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The Universe Brought Down to the Streets

Mercury Spring 2010 Table of Contents

FETTU traveling exhibit at Columbia University, New York City, October 2009.

FETTU traveling exhibit at Columbia University, New York City, October 2009.
Credit: FETTU.

by Megan Watzke and Kimberly Arcand

The International Year of Astronomy 2009 (IYA2009) brought an unusual set of opportunities for those of us in the profession of communicating astronomy. How could we contribute to the lofty, yet incredibly important IYA2009 goals that included "stimulating worldwide interest…in astronomy and science"?

Our answer was somewhat simple: put astronomy in unexpected places. Moreover, take advantage of astronomy in its most attractive and accessible form -- its spectacular imagery -- to introduce the wonders of the cosmos to the widest possible audiences. By treating science akin to art in its presentation, we hoped that people around the world might be introduced to the excitement and intrigue astronomy has to offer.

The resulting project was "From Earth to the Universe," or FETTU for short. To date, there have been more than 500 FETTU exhibitions in nearly 70 countries on every continent (except Antarctica). In the United States, there have been more than 40 exhibits in 25 states around the country. (A full list of FETTU events is available here.)

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