NASA Comes to Martz-Kohl Observatory for Moon Month


Contributing Writer
Walt Pickut
Board of Directors, MKO

MEN WALK ON MOON! It was one of the biggest headlines in a century and it rocked the world on July 19, 1969. This month, the Martz-Kohl Observatory joins the entire nation in celebrating the 50th anniversary of that historic event.

Moon Landing Talk

On Saturday evening, July 23, at 7:30, at the Martz-Kohl Observatory, guest speaker Laurie Abadie, a human space flight specialist in NASA’s Human Research Program (HRP), serving as Deputy Manager for Communications, will present a program titled “Lunar Astronauts: Preparing America’s Next Moon Landing Crew.”

NASA is planning the next US expedition to the Moon in 2024, to include the next man and the first woman to take humanity’s next giant leap into the universe. The public is invited to come to Martz-Kohl Observatory on Saturday, July 27 and hear all about it from one of NASA’s top planners. On a previous visit to Martz-Kohl, Laurie described NASA’s long-range plans for a human presence on Mars. She is looking forward to her return visit and especially enjoys the lively Q&A sessions that follow her talks.

HRP is dedicated to discovering the best methods and technologies to support safe, productive human space travel. HRP enables space exploration by reducing the risks to astronaut health and performance using ground research facilities, the International Space Station, and analog environments. Jamestown Gazette readers who would like to know more about HRP’s work are invited to visit:

First Man Movie Night

On Wednesday evening, July 17, at 7:30, Martz-Kohl will screen a special, one-time showing of First Man, the award-winning 2018 film that follows Neil Armstrong and NASA through the years leading up to Apollo 11’s landing on the Moon in 1969. The movie is based on the book First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong by James R. Hansen.

First Man had its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival less than a year ago, was released in the US in October, 2018, by Universal Pictures, and won numerous, top awards. Martz-Kohl, an all-volunteer, non-profit association [501(c)3] and does not charge for admission, but appreciates the donations that have so generously supported us over the years.

The Weirdest Star in the Sky

Earlier this month, Space Magazine and The Royal Astronomical Society reported “The weirdest stars we’ve ever seen have astronomers utterly baffled,” and called it “The Weirdest Transiter.” Martz-Kohl has been tracking and studying a similar strangely-behaving star called “Tabby’s Star,” for more than a year.

On Wednesday evening, July 31, Martz-Kohl will be hosting a discussion on our findings and these strange new observations for the general public. While the scientific data will be available, the talk is gearded for the general public fascinated by the night sky and interested in learning about the latest discoveries.

Visit the Universe Yourself

After all presentations at Martz-Kohl, guests are welcome to visit one of the largest public robotic telescopes in the nation’s northeast and tour the observatories. If the weather is clear, we will be using the telescopes to view the night sky. The experience is remarkable and unforgettable.

For a deeper look at the night sky, planets, stars and the entire universe, visit the Martz/Kohl Observatory online at, check the schedule of events and visit in person. Thank you to Hall and Laury Opticians for sponsoring these Martz/Kohl columns.

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Walt Pickut
Walt Pickut’s writing career began with publishing medical research in1971 while working at the Jersey City Medical Center and the NYU Hospital and School of Medicine. Walt holds board registries in respiratory care and sleep technology as well as bachelor's degrees in biology and communication, and a master's degrees in physiology from Fairleigh-Dickinson University in New Jersey, with additional graduate work in mass communication completed at SUNY Amherst. He currently teaches Presentational Speaking in the Houghton College PACE program at JCC and holds memberships in the Society of Professional Journalists and the American Society of Business Publication Editors. He lives in Jamestown with his wife Nancy, an MSW social worker, and has three children: Dr. Cait Lamberton in Pittsburgh, Bill Pickut, a marketing executive in Chicago, and Rev. Matt Pickut in Plymouth, IN.