Space invasion: Hilton Head to host astronomy convention

gmartin@islandpacket.comFebruary 26, 2012 

  • When: March 14-16

    Where: Hilton Head Marriott Resort & Spa

    Cost: $25 in advance, $20 for seniors, $15 for students


The Academy Awards may be over, but there's a silver lining for those who haven't yet had their fill of stargazing: Hilton Head Island is about to host its first astronomy convention.

From March 14 to 16, the Hilton Head Marriott Resort & Spa will be the temporary headquarters of an assortment of professional scientists and amateur enthusiasts from around the country.

The Kepler Space Institute Convention will feature several panelists and discussions on space-related topics, institute president Dr. Robert Frantz said.

"The convention will focus on raising public awareness and education of these issues," he said. "It will all be tailored for people without scientific backgrounds, people who may just be curious about outer space."

Frantz added that one of the convention's primary goals is to engage local students, as the nationwide obsession with outer space fascinated him as a child.

"Growing up in the 1960s, with the space race and the moon landing going on, it really motivated a lot of young people to go into science and mathematics," he said. "Hopefully, some students here will use this as an opportunity to learn more about astronomy."

Institute board member Walter Putnam said he developed an interest in space late in life after attending an astronomy convention at his friends' urging and being "amazed" at the dedication of the field's enthusiasts.

"I was never aware that there was such a network of people so interested in (astronomical) advancements," he recalls. "I hope those folks come out to attend this convention, as well."

Those who do can attend lectures on a variety of topics, from the academic (a panel on the emerging field of space law) to the more accessible (a discussion of space art and culture).

Companies in space-related fields also will have displays and will interview prospective job applicants.

"This is a real grassroots organizing of space activists," Putnam said. "We're just trying to make our presence known and get local people interested in what's going on."

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The Kepler Space Institute

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