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Vancouver-based 'May the Fourth' event to inspire space, science interests

Last Updated May 4, 2021 at 3:51 pm PDT

(Courtesy: Twitter/@SpaceCentreYVR)

This is the second time the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre is hosting this event virtually

The event will feature some special guests with a direct link to the 'Star Wars' films

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – It’s a celebration of May the Fourth that’s not so far, far away, and is tapping into the popularity of the ‘Star Wars’ films to inspire people to get interested in all kinds of sciences – not just the ones involving space.

The H.R. MacMillan Space Centre is hosting a ‘May the Fourth Be With You’ virtual family night to get people talking about exoplanets and the similarities they share with worlds in the Star Wars universe.

The event also has an immediate connection to the films, according to Michael Unger who is the centre’s programs coordinator.

“We have special guests from Industrial Light and Magic. If you’re not sure who they are, ILM, they are the people who do all of the special effects for Star Wars, so we partnered with them the last couple of years. Going virtual allows to get access to some amazing people that work there,” he tells NEWS 1130.

Unger says they’ve been able to capitalize on the ability to go virtual by connecting with ILM, and combining their work with the knowledge of one of their astronomers so that people can learn more about these planets.

“We have creative directors and special effects directors, along with our astronomer, Marley [Leacock], and people in the webinar are going to be able to ask us questions, they’re going to give us a presentation of some of the work that they do, and give us some inspiration: how they got involved in their fields, and how they got their careers started through science.”

The centre has been holding at least one online event each month, and Unger says that focus has opened some really great doors for them, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“A lot of the [audience that might not] live in Vancouver proper, sometimes it’s a long trek in, so we’ve found that our reach has been a lot broader, and people can go right onto our YouTube page and connect with us around the world.”

Unger, whose career was inspired in part by his exposure to Star Wars as a youngster, says anytime the centre can get people talking about the sciences, it’s a success.

“We’ve really branched out into lots of different areas of science, and we like to say that our subject matter is the universe, which means everything,” he said.

“We’ve been able to connect with groups like the Centre for Brain Health out at UBC, and we talk about how the brain works, and in the context of the universe and how our brains can comprehend things in the universe. Then we also hear about various forms of the research that they do, and tapping into those different aspects of those sciences, whether it’s engineering, whether it’s math — we just had Pi Day last week — talking about Albert Einstein, talking about math, talking about any subject is a great jumping off point for us to talk about the universe.”

As for any planets or satellites that have similarities to the worlds of Star Wars? Unger says there’s a moon that orbits Saturn that looks a little… ominous.

“This moon is called Mimas, but if you look up a picture of Mimas, it will look very similar, it looks almost exactly like the Death Star, it s a very grayish looking moon with a big sort of crater in one side of it, and whenever I look at Mimas, and I’m sure most people when they look at it, it reminds them of a Death Star.”

If you’d like to attend the event, click here for details.