AAS 205th Meeting, 9-13 January 2005
Session 8 Informal Astronomy
Poster, Monday, January 10, 2005, 9:20am-6:30pm, Exhibit Hall

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[8.06] Parallax Park - A bilingual, outdoor, interactive family exhibit

M. K. Hemenway, G. F. Benedict, S. L. Preston, B. J. Armosky, F. W. Cianciolo, Jr., M. N. Wetzel (McDonald Observatory), R. Freeman (Blue Sky Design), A. Ransenberg (Alchemy of Design)

We present a design for Parallax Park, an outdoor, interactive family exhibit for McDonald Observatory that will bring the quest for learning about extra-solar planets and the astronomical distance ladder down to Earth for the more than 100,000 visitors who come to the Observatory each year. The Park will teach visitors the basic principles of astrometry. It will concentrate on distance determination and extrasolar planet detection, and emphasize the advantages of space-based astrometric measurements. Visitors will experience parallax by traveling a path around a representation of the Sun, mimicking Earth's orbit, while viewing representations of stars at various distances and in various directions. Concepts include Cepheids as standard candles, the inverse square law, and motion around a center of mass. The exhibit includes interactive components suitable for children's use. Text labels and printed guides, in English and Spanish, will explain how to use the Park to explore the uses of astrometry in modern science.

This program was made possible through funding from the Hubble Space Telescope Cycle 11 and 12 Education and Public Outreach Grant Programs. Support from the NASA/JPL Space Interferometry Mission (JPL contract #1227563) is also gratefully acknowledged.

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