Celebrating the Uncertainty of Science
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The 2013 Comet Festival in South Bend, IN, celebrated Comet ISON, a sungrazing comet that was inbound from a distant reservoir of space debris and a comet whose type probably had not been witnessed in centuries. The community seized a chance to watch nature unfold and to embrace the uncertainty of science. As Comet ISON emerged from the depths of the solar system, many schools and businesses and individuals stepped up to show they value science.
Though Comet ISON neither survived its encounter with the sun nor put on a visual spectacle, those two outcomes were knowingly not assured. Polls at several schools showed students were split on what they believed would happen. Some students now have bragging rights. But survival and spectacle--two factors dictated by nature--were not the basis by which we expected to judge the Comet Festival. As suggested in the last 15 seconds of the recorded vision, "It's how well we do as a community in sharing a collective science experience." The outpouring of imagination expressed in the science-related art, for example, was a heartening reminder that the denizens of South Bend think and act innovatively in response to nature's splendor and mystery.
I built a Comet Festival website at www.cometfestival.com.
Pages excerpted from Comet Festival website, yet to be linked to PDF files.
The poster Tale of a Comet illustrates the diverse activities that can accompany a celestial event, highlights the imagination of the community, thanks supporters and participants, and brings closure to the Comet Festival. Chuck Bueter presented the material at the 2014 Great Lakes Planetarium Association (GLPA) Annual Conference in Muncie, IN, on Oct. 30-31.
The poster content parallels the previous article Winding Down, which includes more details, videos, and links.
When Ignite Michiana segues from Intermission to the second half, the Comet Festival (www.cometfestival.com) looks back on what has already occurred in South Bend and anticipates the celebration that is to come. Introduction: Chuck Bueter Music: "Follow Your Bliss" by the B-52s.