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Meteor shower to be featured at next STEM Cafe event

August 4, 2018

SUGAR GROVE – Families soon will have an opportunity to stargaze and learn whether Earth is in danger of being hit by a meteor.

The Northern Illinois University Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, or STEM, Café event, scheduled from 6:30 to 10:30 p.m. Aug. 12 at Bliss Creek Golf Course, 1 Golfview Lane, Sugar Grove, will include a viewing of the annual Perseid meteor shower. Several space experts also will talk from 7 to 9 p.m. about other extraterrestrial topics, such as dark matter, current NASA missions and what causes a meteor shower.

The speakers include cosmologist and particle physicist Dan Hooper, NASA solar system ambassador James Joel Knapper and NIU STEM educator Jeremy Benson.

Benson, who also is the emcee for the event, said the shower happens once a year when Earth crosses paths with the Swift-Tuttle comet, and the meteors actually are debris from the comet’s tail. Along with seeing the annual meteor shower, he said, attendees also will be able to see a few planets that are supposed to be visible during that time.

Benson said outer space has captured the imagination of people looking up at the sky for centuries and that he loves getting people together with a common interest such as outer space. He said anybody is welcome to attend the event, whether an attendee is an avid meteor enthusiast or just has a slight curiosity about what they’re seeing when they look at the night sky.

“We cater to everyone,” Benson said.

Patrons can either bring their own telescope or use some provided by NIU during the event. Food will be for sale at the event.

NIU STEM Café events are meant to increase public awareness of the role that STEM fields play in everyday lives. The event is free, open to the public and is scheduled to take place regardless of weather conditions.

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