ALMA Chats with Visitors at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum

3 July, 2018

Astronomers with the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) in Chile are teaching the science behind the telescope to people visiting the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum, in Washington, D.C., at the museum’s Phoebe Walterman Haas Public Observatory by video conference.

The National Air and Space Museum’s program, “Astronomy Chat,” brings researchers from around the world to the museum digitally or in-person, and allows for one-on-one conversations about astronomy concepts. “Astronomy Chats” allow astronomers in Chile to share ALMA’s discoveries, as well as how the largest observatory in the world functions.

A group of visitors at the museum chatting with Juan Cortés, ALMA’s operations astronomer. Credit: Rebecca Ljungren (Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum).

A group of visitors at the museum chatting with Juan Cortés, ALMA’s operations astronomer. Credit: Rebecca Ljungren (Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum).

Thus far, two chats with ALMA have taken place with about 150 guests in attendance and one hour each. Violette Impellizzeri and Juan Cortés, ALMA’s operations astronomers, shared images of research and talked about their jobs at the observatory. “What is it like to work at ALMA?” “What is daily life like for an astronomer?” These where some of the questions asked by visitors at one of the most visited museums in the world.

ALMA astronomers are participating in these remote conversations for six months, organized by this observatory, the Astronomy Education Program at the museum in conjunction with Associated Universities, Inc. (AUI)/National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) – the latter ALMA’s representative of the North American fraction.

About ALMA

ALMA is a partnership between ESO (on behalf of its European Member States), NSF (USA), and NINS (Japan); together with NRC (Canada), MOST and ASIAA (Taiwan), and KASI (Republic of Korea), in cooperation with the Republic of Chile. The Joint ALMA Observatory is operated by ESO, AUI/NRAO, and NAOJ.