World Science Festival brings stargazing, dancing robots to Brooklyn waterfront

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This child climbed into a space suit, part of an exhibit at the space-themed World Science Festival in Brooklyn Bridge Park on Saturday. Photos by Mary Frost

The weather couldn’t have been better at Brooklyn Bridge Park on Saturday for a night of stargazing, talks by astronomers, NASA scientists and astronauts — and dancing robots.

The event was part of the World Science Festival, a citywide science exposition.

Hundreds spread blankets on the Harbor View Lawn to picnic and catch scientific presentations. On the nearby granite steps, visitors attended Star Chats on topics like hunting for life, landing crafts on Mars, and discovering planets trillions of miles away.

Volunteer astronomers from the Amateur Astronomers Association of New York manned large telescopes, pointing out to excited viewers the four Galilean moons of Jupiter — Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto – and the astonishing rings of Saturn.

“I hope to see Jupiter,” said Brooklyn Heights resident Jack Malloy. “I’ve never seen it close.”

Capt. Lee Morin described training to become a NASA astronaut in the world’s largest swimming pool – he had to be lowered into the pool with a crane because his suit was so heavy — and compared floating in space to fish swimming in an aquarium.

“It starts to feel like this is the natural thing,” Capt. Morin said. “When you get back to Earth, it feels really strange to walk around . . . It’s like you just got off of a boat and you feel kind of unsteady on your feet.”

Blanca Li, who has collaborated with the Paris Opera Ballet and the Metropolitan Opera, danced with a winsome little robot perched atop a table on stage. Through remarkable choreography and programming, the robot appeared to move just like a human. The performance was an excerpt from an upcoming show, called “Robot,” coming to BAM June 9 to 14.

If you missed the event, you still have a chance to do some stargazing. The Amateur Astronomers Association of New York (aaa.org), one of the biggest and oldest amateur astronomy groups in the country, visit venues across the city during warm weather, member Marcelo Cabrera told the Brooklyn Eagle.

“We come to Brooklyn Bridge Park with telescopes every Thursday, during Syfy Movies With a View,” he said.

 

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