PORT ANGELES — Clallam County public libraries are offering a collection of astronomy-inspired events this month.
The “Things Are Looking Up!” astronomy series presented by the North Olympic Library System will feature a hands-on opportunity to learn how to use the new library telescopes, a free film screening of “The Martian” starring Matt Damon, and discussions about space exploration with NASA Ambassador Ron Hobbs.
The series is free and open to the public, and has been made possible by donations from Friends of the Library groups and Forks Elks Lodge 2524.
Telescopes 101 — Learn how to use the new NOLS telescopes — available for checkout beginning Tuesday — under the guidance of the Olympic Astronomical Society’s own John Goar at 6:30 p.m. Monday at the Port Angeles Library, 2210 S. Peabody St..
With a telescope in-hand, Goar will show visitors how to use these tools and share tips for beginning and experienced viewers.
The presentation will highlight the best summer sky targets on the Peninsula, and will be followed by a Q&A session for attendees to take advantage of Goar’s expertise and extensive astronomy background.
For seven consecutive years, Goar has led night sky observation programs that are free and open to the public as a volunteer at Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park.
More information about these programs can be found at www.olympictelescope.com.
Free film screening — The 2015 film “The Martian” starring Matt Damon will be screened at 5 p.m. Monday, Aug. 22 at the Port Angeles Library.
The film is based on the novel by Andy Weir, who extensively researched real NASA technologies for his depiction of a future mission to Mars.
The story centers on American astronaut Mark Watney, a NASA botanist and mechanical engineer whose approach to survival is rooted in science and humor.
Mars and “The Martian” — Join NASA Ambassador Ron Hobbs for a discussion of the space technology that was employed in the making of “The Martian,” as well as recent discoveries about the red planet, at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 23, at the Port Angeles Library.
The discussion will focus on how the work of NASA and other agencies extends into the film’s fictional setting in the 2030s, when astronauts are regularly traveling to Mars and living on its surface.
Revelations about Mars
This talk will also review some of the new revelations about Mars, and, weather permitting, offer participants an opportunity to view the planet through a telescope.
Ron Hobbs is an instructor for Bellevue College’s TELOS education program for retirees.
His speaking background has focused on topics as diverse as herbal medicine, public health, mountaineering, and astronomy.
His life-long interest in the exploration of space led him to his current volunteer position for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory as a Solar System Ambassador.
We Are All Explorers! — NASA Ambassador Rob Hobbs will offer opportunities to engage your inner explorer at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Aug. 22, at the Forks Library, 171 S. Forks Ave., and again at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 24, at the Sequim Library, 630 N. Sequim Ave.
Since its beginning 240 years ago, the United States has been the “Exploration Nation,” and for the past 50-plus years, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has led explorations into the solar system, said Paige Belfry, customer service specialist at the Port Angeles Library.
Now the internet age allows others to participate in that exploration, from just enjoying the views to processing the pictures, to contributing “citizen science.”
Hobbs’ talk will review some of the current NASA missions and ways in which everyone can ride along on the adventure.