Astronomy Day 2011
May 7, the Auburn Astronomical Society, in partnership with the W.
A. Gayle Planetarium, celebrated National
Astronomy Day, at the planetarium in Oak Park [map]
in Montgomery. We had a beautiful sunny day with mild temperatures,
clear blue skies, and a welcome breeze. Planetarium director, Rick
Evans, had secured several presenters:
2:00 PM: AAS members and friends began setting up telescopes for the early visitors.
3:00 PM: Early visitors viewed the four-day-old Moon, and the Sun in the light of hydrogen-alpha with the AAS PST solar scope. The Sun is waking up from its extended nap and showed lots of interesting detail.
4:00 PM- 8:00PM: Susan Mallet presided over the children's activities such as making foam rockets.
5:00 PM: The “Telescope Clinic” was open for guests to bring their sick, disassembled, or otherwise malfunctioning telescopes for repair. We were able to help two families restore their telescopes to working order.
6:00 PM: Dr. George Michael: "Extraterrestrial Aliens: Friends, Foes, or Just Curious." in the auditorium followed by AAS spiel by Rhon and door-prize drawings.
7:00 PM: Dr. Sterner and Dr. Patton, directors of the James Wylie Shepherd Observatory at the University of Montevallo, spoke on the construction, operation, and future expansion of their new facility and its 20-inch PlaneWave telescope.
7:30 PM: Rick presented a "Tour of the Night Sky" in the planetarium, giving an overview of what the guests would see when they see when they stepped outside.
7:30 PM: Sunset
8:00 PM: Telescopic viewing with Auburn Astronomical Society: Our guests came out to view Saturn, the mountains and craters of the 4-day old Moon and binary star systems.
8:10: International Space Station Pass, rising in the northwest, passing directly overhead and silently soaring into the SE horizon.
Thanks to all
who made this year's Astronomy Day a great success. It was good to
see Susan Mallett again. We knew Susan when she was the principal
at Head Elementary School and hosted AAS stargazes there. She was
an inspiration to all of "her children" there and remains a passionate
advocate for flight and space education in her new position with the Civil
Air Patrol, at Maxwell AFB. Thanks to the presenters for their informative
talks while we waited for dark. Thanks to all who helped with their
telescopes -- especially those who drove from out of town to help.
And finally, special thanks to Rick Evans, for doing all of the
planning and execution of the event and drawing the large crowd for us.
We're looking forward to a return visit next year.