MADRAS, OR -- Eight months after a solar eclipse darkened the skies of Central Oregon, NASA scientists are back in Madras. They’ll host a public presentation Wednesday at the Madras Performing Arts Center. PAC Director Shannon Ahern says they’ve returned for more than just a recap of the August 21st eclipse, "The main reason they’re coming is: Last year, they spent quite a bit of time in our school district and had outreach to every single student in our district, working on science, trying to get kids inspired to go want to go into the fields in science; they worked a lot with our STEM programs. So, they’re coming back and they’re going to be back in our classrooms this week."
Ahern says they forged a unique partnership with the kids, "Who gets to spend months on end with NASA scientists? And, these guys are big-time. Anytime you see anything on TV that’s a visual of the sun - showing sun spots or a big solar flare - odds are, that came from the Solar Dynamics Observatory, which is what Dr. Pesnell runs; and he’s who will be here speaking. He and Michael Kirk both, they started coming a year ago, in the wintertime, and were out – I lost count of how many times they were here – but, the kids know them on a first-name-basis." Ahern says they also donated thousands of pairs of eclipse glasses in Madras and Warm Springs.
It's a relationship she, and many in the community, hope will continue, despite the waning of eclipse-mania, "I don’t know that we’ll keep talking eclipse, but that was a great way to get the community excited and the students excited and also educated in what was safe. You know, NASA was amazing; they did so much outreach to the community and the students, teaching them about the eclipse. It was just a great partnership with them, and we’re certainly hoping it’ll continue. I think NASA wants to do the same."
Wednesday evening's free presentation at the PAC called "That was a Marvelous Eclipse! And Madras was the Best Place to Watch!” starts at 7 p.m. and is open to the public. It'll feature a slide show of eclipse photos submitted by the community. Click HERE
for more information.