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Starry Night breaks record for attendees

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Posted: Monday, September 28, 2009 12:00 am

NICOLE LYNN GREINER, Alligator Contributing Writer

Dozens of starstruck children watched UF astronomy professor Steve Eikenberry use a banana, which was frozen by liquid nitrogen at minus 400 degrees Fahrenheit, to hammer a nail into a block of wood.

About 2,670 people attended the Florida Museum of Natural History's Starry Night to see demonstrations, exhibits and speakers.

Starry Night is an annual event that aims to get earth dwellers more interested in space.

Amanda Arner, public programs education assistant, said the event, which usually attracts several hundred visitors, broke museum records. She said the museum increased advertising but is not sure what propelled the surge of people.

This year, Starry Night was held in honor of the International Year of Astronomy, celebrating the 400th anniversary of Galileo's invention of the telescope.

Starry Night was sponsored by the museum, UF's Department of Astronomy, the Alachua Astronomy Club and the Florida Space Grant Consortium.

Arner said the production of the event cost the museum and its partners more than $10,000.

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