Last night on the South Lawn of the White House,
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Nerd-In-Chief President Obama held an astronomy event for about 150 middle-schoolers from Washington, DC. Watch video of Obama's speech below.
He was joined by key science advisor and physicist John Holdren, as well as astronauts Buzz Aldrin, Sally Ride and Mae Jemison, "Hubble Repairman" John Grunsfeld and NASA administrators. Obama also introduced Caroline Moore, who discovered a new kind of supernova when she was 14 years old, and Lucas Bolyard, who discovered a pulsar (a rare star) as a high school sophomore.
"Now, if they can discover something great, so can any of you other students who are here tonight," Obama said. "All you need is a passion for science."
The students there had the opportunity to look through 21 telescopes, touch a moon rock, see a meteorite up close and take a 3D tour through the universe in the inflatable NASA Geodome. The President himself was the first to look through one of the telescopes, at "a double-double-star in the Constellation Lyra, 160 light years away," as explained by Holdren. "A hundred and sixty light years -- that's far away," Obama said.
The President emphasized how important science education is -- "This morning, I awarded the National Medals of Science and Technology to individuals who've made extraordinary contributions to the advancement of human knowledge," he said. He then asked the assembled middle-schoolers: "Which one of you are going to come back here to claim your prize?" to which many of the students responded, "Me!"
See video and read the full remarks of the President on astronomy after the jump.