The Galactic Center Institute is committed to education & public outreach.

By educating the public as well as future generations of scientists, we are not only sharing our exciting work, but we are also a part of the mission of continuing scientific exploration in years to come. We strive to inspire and educate:

  1. the general public about the importance of cutting-edge research and technology by broadly disseminating discoveries about black holes, which have immense popular appeal.

  2. the next generation of scientists about emerging methods for studying black holes and emerging technologies that are essential for the next generation of telescopes.

  3. the women and others who are under-represented in the physical sciences through mentoring and the visibility of a program that is led by a woman and that has an unusually diverse workforce.


Professional Education

Working with the Galactic Center Group provides opportunities to both gain profesional knowledge in physics & astrophysics involving objects under the gravitational influence of a supermassive black hole and working with the development of cutting edge optical instrumentation. The former student page shows a selection of the career path some of our students has taken.

Educational Material for Public Use

A Journey to the Center of the Milky Way. This is an introduction to our Galactic Center research and is made by graduate student Breann Sitarski and Dr. Angelle Tanner. This tutorial introduces the center of our Galaxy and discusses the processes occuring there.

Galactic Center Slide Show. A Powerpoint presentation by Dr. Jessica Lu, originally written for the UCLA Planetarium. The show is for viewers of all ages and is a pictoral journey into the center of our galaxy. It also explores the nature of the supermassive black hole. Notes explaining each slide acccompany the presentation are included, making it very useful for classroom/educational settings -- Best viewed in Slide Show mode

COSMUS 3D Interactive Animation of the stars orbiting the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way. Our collaboration with the Cosmus group is an effort to make current science available to the public for classroom use or for planetarium and museum settings.

Selected Museum Exhibits

Topics involving the Galactic Center Group's research has been feateured in several museum exhibitions.

Recommended Books and other Materials

Keck Observatory - Photograph by Lauri Hatch ©


Journey through the Universe is a week long public outreach event hosted by Gemini Observatory in Hilo, HI, where scientists visit ~3000 classrooms! For several years, members of the Galactic Center Group have participated in this very successful program which promotes sustained education in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Breann Sitarski participated in this year's program. Breann visited seven different elementary school classrooms where she demonstrated how to make a model of a comet using household materials. Also after showing a movie of Comet Ison , she worked with students by helping them think about whether the comet survived its closest approach to the Sun, based on what they saw. The observation-based learning teaches the students how to think critically, helping them become little scientists.

Dr. Gunther Witzel was a featured speaker during the monthly event All Space Considered at Griffith Observatory.

Exploring Your Universe is an inter-departmental public outreach fair by the physical science departments event that has been held in November the past four years. The 2014 Exploring Your Universe was co-hosted and coordinated by the Galactic Center's Graduate Student Breann Sitarski and took place on November 16. Over 5,500 members of the local LA community and surrounding area attended the event. The Galactic Center Group participated in the Exploring Your Universe for the first time in 2014. The 'gravity demo' especially attracted a lot of curious minds. Professor Larkin demonstrated with marbles how gravity due to a black hole affects other objects.

Click here for Division of Astronomy and Astrophysics oureach program: Astronomy Live!

Professor James Larkin is demostrating how gravity works. Credit: iPLEX, UCLA ©