PentAstro is a projected dedicated to organizing once or twice monthly “Astronomy on the Pentacrest” nights. Undergraduate and graduate volunteers from the University of Iowa Physics and Astronomy Department will set up and man telescopes in teams of 2 or 3 at different locations on the Pentacrest for anyone passing by to look at various astronomical objects through. These volunteers will point out planets and constellations, answer questions, and potentially give short “micro-lectures” on not only “hot” but also local topics in astronomical research. The overarching goal is to increase public awareness of and interest in astronomy and science in general, as well as the Astronomy and Physics Department. Furthermore, the goal is to bring science to the public rather than making the public come to science; to make science accessible and interesting to people of all ages and backgrounds, and help them feel welcomed and engaged by the scientific community.

Project Author(s): 
Author Bio(s): 
Erin is a junior undergraduate majoring in Astronomy and Physics with a minor in mathematics. She is currently conducting research with Dr. Robert Mutel on the detection of a theorized type of radio emission from active stars. She is also involved with the development of an echelle spectrometer for the University of Iowa’s Van Allen Observatories. She plans on pursuing a Ph.D. in Astrophysics, focusing on astronomical instrumentation. Through the Latham program, she hopes to learn the communication skills and practices to develop impactful public outreach programs, and help scientists learn to effectively communicate their research both within their field and to broader audiences.