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NIU STEM Café explores stargazing and space telescopes

This image from NASA shows the edge of a nearby, young, star-forming region called NGC 3324 in the Carina Nebula. It was captured in infrared light by NASA’s new James Webb Space Telescope. NASA Solar System Ambassador Joel Knapper will discuss this and other images from the Webb Space Telescope at the next Northern Illinois University STEM Cafe.

Images from NASA’s Webb Space Telescope have captured the world’s attention. At the next Northern Illinois University STEM Café, the public will get a chance to learn more about the telescope and these spectacular images, as well as simulations of the universe, the logistics of space travel and stargazing.

The STEM Café will take place – rain or shine – at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 11, at Open Range Southwest Grill, 1 Golfview Lane, in Sugar Grove. It is free and open to the public, with food and drink available for purchase from Open Range.

Food will be available starting at 6:30 p.m., the speakers will begin at 7 p.m. and then after nightfall the group will head outside to observe the night sky with telescopes or the naked eye. The annual Perseid Meteor Shower will be nearing its peak, presenting the opportunity to see up to 100 meteors (a.k.a. shooting stars) per hour. In spite of the bright full moon, which will dim the meteors just a bit, the Perseids still provide one of the best meteor views of the year.

Featured speakers include:

• Eve Kovacs, Ph.D., physicist at Argonne National Laboratory, will talk about simulations of the universe.

• Joel Knapper, NASA solar system ambassador, will discuss NASA’s Webb Space Telescope.

• John Shelton, Ph.D., NIU assistant professor of mechanical engineering, will talk about nanoparticle thermal energy storage – and how this technology might be the key to extended space travel.

• Jeremy Benson, NIU STEAM educator, will introduce the Perseids and explain what to watch for in the night sky.

Learn or register for this free event at go.niu.edu/stemcafe.

Northern Illinois University STEM Cafés are part of NIU STEAM and are designed to increase public awareness of the critical role that STEM fields play in our everyday lives. STEM Cafés are supported by Bayer Fund and Thermo Fisher Scientific.

For information, visit go.niu.edu/stemcafes or contact Judith Dymond, Ed.D., at 815-753-4751 or jdymond@niu.edu.