Manistee resident becomes NASA Solar System Ambassador

MANISTEE — Manistee resident Brooke Edwards has always been fascinated by the universe. Now, she is sharing that passion with others.

Recently, Edwards was selected by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory to serve as a Solar System Ambassador for the Manistee area. Through the program, she plans to bring astronomy to the area through local events.

“I have always been interested in astronomy and space sciences, so when I was moving to Manistee the

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first thing I noticed is there are no astronomy clubs here or astronomical sciences,” she said. “I realized I would miss that when I came here.”

In July 2018, Edwards moved from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to Manistee to be with her fiance. Previously, she was involved in various clubs and activities related to astronomy.

Edwards also has a degree in elementary education with a minor in natural sciences.

“I figured I would actually start something in Manistee,” she said. “I saw a post to apply for the Solar System Ambassador program, and I thought that would be a great idea.”

The process to apply for the program, she said, was not necessarily simple.

“I had to do the whole application process, they checked references, did an interview, I wrote an essay,” Edwards said. “And I got it.”

As part of the program, ambassadors host events year-round focusing on different themes related to astronomy. For her first event, Edwards will hold a star party at Manistee’s First Street Beach. The theme of the event will be the Earth’s moon.

The event will start at 9 p.m. on May 18, and if needed, the rain date will be at 8:30 p.m. on May 25. Events are open to people of all ages.

As a newcomer to the area, Edwards said Manistee’s beaches are the perfect place to stargaze.

“It’s a great location,” she said. “It’s out in the open, there are no obstructions. That’s what is great about Manistee, you do not have the obstructions that you have out in the big city.”

Solar System Ambassadors often take on other responsibilities, aside from sharing the latest discoveries of NASA’s missions.

“We are bringing forward discoveries that they make,” Edwards said. “We a lot of times are called to work with libraries to do events with the kids, especially with the summer reading programs.”

While Edwards has been involved with astronomical studies for most of her life, she said living in the Manistee area has given her a whole new way to educate others, observe the night sky and learn more about the vast universe.

“When I moved here I thought, ‘Wow I can see the Milky Way for the first time’,” she said. “I never saw it before. In Philadelphia there were tall buildings and light pollution.”

Bringing astronomy to the Manistee area, Edwards said, is a benefit for local youth who might not have been exposed to tools like a telescope, or who do not know about NASA’s missions.

“Once you get (a child) up to the telescope, and they look at the night sky, their faces light up,” she said. “They love it.”

Although this is Edwards’ first time in the program, she hopes to continue her mission in spreading knowledge about astronomy and NASA’s missions for years to come.

 

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Posted by Ashlyn Korienek

Ashlyn is the cops & courts and city reporter for the Manistee News Advocate. You can reach her at (231) 398-3109 or akorienek@pioneergroup.com

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