Exploring the solar system and beyond!

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Astronomer Jason Kendall (left) shares the view through his 15-inch-diameter telescope with visitors to Boston Common at a star party held during the June 2014 meeting of the American Astronomical Society. AAS photo (C) 2014 Joson Images.

WASHINGTON — More than 1,200 space scientists were in Pasadena, California, for the joint 48th meeting of the Division for Planetary Sciences (DPS) of the American Astronomical Society (AAS) and 11th European Planetary Science Congress (EPSC). They invited the public to join them for an evening of art, science, and stargazing at the Pasadena Convention Center on Thursday, October 20th. This FREE public event is part of Pasadena Astronomy Week (http://www.cityofastronomy.org) and is cosponsored by The Planetary Society.

The festivities got under way at 6 pm PDT with “The Art of Planetary Science,” an exhibition of original paintings and other works of art celebrating the beauty and wonder of planetary exploration. Visitors met representatives from astronomical observatories and NASA space missions as they tour the Convention Center exhibit hall.

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Then, in the Convention Center ballroom at 7 pm, Planetary Society CEO Bill Nye the Science Guy gave the Cosmos Award for Outstanding Public Presentation of Science to Dr. Alan Stern (Southwest Research Institute), lead scientist for NASA’s New Horizons mission. Dr. Stern presented “The Exploration of Pluto” featuring that mission’s latest images and discoveries. His talk will be followed by “Brave New Worlds: Planets in Our Galaxy,” presented by Dr. Giovanna Tinetti (University College London), one of Europe’s leading researchers studying planets beyond our own solar system.

After the talks, local scientists and amateur astronomers got together for a “star party” on the plaza outside the Convention Center in front of the Civic Auditorium.

The AAS, established in 1899 and based in Washington, DC, is the major organization of professional astronomers and planetary scientists in North America. Its membership of about 7,000 also includes physicists, mathematicians, geologists, engineers, and others whose research interests lie within the broad spectrum of subjects now comprising contemporary astronomy. The mission of the AAS is to enhance and share humanity’s scientific understanding of the universe. – USNewswire

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