This is the first update of the afternoon from NCREN Community Day 2010.

Nearly 300 are participating at MCNC’s two-day annual event celebrating the North Carolina Research and Education Network (NCREN) at the N.C. School of Science and Mathematics in Durham. Approximately 117 are first-time attendees to the event.

This year’s theme of Enhancing the Learning Experience will paint a vision for North Carolina’s future where opportunities are unlimited through technology and collaboration.

Scheduled today are several high-energy panel discussions and keynote presentations. This afternoon’s keynote is Erik Garr (co-author of the FCC’s National Broadband Plan). According to Garr, he plans to use most of his time to answer questions about the national plan.

If you have a question for Erik Garr, email You can also follow all the action for Community Day on Twitter at and live video stream at

The first community presentation featured Gerald Cecil, professor of astrophysics, and Dan Reichart, associate professor of astrophysics, both at UNC Chapel Hill and users of the Southern Astrophysical Research (SOAR) Telescope.

UNC’s access to the SOAR Telescope, located in Chile, is enabled by Internet connectivity and the ability to remotely control instruments and quickly retrieve data.

Cecil provided an overview of the work and even indicated that the Milky Way and Andromeda Galaxies will merge – in about 4 billion years. Reichart provided a live demonstration of UNC’s PROMPT Telescopes in the Chilean Andes.

The SOAR Telescope is a 4.1-meter-aperture telescope designed to work from the atmospheric cut-off in the blue (320 nm) to the near infrared, to have excellent image quality (0.22 arc-seconds), to do fast slewing and to have up to nine instruments mounted ready for use.

It was funded by a partnership between the U.S. National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO), the Ministério da Ciencia e Tecnologia of the Federal Republic of Brazil (MCT), UNC and Michigan State University.

SOAR is situated on Cerro Pachón – IV Region – Chile, at an altitude of 2,700 meters (8,775 feet) above sea level.

Stay tuned for more updates from today’s keynote presentation, the debate on Net Neutrality and a panel discussion on municipal broadband.

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