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A look back at Bern im All

“Bern im All” (Bern in Space) was a science festival during the last week of June. It was dedicated to everyone and was greatly appreciated by the general public and the scientific community around the University of Bern.

The night of the stars. (Photos University of Bern/Ramon Lehmann)

Events took place at the University of Bern and the Grosse Schanze, the Kursaal, the Bundesplatz, and at many partner locations in the city. Astronauts, professors, and highly decorated functionaries of the big space administrations ESA and NASA joined the celebrations. “All our expectations have been surpassed” summarizes Rektor Christian Leumann at the closure of the Space Village on the Bundesplatz on the last day of the fest, where a toast was spoken after the hot summer temperatures, and the thirsty activities of the day.

Several PlanetS members were involved in planning and organising and also conducting events for “Bern im All”. Dr. Timm Riesen, together with Dominik Bodenmann (AIUB), were responsible for the “school program” the “Rocket flying competition” and the “Night of the stars”. The school program took part during three days, in which a total of 29 school classes (574 children and 58 teachers) visited the University of Bern and learned about our research. The 12 available class-slots for lab visits (including shaker demo, visiting the construction and a meteorite lab) were completely booked out in record time. The feedback of the teachers was overwhelmingly positive and many happy children were seen in the hallways, holding self constructed PET rockets, star maps, and plates with steaming comets.

Saturday was a fantastic day to visit the grosse Schanze in front of the University of Bern main building. In the afternoon, roughly 600 people followed the call and took part in the big rocket flying competition. Participants completed a circuit of several places, starting with the construction of their own PET rocket, to rocket naming and mission description, to checkup and space qualification, and finally to fuelling and the launch pad, which was operated by a tireless crew of apprentices of the WP work shop. Together with the school program, over 1800 pet bottles were fused to more than 900 impressive and beautiful looking rockets. 4 winners were selected in 4 age categories to a total of 16 winners. Prices include visits to the museum of transportation in Lucerne, the Stellarium Gornergrat, the Sphinx on the Jungfraufoch, and receiving an official commemorative 50y moon landing coin.

Already in the afternoon, solar telescopes were put up, and closer to the evening everything was made ready for the following act: In the evening and subsequent night, the general public was invited to attend the “Night of the Stars” and mingle together with people from all the observatories in the canton, the Naturpark Gantrisch, and many amateur astronomers from the local clubs, that installed dozens of telescopes and put up tents with interesting information and displays. A broad variety of talks, short talks, and demonstrations of physics experiments was offered to the interested audience, and the observatories Zimmerwald and Gornergrat maintained live remote observation sessions in a nearby room. The event was a great success and more than 2000 people visited the Grosse Schanze, listened to talks and looked through the many telescopes to Jupiter, Saturn, and others objects that were clearly visible in a starry and cloudless night.

Those who wanted to learn more about the history and current events of space travel and space research at the event ” Bern im All ” could do so thanks to two exhibitions that were realized in cooperation with the Swiss Space Museum. Original objects from the Bernese missions could be seen in the foyer of the building Exact Sciences of the Institute of Physics of the University of Bern, while artifacts from the space race and the Apollo missions could be seen in the branch of the Bernese Cantonal Bank on Bundesplatz.

A big “thank you” to all members of the PlanetS, CSH, and WP with Work Shop, that helped with one or more of these events. It would not have been possible without you!

PlanetS took the 50th anniversary of the moon landing of Apollo 11 also as an opportunity to conduct a series of oral history interviews and thus underline the long tradition of the University of Bern in space research. The aim was to obtain first-hand information and little-known anecdotes from those involved in important space missions.

Among the interview partners was Dr. Jürg Meister, who worked on the development of the solar wind experiment at the University of Bern. He described how they had to construct the experiment in such a way that it did not take up more space and weight than a geology hammer that NASA had removed from the list of tools on board. Prof. Otto Eugster spoke about the analysis of moon samples as well as from Apollo missions and Soviet Luna missions. Further interviews were conducted with Prof. Kathrin Altwegg, Prof. Hans Balsiger, Prof. Peter Bochsler, Prof. Ernest Kopp and Urs Schwab, a laboratory assistant at the time. Finally, the Swiss astronaut Claude Nicollier praised the great experience of the Bernese researchers.

Guido Schwarz (production), Barbara Vonarburg (editing) and Mani Koller (camera) were responsible for the production of the oral history videos. The material was edited into short video clips, which can be viewed under



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