Berkeley Participates in Yuri’s Night Celebration at CalAcademy

April 16, 2015

Img_0003 Jennifer Burt (left), Tiffany Hsyu (right) Standing: Lauren Weiss (left), Angie Wolfgang (right) on the monitors: APF telescope (left; we provided a live feed from APF once it got dark), Super Planet Crash game (middle), Steve Vogt shown standing in front of APF primary mirror (large monitor at right)

Every year in April a world-wide celebration is held to honor Yuri Gagarin, the first human being to venture into space. This year, members from the UC Berkeley Department of Astronomy took part in honoring this historical achievement with a Yuri's Night celebration at the California Academy of Sciences. Graduate students Erik Petigura and Jason Wang managed telescope viewings on the Academy's living roof, while graduate student Lauren Weiss helped manage the Friends of Lick Observatory table in the African Hall.

The table was set up with a live feed and prerecorded footage to the APF (the Automated Planet Finder) and included the Superplanet Crash Game, programmed and made playable by UCSC astronomy graduate Dr. Stefano Meschlari. This game allows people to construct their own planetary systems and watch how they evolve overtime; below is a planetary system constructed by Jonathan Kibrick, based on scheduling algorithms for public transit vehicles (Jonathan is a transit planner for SF Muni).

Keeping in line with the theme of the evening, Yuri's Night offered two speciality beers: one made from plants grown on the "green" rooftop of the Cal Academy building and another brewed with yeast that had been in orbit around the Earth. Raffle tickets and merchandise were available for purchase and prizes were given to the public later in the evening. Suffice to say it was a splendid and successful  event!