AAS 201st Meeting, January, 2003
Session 10. Telescopes and Observatories for Education and Outreach
Poster, Monday, January 6, 2003, 9:20am-6:30pm, Exhibit Hall AB

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[10.08] McDonald Observatory Visitors Center: Where Families and Students Decode Starlight

S. Preston, B. J. Armosky, G. F. Benedict, F. Cianciolo, M. K. Hemenway, M. Wetzel, W. R. Wren (The University of Texas McDonald Observatory)

"Decoding Starlight" is the name of the 2,400 square-foot, interactive, and bilingual (English/Spanish) exhibit on spectroscopy that opened in March 2002 at the new McDonald Observatory Visitors Center in Fort Davis, Texas. The exhibit was designed by McDonald Observatory public outreach and education staff, astronomers, Sears-Russell Consultants, Inc. of Canada and built by ExPlus, Inc., Dulles, Virginia. Rhotenberry-Wellen Architects, Midland, Texas, designed the new visitors center in a style reminiscent of structures left by the Anasazi, ancestors of today's Pueblo cultures in the American Southwest, while incorporating spectroscopy into the building’s accents.

Spectroscopy was selected as the theme of the exhibit as well as the topic of many of the educational programs that are conducted at the Visitors Center in order to align with the mission of the largest telescope at McDonald Observatory, the Hobby-Eberly Telescope (HET), owned by an international consortium of universities.

Evaluation of the "Decoding Starlight" exhibit, construction plans for the McDonald Observatory Visitors Center, and operating techniques are being shared with the South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO). SAAO is planning a new visitors center in association with the Southern African Large Telescope (SALT), currently under construction in the Southern Hemisphere in Sutherland, South Africa and based on the design of the HET.

We gratefully acknowledge the support of NSF 96-26965 “Fingerprinting the Universe - An Interactive, Bilingual Exhibit on Spectroscopy” and NSF 00-84618 “U.S.-South Africa Workshop: Educational Outreach for Observatories with State-of-the-Art Telescopes; Cape Town, South Africa, Feb. 2-6.

If you would like more information about this abstract, please follow the link to http://mcdonaldobservatory.org/news/gallery/. This link was provided by the author. When you follow it, you will leave the Web site for this meeting; to return, you should use the Back comand on your browser.

The author(s) of this abstract have provided an email address for comments about the abstract: sandi@astro.as.utexas.edu

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