A Time-lapsed View of Astronomy Night on the National Mall

On the evening of July 9th, as the intense heat of the summer sun on the National Mall faded into a cool breeze and sunlight gave way to a pale waxing gibbous moonlight, crowds quickly gathered at the National Air and Space Museum's public observatory for the 2nd annual Astronomy Night on the National Mall event.

As a representative for the Chandra X-ray Observatory and From Earth to the Solar System project, I hopped onto the shuttle flight from Boston to DC in the afternoon and was on the Mall with my camera within a few hours. The level of enthusiasm and excitement as over 300 visitors streamed in to view Saturn and the Moon throughout the evening was palpable. I was excited to try out some new camera gear that would enable me to create the time lapse videos of the event that you can view here, but on more than one occasion found myself forgetting to check the camera settings as I got lost in conversations about astronomy, careers in science and photography.

It is nothing short of inspiring to see parents hoping to instill in their children a sense of awe and wonder about the night sky. It's times like these that remind me of what motivated me to pursue a career path in astronomy. I can only hope that events like this will inspire future generations to peer into the depths of the sky to find their own paths.

From Airplane The Mall

Joe DePasquale, CXC

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