Public Star Night And Talk: Relativity For 5th Graders

September 13, 2015 – Little Thompson Observatory will host a public lecture by John Ensworth on Friday, September 25. The title of the talk will be “Relativity for 5th Graders.” Weather permitting after the presentation, visitors will be invited to look through the observatory’s large telescope at various celestial objects.

During this month’s presentation (part 2 to Quantum Mechanics for 5th Graders given in May 2015), Ensworth will take visitors through the discoveries of Newton and Einstein and see how a simple question about light changed what was understood about the universe. Other than a few new words and some repurposed words, all of which will be defined, the basics of special and general relativity is explained through concepts and pictures. Ensworth will touch briefly on why the Theory of Relativity and the Theory of Quantum Mechanics don’t get along.

Ensworth is currently the Senior Science Education Specialist at the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies which is a non-profit organization formed to conduct independent reviews on all Earth and space science education products produced by or for NASA (www.strategies.org ). He is responsible for directly conducting reviews and helping with NASA education and outreach efforts through the Web (video.strategies.org) and at large education conferences that introduce the products that pass on the criteria of scientific accuracy and classroom usability.

In the 1990’s Ensworth was a masters’ student and a PhD candidate in meteorology at the University of Oklahoma. He earned undergraduate degrees in physics, astronomy, geography and meteorology with minors in math and computer science.

Ensworth became interested in astronomy in the 2nd grade and began to teach astronomy to cub scouts and boy scouts by 5th grade. He worked for the Arizona State University planetarium when Halley’s Comet paid the inner solar system a visit in 1985-1986 and taught the astronomy labs. During the 80’s, he was the head TA and eventually taught an astronomy course as an undergraduate. He worked an internship at Steward Observatory, at the University of Arizona, Tucson, and conducted site testing for the placement of the Mt. Graham observatory complex. He also observed at the 4-meter telescope at Kitt Peak, a 36” telescope at Kitt Peak, and at the Multi-Mirror Telescope (now the Mega Mirror Telescope) at Mt. Whipple.

More recently, he’s run more than 50 astronomy nights for Arizona, Oklahoma and Virginia residents. He served an internship at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in the year 2000 and is a volunteer and board member at the Little Thompson Observatory in Berthoud, Colorado. He teaches math and science courses at the University of Phoenix, Grand Canyon University, Mid-American Christian University and American Sentinel University. You can view a Webcam of his new backyard observatory in Longmont, CO by searching for weather in Longmont at the Weather Underground http://www.wunderground.com/ under Webcam links or at http://bikerjohn.com/webcam_page1.htm

Public star nights are held the third Friday of each month (except July, when the observatory is closed for annual maintenance). No reservations are necessary for these nights. If you have any questions, please call the observatory information line at 970-613-7793 or check the LTO web site at: www.starkids.org