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In the weeks leading up to the DI Flyby of comet Hartley 2 (encounter) and following encounter, astronomy clubs and other space places have an opportunity to engage the public -- informing them about the EPOXI mission, teaching them about comets (and asteroids since Dawn will reach Vesta in Feb 2011!), and providing a means for them to observe comet Hartley 2, any other comets that might be visible, and any asteroids visible. Below is a rough outline of possible programs with links to handouts and information about associated activities. Feel free to use what you need, and if you do hold a program, let us know and we'll list it on our Outreach page!

hosting your own Asteroid/Comet Party

  • Observing session:
    • when to hold
      • any clear night when the target is visible, preferably when the Moon is just past new, but not too bright.
    • where to hold
      • neighborhood
      • astro club
      • observatory/planetarium
    • what to do
      • observing: the main thing is of course seeing the target, but depending on your resources and the turnout, you may want to have some other activities to occupy the younger visitors:
           -- mission fact sheet
           -- about the comet/sketch sheet
           -- starchart
           -- coloring page
      • making a comet: great demo if you have access to dry ice, or you can make an edible version with icecream! If you live near the University of Maryland in College Park, you may also be able to get Comet Crunch icecream, a limited edition flavor produced by the UM Dairy.
      • cratering activity: another good demo, best done outside. We suggest limiting your variables (ie, one target material with different impactors or one impactor and different target materials).
      • arts and crafts: attach ribbon and string to styrafoam balls (comets), draw comets on construction paper, Pin the Tail on the Comet, ... check out the different activities in Deep Impact's Discovery Zone! Even some of the formal education pieces can be simplified to the activity component. ** (While aimed at teachers, these education modules can be simplified and adapted as needed.)

  • Encounter night:

Updated: 17-Jan-2018