Science communication and outreach

Dr. Abbie is passionate about science outreach for a variety of audiences. She is available to speak with classes, scout troops, astronomy clubs, and other community groups. She can lead an interactive lesson or activity, give a grade-level-appropriate slideshow talk about her research on black holes, or have a discussion about what it’s like to be an astronomer. Since all presentations will be virtual for the immediate future, please sign up to meet via the MSU Science Festival (Michigan teachers) or Skype A Scientist (everyone else). When in-person activities resume, groups will have the option to use a telescope for solar observation or stargazing, as weather permits.

Dr. Abbie is also available as a science advisor for astronomy, physics, and space science in creative projects, and she loves incorporating scientific concepts in art via hands-on workshops (this was at the MSU Broad Museum Art Lab) and performances/presentations (this was the Amsterdam Science Art Slam curated by Claudia Mignone). Please reach out if you’re interested in learning more!

The first image of the event horizon of a black hole, taken by the Event Horizon Telescope of the supermassive black hole M 87 star. It looks like a lumpy orange donut that's brighter on the front side closer to us and dimmer on the back side further from us.
Click image for the “gravity” lesson.
Image credit: Event Horizon Telescope
Click image for the “pulsar” activity.
Image credit: NASA

Upcoming public talks:

How Do Scientists “See” Black Holes?, April 6th, AstroZoom
Exo-lent Planets!, April 17th, MSU SciFest

Science outreach venues near East Lansing, MI

Stargazing on your own

You can have your own star party if you can find a dark sky and a clear night. If you live in a populated area, driving out of town for a little ways can yield good views (please don’t trespass), but the best will be found in Dark Sky Preserves. Here is a list of registered Dark Sky Preserves in Michigan, and here is an international list of certified Dark Sky Parks.

Once you know your location, check out the cloud forecast to see if you’ll have a clear night soon. Below is the clear sky chart for the MSU Observatory in East Lansing, MI. The red vertical lines indicate midnight, and the darker the blue, the clearer the skies.

Now try looking for constellations you recognize, like Orion’s belt, the Big Dipper, Cygnus, or Cassiopeia! Perhaps you’ll even see the International Space Station fly overhead and you can wave to the astronauts and the NICER X-ray telescope. Do you know what the constellation looks like for your horoscope sign? You can guide your search with software like Heavens Above, Stellarium, and Google Sky, and browse your device’s app store for Google Sky Map. Be safe and have fun!