Before the sun set on the White House South Lawn on Monday night, President Barack Obama called two astronauts orbiting the Earth onboard the International Space Station.
The extra-long distance phone call was made as part of the White House’s second Astronomy Night, which saw 11 different astronauts and 300 students descend on 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue’s South Lawn to stargaze among notables like Bill Nye and Ahmed Mohamed, the Texas student arrested at his school for making a homemade clock.
As students studied the stars via heavy duty telescopes, their actions were buffeted by the president’s words urging participation in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics education programs. “We need to inspire more young people to ask about the stars,” the president said.
Then the president got in on some of the moonlit fun himself. According to USA Today, he was given a lecture on the moon by Agatha Sofia Alvarez-Bareiro, a high school senior from New York City.
Here’s POTUS in fine stargazing form:
The president also met with Ahmed Mohamed, the Texas student who was arrested for bringing a homemade clock to school that authorities suspected was an explosive device. Obama invited Mohamed to the White House last month, and made good on his promise during Astronomy Night.
Several of the NASA astronauts present at the event also answered some questions about their experiences in outer space. From the left hand side of the photo below, you’ll see Sunita Williams, Eric Boe, Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley participating in a panel moderated by Cristin Dorgelo, Chief of Staff at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.
Selfies seemed to abound across much of the South Lawn last night, at least when students weren’t stargazing or listening to the president speak about the importance of science.
Here’s astronaut Cadie Coleman getting silly with some students.
The great Bill Nye joined in on the festivities as well, and snapped this brilliant selfie in front of the White House:
The first White House Astronomy Night took place in 2009, but due to what looks like unprecedented enjoyment shared by all at Monday’s event, we suspect it will be in popular demand for years to come.