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The Faulkes Telescope project team and astronomers from the School of Physics and Astronomy at Cardiff University ran a highly successful
“Observatory” at the 2008 National Eisteddfod. This year’s event was visited by around 156,000 people, and the Science Pavilion attracted
around 2,000 people a day over the 8 days of the event.
Children used laptops to take crash “virtual asteroids” into Wales (courtesy of the “Down to Earth” project) and use a variety of space and astronomy
related software (including some very popular Doctor Who games!).
The Eisteddfod is one of the world's greatest festivals, and one of the oldest manifestations of Welsh culture and heritage that attracts around 160,000 visitors annually. It also plays an important role in the life of a nation by promoting the Welsh language and the arts.
This year, the FT team was asked to put together a new exhibition, named “The Observatory”, which would highlight the educational work of the
project and the live observing capabilities of the LCOGT facilities. Funding was obtained from a £15k small award from the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), allowing a large (9m x 9m) area to be turned into a showcase for FT/LCO and the School of Physics and Astronomy at Cardiff University.
Promotional and educational materials were produced in the Welsh language by Dr. Rhodri Evans and Dr. Sarah Roberts.
A daily competition for children to use FTN and FTS data to produce color images proved very popular, with around 300 entries over the 8 days.
The FT educational guides for color imaging were translated into Welsh, and proved very successful (see our education area for How-to guides on making color images). Children were surrounded by a range
of images from astro-imaging experts Nik Szymanek and Danny Duggan, which inspired many of them to produce some really superb images.
Children used the color imaging guides to produce their very own works of art and live observations from Hawaii and Australia took place throughout the week (twice a day for 1 hour at a time), and attracted audiences of several dozen to each show.
Despite appalling weather at the Eisteddfod, and high humidity in Siding Spring, clear skies in Hawaii meant that most
days saw successful live observing sessions take place.
After an exhausting but enjoyable week, the team packed up the telescopes, rockets, color images, laptops and satellite models that they had
shipped over from the university. Over 5,000 people passed through The Observatory during the 8 days of the Eisteddfod, and a great time was
had by all.
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