After some rainy days over the weekend, Santiago had a nice and sunny weather on July 7, which is a day of a Japanese star festival called TANABATA to celebrate the meeting of the deities Orihime (Vega) and Hikoboshi (Altair) on the 7th day of the 7th month of the year. The Santiago Japanese School held an annual TANABATA lecture, as they did over these several years, inviting a NAOJ researcher as a speaker.
This year’s lecture was given by Norikazu Mizuno, an associate professor at the NAOJ Chile Observatory. Mizuno began his talk by showing some photos of Orion, one of the most familiar constellations, and then gave explanations of stars, galaxies and the universe while asking children some questions related to the topics. His talk extended to the constellations of ancient times when Incan people used to see animal shapes in the dark spots of the starry sky (unlike the way we make constellations by connecting bright stars), as well as the myth of TANABATA meeting of Orihime (Vega) and Hikoboshi (Altair), using visually-appealing presentations like beautiful photos, videos, and illustrations.
In the part introducing the ALMA telescope site in the Atacama Desert, children were very excited to see a moving image of a giant transporter carrying a big antenna, and an actual plastic bottle which was crumpled by the difference of atmospheric pressure at the high-altitude site. Children expressed their strong interest in the astronomical subjects by raising hands many times during the talk and asking questions about stars and the universe even after the event. This year’s lecture was a big success with active interactions between students and a speaker. [Text and photo provided by Naoya Hiramatsu]