(Photo Credit: John Endreson)
Astronomy clubs play an important part in their communities. Partnering with local festivals, celebrations, and public centers such as museums, they can be found sharing their love of the night sky with hundreds of people. See how these clubs turned festivals into fun-filled learning for anyone lucky enough to stop by their displays. In less than four years, member clubs have logged 7,000 events and reached over 600,000 people. Hear about some of the recent big events below.
Rosemarie Spedaliere got an idea while sitting at a concert in the park. People kept asking her about the stars and she thought it would be fun to share the sky at the Berkeley Community Pride Day in New Jersey. So the Society of the Toms River Area (ASTRA) showed up in full force with a display, telescopes, and binoculars, ready for the 1200 visitors that arrived that day. She tells us, "Well, this was the most unbelievable session we have ever done! People came in groups of 20 or so non stop all day. Unreal the number of people at our display and at our tents. The thing of it was the people were all interested and asked great questions galore. We were hearing so many of the other vendors say they were having trouble getting people to come to their displays but all we had to do was point to the skies and people flocked over."
In Texas, the Brazos Region Astronomy Service Society (BRASS) partnered with the Museum of Natural History at the frontier heritage festival called Boonville Days. Dennis Utley said that even the clouds could not dampen the 250 visitors at this event: "It was a great event to help provide memories. In some cases four generations attend together. There were a couple of small sunspots otherwise the sun was rather quiet. Still, kids enjoy looking through the giant binoculars and a telescope even if all they get to see is a tree branch."
At the Museum of Science & History Star Party in October, the Fort Worth Astronomical Society illuminated many people in their community. Michele Martinez says, "The kids loved throwing rocks at the flour pan 'moon,' especially the preteen boys. And they were impressed that the best time to look at the moon is not at the full moon. Everyone was surprised to learn that night rises and loved seeing the Earth's shadow!" They shared not just their enthusiasm, but also some important knowledge with 200 people that day.
It is the dedication of people in over 200 clubs across the United States that makes the Night Sky Network such a fantastic partnership. We salute events both big and small and look forward to the one million mark.