A free lecture by Neil deGrasse Tyson was announced to be held at the University of Indianapolis, and was open to the public! I went online the moment tickets became available and jumped all over it! I got 2 free tickets and planned to take my less than enthusiastic partner :)
When we got to the campus at UIndy, we drove around the athletic fields and couldn't find where to go. Then we saw a sign with an arrow that said "campus event" and assumed it had to be the only big campus event that night. Big was an understatement, when we pulled up in front of the basketball arena, Nicoson Hall, we saw a line down the street. It was a general seating event, and tons of people showed up to get good seats. We were an hour and a half early and still had thousands of people in front of us.
Residents in on-campus housing were poking their heads out of their residence halls in shock, some asked what the heck was going on. On a campus of 5000 students, the additional 4000 attendants was clearly shocking. Cell phone reception was lousy as the masses flooded the small community.
We got inside and were handed gorgeous programs for the lecture, it was so nice to read about the lecture series and I was really impressed that such a small campus was able to book Dr. Tyson. Apparently they had been working on this event for more than a year. The sunken octagon arena had permanent bleachers around the perimeter, and folding chairs down front. We were in the bleachers opposite the stage, and I felt sorry for the people trying to watch from the side or even behind the stage.
The lecture was fun, but nothing really "new" that I hadn't already read about on Space.com or photographed myself. I think the real draw is the chance to see a science celebrity and to celebrate astronomy publicly. I came away with some new factoids, and it was fun to hear about events in the news from an expert with a charismatic and humorous delivery. This is starting to sound like a review, which it's not intended to be. I'll just say if you are already an astronomy buff and plan to see him speak in a lecture marketed to the average Joe, to expect fun commentary on very topical astronomy related news and not expect a science lecture.
The event went over by 20 before we left, and we didn't even stay for the Q&A - it's really more than a lecture it's like a night with Neil Tyson. Lots of fun, fun people watching, and great to see enthusiasm for science right here in Indy! The UIndy campus was also AMAZING, I had no idea. There is this little canal park in the middle with bald cypress and river birch surrounding a big oval green space. I loved it!