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VI and BCM host Astrophotography Program


The Birthplace of Country Music® just released news about its astrophotography program for elementary school students hosted in conjunction with Virginia Intermont College. VI assistant professor of cultural heritage studies and public arts, Dr. Jessica Turner, who is also BCM Museum Director and Head Curator, will facilitate the program sessions with the help of VI students and BCM staff. The program, “Youth Capture the Colorful Cosmos,” is made possible by a grant from the Smithsonian Institution.

VI students who will participate are: sophomore math major Sarah Tomlinson, junior art major Stephanie Nix, and senior photography & digital imaging major Jillian Edwards.  The program’s t-shirt design was done by senior Hannah Devaney, who is majoring in photography & digital imaging.

T-shirt design by VI student Hannah Devaney

T-shirt design by VI student Hannah Devaney

 Excerpted from the recent BCM release:

Kids often dream about experiencing outer space. For second graders at Highland View Elementary School in Bristol, Va., this dream will soon be closer to reality.

Hosted by the Birthplace of Country Music® and Virginia Intermont College, and made possible by a grant from the Smithsonian, “Youth Capture the Colorful Cosmos” is an astrophotography program giving students access to the Smithsonian’s Micro-Observatory Telescope Network and photo editing software.

With these tools in hand, they can control robotic telescopes via the Internet and “capture” their own versions of the cosmos through photographs taken from these telescopes.

Second-graders in the HVES after-school program will participate in YCCC, photographing and editing their takes on outer space. Last spring and fall, Turner coordinated this program with VI physics professor, Dr. Chuck Pearson. Thirty students from Virginia Middle School and Vance Middle School participated in the program, which helped to highlight and nurture their creative and scientific strengths.

“YCCC promotes increased interest, awareness, and knowledge of astronomy content, and understanding of technology and proficiency in real scientific research skills,” said Turner. “Our role as a Smithsonian Affiliate is to provide a variety of educational programs for students of all ages.”

For Turner, working with these second graders is an exciting opportunity to extend the program’s success. Virginia Intermont students already trained in the program will work with the second graders.

I’ve already tested the program on my own third grader, who thinks that taking photos of space is very cool. As a mother, it is important to me to teach my children to reach for the stars.

For more information on this program, please contact Dr. Turner by calling the BCM office at 423-573-1927 or by e-mailing

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