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NASA ‘Discover Exoplanets’ Exhibit Coming To C.H. Booth Library March 23



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C.H. Booth Library will host NASA exhibition “Discover Exoplanets: The Search for Alien Worlds” from March 23 until late May.

This national traveling exhibit showcases the vastness of space and astronomy by focusing on exoplanets, which are planets beyond Earth’s solar system. Visitors will learn about exoplanets and how NASA scientists are searching for habitable worlds through hands-on, multimedia kiosks and activities spread throughout the three floors of the Main Street host location.

Each activity tackles a different aspect of exoplanets and space exploration. “Planet Families,” for example, has visitors create their own solar systems and see how different planets react with one another. “Fact or Fiction” has visitors learn whether technology or other things seen in popular TV shows and movies could be real or not.

There are other activities such as a 48-piece solar system floor puzzle, a giant exoplanets mural to color in, a green screen for visitors to stand in front of and record a weather report on a foreign exoplanet, and much more.

Booth Library Head of Circulation Tom Nolan believes the exhibit gives people an opportunity to see and interact with the library in a “totally different way.”

“I think this gives us the opportunity to interact with patrons,” Nolan continued. “We can interact with them on a different level than just checking out books and maybe find out what their expectations are for the library going forward.”

The decision to host and manage “Discover Exoplanets” was spearheaded by Adult Programmer Kate Sasanoff, who is quick to point out the project has also been supported by her team and fellow library staff members including Nolan, Young Adult Librarian Darcy Sowers, Children’s Librarian Alana Bennison, and Library Director Jennifer Nash.

The team has also worked in collaboration with NASA and local organizations to create a wide variety of events and programs to celebrate the exhibit. These range from needle felting aliens and making galaxy earrings out of polymer clay to astrophotography with local photographers and NASA speakers showcasing presentations on their research.

Nash is hoping the exhibition will attract new visitors.

“Maybe people will visit the library that haven’t been here before. It’s good exposure in that way,” she said. “It’s been fun working on it, creating different types of programs around exoplanets and space in general.”

The application process to host the exhibit was regarded by the team as very competitive. Newtown’s library is only one of ten public libraries in the country selected to host the exhibit between its June 2023 to December 2025 duration. Booth Library is also one of only two stops on the East Coast for “Discover Exoplanets.”

Despite that, Sasanoff was excited to take the application process head on. As part of that process, she talked with people in town to gauge interest, found local partners to collaborate with, and ran it by library staff. Sasanoff hopes her efforts and her team’s efforts with the exhibit will uplift the community and continue bringing everyone together.

“I can’t even express [to my team] how grateful I am that they’ve gone along with my crazy idea that brought so much extra work and effort for them. I’m just so grateful to them,” Sasanoff said. “I think not only will they reap the benefits of this partnership, but so will the community and the library.”

“Discover Exoplanets” is being installed at the library with the help of Space Science Institute (SSI) Education Associate Stephanie Vierow-Fields. SSI is an education and research nonprofit that originally built exhibits for museums and science centers, only to start working with libraries upon realizing their wider outreach.

In an interview with The Newtown Bee, Vierow-Fields gushed about the various activities of the exhibit and of how happy she is to help bring the exhibit to people throughout the country.

“We want to make sure that this exhibit reaches historically excluded and underserved communities in STEM,” Vierow-Fields said. “Because it’s not just about getting this out there, we want to make sure that communities who would not normally get access to museum-quality exhibits can get that access now.”

She hopes the exhibit will excite everyone in the community and continue the age-old curiosity of life beyond the solar system.

“From the dawn of time, people have looked up into the stars and wondered if anything was out there. So, this just continues that wonder,” Vierow-Fields said.


Reporter Jenna Visca can be reached at jenna@thebee.com.

Space Science Institute Education Associate Stephanie Vierow-Fields, who has helped install the exhibit at C.H. Booth Library, stands in front of a kiosk on the first floor showcasing different types of exoplanets. —Bee Photo, Visca
The “Planet Families” activity in the children’s section of the library lets visitors create their own solar systems.
A giant exoplanets mural in the children’s section of the library for visitors to color in.
This display in the children’s section of the library featuring space books and a microscope shows how the library is getting in the spirit to host the traveling NASA exhibit. —Bee Photos, Visca
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