Astronomy Day 2000

It was bound to happen. After enjoying perfect weather for our first two Astronomy Day celebrations at the W. A. Gayle Planetarium, April showers rained on our parade this year. And, while this precluded any telescopic observing by the visitors, we did manage to have an excellent turn-out, thanks to the ambitious publicity efforts of Rick Evans, director of the planetarium, and his staff. 

By 5:00 PM, it was obvious that we would be looking at telescopes—not through them, so we set up all of the telescopes up in the lobby of the planetarium. It afforded an excellent opportunity for the visitors see some serious amateur equipment as well as have questions about telescopes, amateur astronomy, and their own hardware answered and explained. Rick  had sandwiches and drinks for those of us who had a hard time fitting dinner into the evening’s schedule. 

The evening began with AAS president, Rhon Jenkins, narrating the Power Point presentation (created by Rick Evans)  introducing the Auburn Astronomical Society to the guests, explaining who we are and what we do. Following Rhon’s AAS promo, Rick turned on the stars in the planetarium (where it never rains), gave us a sky show and concluded with a laser demonstration. 

From there we adjourned to the lobby for our optical show-and-tell and answered questions that ranged from  “What telescope should I get for my child.”, to “Can you put this telescope together for me?” Scott’s demonstration of his new Paramount go-to mount driven by his TheSky software running on his laptop. Rhon’s 18-inch mirror in the bottom of his StarMaster Dobsonian  was equally impressive.


Rhon Jenkins' 18-inch Starmaster dominates the planetarium lobby.

Joyce Jenkins is shown here assisting an Astronomy Day visitor.

Scott Thompson's 7-inch AstroPhysics sits 
atop his new Paramount go-to Mount.
For an afternoon, the planetarium resembles a telescope store showroom with AAS members explaining the differences and advantages of the various optical and mechanical designs represented.
Again, our heart-felt thanks to Rick Evans, Rick Fanning and Herb Traywick for doing all of the work on publicity and logistics, and without who this event would not even be taking place. 

Special thanks also to those who went to considerable effort to bring their equipment out on such a rainy evening: 

             Rhon and Joyce Jenkins; 18-inch StarMaster 
             Russell Whigham; Celestron, C-11; Criterion, RV-6; Meade 80mm f/15 refractor 
             Winston Blackmon; Celestron C4.5 Newtonian 
             Alan Cook; Meade 10" LX50 and 20x80 binoculars 
             Scott Thompson, Ricky Wood, and David Wayne Key ; 7-inch Astrophysics 
             Nick Nicholson; 12-inch Meade LX-200 
             Charles Boyd; 60mm refractor 

 Also representing the society and lending moral support were: Dorn Majure, Nichole Long, Dennis Grantham, Jeff Graves,  Pauline and Jasmine Bechtold. A sign-up sheet for visitors interested in keeping up with what we do, yielded several new names to the e-mail list:

             Tyler Tombacaris 
             Tim Hensley 
             Ryan Hensley 
             Jill Robinson 
             Lonnie Wiggins -- New Member J , 
             Ragau Ram 
             Phillip Lyman 

Astronomy Day 2000 has been the most productive yet as far as outreach to new amateurs goes.