Thursday, September 27, 2007

Fernbank Observatory and Emory's Science and Society Outreach Program

I went over to Fernbank Observatory tonight for about an hour to see if I could get a view of our moon tonight. I did. It was pretty cool  to see the moon through the 36 inch telescope. The astronomer, Dr. Sarrazine, also showed us Jupiter and some stars.

I talked with her for a while while she was closing up the observatory about astronomy and science-related programs in the Atlanta area. She gave me some handouts about the Atlanta Astronomy Club and about volunteer opportunities at the observatory.

When I got home I researched Emory and Fernbank's science outreach efforts in more depth. What I have found are some very good resources.

Fernbank Science Center

Fernbank Science Center's slogan is "From the Forest to the Stars". Read about it at I live just 8 minutes away from it, and only 5 minutes from the history center.

Here is an excerpt about the center from its factsheet,


Fernbank Science Center is a unique educational science resource center, classroom and woodland complex located in a suburban area of northeast Atlanta near Decatur. Fernbank has been operating since 1967. It is an agency of the DeKalb County School System and is open year-round. Fernbank is a founding member of ASTC, the Association of Science-Technology Centers. The Fernbank complex includes our partner-in-education, Fernbank Museum of Natural History.


  • Self-guided as well as guided tours of Fernbank Forest
  • Exhibit hall with a variety of interpretations of the life and physical sciences; frequent traveling exhibits
  • Home Composting Demonstration Site with a vegetable garden and a butterfly garden
  • Test rose gardens of the All-America Rose Selections and American Rose Society organizations
  • Planetarium programs for the public in the evenings
  • Viewing in the observatory through Fernbank’s 36-inch telescope

Fernbank Observatory

This content is taken directly from the Fernbank web site at

The Fernbank Observatory houses a 0.9 meter (36-inch) Cassegrain reflector beneath a 10 meter (30 ft.) dome. This is the largest telescope in the southeastern United States and one of the largest instruments ever dedicated to education and public viewing.

In addition to educational classes for school students, free public observing open houses are offered every
Thursday and Friday evening from 8:00 p.m. (or dark) until 10:30 p.m. weather permitting
An astronomer will be available to position the telescope and answer questions.
For more information contact us at 678-874-7102.

Images taken from the Fernbank Observatory:

The Moon

M42, the Orian Nebula

Interview about the Observatory

Interview with Dr. Sudduth and Dr. Sarrazine about the Fernbank Observatory

Emory's Science and Society Program


The Emory College Program in Science & Society aims to instill the thrill and importance of science in Emory students, especially non-science majors, and in the Emory and Atlanta communities at large.

We promote a better understanding of the impact of science on society, and work with the Science, Social Science, and Humanities disciplines to convey the message that science is vital across disciplines – that science is not merely a collection of facts but is, at its core, a way of thinking and of approaching problems.

We invite you to join us as we continue to explore the interface of science with social issues, including ethics, religion, and morality.

Science in Your Life Radio Show


The goal of Science in Your Life is to increase awareness and understanding of science in our everyday lives and how that science integrates with the environment, the economy, our health, entertainment, transportation, how we think, and how we express our thoughts.

The Program in Science & Society was developed in 1998 and is a part of the Emory College Faculty Science Council. The Program aims to instill the thrill and importance of science at all levels. Promoting a better understanding of the impact of science on society, the program seeks cross-disciplinary acceptance of science as not just a body of facts but as a way of thinking.

WABE 90.1 FM was Georgia's first public radio station. WABE broadcasts a mixture of mostly classical music and National Public Radio and Public Radio International programming. The station is active in and has a long tradition of excellece in education and science, airing such nationally successful shows as the Infinite Mind and Word for the Wise.

The Coordinator of Science in Your Life is Dr. Arri Eisen, Senior Lecturer in Biology at Emory and Director of the Program in Science & Society. The radio portion of the project is hosted by Ted Vigodsky and produced by Daren Wang at WABE. Ashley Cimino, Undergraduate Project Coordinator, helps bring each portion of the program together. Ajay Pillarisetti is the webmaster.

Science in Your Life Archived Episodes

CDC's EXCITE Program for teaching science and epidemiology to young people:

Dr. Frans de Waal's research about primates:

Dr. Scott Lilienfield's Demystifying Pseudo-Science:

Chemistry tames the Supercomputer:

The Curious Minds Podcast

I'm starting a new podcast called The Curious Minds Podcast. It's at We are just getting started, but looking to interview people in the sciences, humanities, business, music, arts, etc. Check out our promo MP3 on that link and stay tuned for our first episode to appear sometime soon.

Other Resources

The Atlanta Astronomy Club:

Fernbank Museum of Natural History:

Portland Oregon Astronomy resources: (this one is for you Mom!)

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