Timelines of History and Starlight

An exhibit made by Ruth Craft connects 200 years of Indiana history to the distance starlight has traveled from Indiana's Bicentennial Star. One timeline, marked by twenty year increments, depicts key historical events with accompanying images. A second timeline, in increments of ten light years, shows the distance light has traveled from the star Scheat in the Great Square of Pegasus since Indiana became a state in 1816. A pulse of light running across the top of the panel conveys the combined flow of light and time over 200 years.

On the edge of the table are measuring sticks with a scale. Youths would stretch their arms as far as they could to see how far in time or distance on the respective scales they could reach.

The exhibit debuted February 6 at Science Alive, and will be appearing at additional sites during Indiana's bicentennial celebration. Craft, former Director of the Kennedy Planetarium, creates much original content and is a regular contributor to astronomy education and public outreach in the Michiana region.

Below are excerpts from the exhibit.

INDIANA; 200 YEARS OF STATEHOOD

SCHEAT: 200 LIGHT YEARS AWAY

  • In one year, light travels about 6 billion (6,000,000,000,000) miles, a distance we call a LIGHT YEAR.

  • Scheat in Pegasus is 200 light years away.

  • 200 light years is about 1.2 quadrillion (1,200,000,000,000,000) miles.

  • The light we see tonight left Scheat 200 years ago, when Indiana became a state.

  • Happy Birthday, Indiana!

Ruth Craft (standing, far right) was part of the Michiana astronomy team at the 2016 Science Alive.

Indiana's Bicentennial Star is depicted atop the torch in this banner adapted from the state flag. The star Scheat, in the corner of the Great Square of Pegasus, is visible in the western sky during winter evenings.

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