August 08, 2011

Navajo/Zuni astronomer

The Native Astronomer

By Michelle TiradoAlthough the job of the astronomer is a lot less lonely than it used to be—they spend far fewer long nights looking into telescopes in remote observatories and far more days in laboratories and research centers crunching numbers, analyzing data and collaborating with other astronomers—Dennis Lamenti (Navajo/Zuni) has had to deal with a different kind of loneliness: being one among too few Native American astronomers. In fact, as far as he knows, he is the only one in the contiguous United States with or working toward a Ph.D. in astronomy.And:There are a couple of programs out there created to attract more into the field. One is the Navajo-Hopi Astronomy Outreach Program at Lowell Observatory in northern Arizona. The program, started about 15 years ago, pairs astronomers with elementary and secondary school teachers at tribal schools. The astronomers go to the schools several times during the year to discuss astronomy topics and engage the students with hands-on activities. Five schools participated in the program last year, and three are on board this year.Comment:  For more on Native astronomy, see Kitt Peak Observatory on Tohono O'odham Land and Asteroids Given Luiseño Names.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Sh, don't tell them we know how to do math and science. It'll make us seem less magical.

L.E. Falcone said...

Anon, math and science, for reals? Next you're going to say you all drive cars and stuff.