Westerville News & Public Opinion

Starry Night

Event makes connection between arts and sciences


Vincent van Gogh meets modern science and technology with the second-annual Nationwide Children's Hospital Starry Night astronomy festival at Westerville South High School.

The free festival is a Science Technology Engineering Art and Mathematics event that crosses art and science disciplines with interactive learning exhibits. The event highlights the many ways science and art intertwine in the universe.

Amy Raubenolt, vice president of outreach at Westerville Partners for Education, said the event offers a nod to van Gogh's classic Starry Night piece and shows overlap between art and science.

"(It is) a mash-up of different interdisciplinary exhibits," Raubenolt said. "It's hands-on activities for families to learn different things."

Van Gogh and many early artists looked to the stars for inspiration for many works and paintings. In a modern twist, the Starry Night event aims to show the ways art and science intersect in the world and how the two inspire each other.

Attendees can learn about astronomy and engineering through interactive theater, an indoor planetarium, puppet shows, art projects and robotics exhibits.

This year's theme is sustainability. In addition to learning about astronomy, there will be exhibits about recycling and sustainability.

"This event aims to bring together all the types of exhibits in equal footing," Raubenolt said. "It puts painting glass tiles and origami, and puts connections between subject matters in a curriculum and in our lives."

In its inaugural year, the event attracted more than 1,000 visitors and featured 26 exhibits. This year, the event has more than doubled and features 56 exhibits.

Tom Burns, an English professor at Ohio Wesleyan University and director of the Perkins Observatory, gave a presentation last year and will give another one this year. Burns will present a lecture about the universe.

"I call it my nickel tour of the universe," Burns said. "We start on planet Earth and move upward and outward and everything there is in 45 minutes," Burns said.

"We have a long way to go and not a long time to do it."

If the sky is clear, Burns said he hopes to do some sky observing with a telescope or observe the sun with a solar-safe telescope.

Burns wants to show attendees ways they can admire the sky with their own eyes or a pair of binoculars in one's backyard.

Overall, both Burns and Raubenolt hope attendees will stop, think and admire the beauty and art in the world.

"I hope they will gain an appreciation of wonder and majesty of the universe they live in and go out and seek it themselves," Burns said.

"Science and technology make us a better world, but without the appreciation for art and beauty we will become dead inside."

Starry Night is planned from 2 to 6 p.m. Sunday, April 6, at Westerville South High School, 303 S. Otterbein Ave. There is no admission charge.