Astronomy Day! and Eve!

The semiannual Astronomy Day will be celebrated Friday and Saturday with star shows, reduced prices for Clark Planetarium, physics and astronomy demonstrations and a speech by the only former U.S. senator who also served as an astronaut

[The Astronomical League’s logo for Astronomy Day]

The Salt Lake Astronomical Society kicks off the observance Friday, May 1, with what the group’s vice president, Siegfried Jachmann, has dubbed an “Astronomy Day Eve” celebration at the Brickyard Harmons, 3250 s. 1300 East.

“But this won’t be just any star party,” he said. “Harmons is donating prizes. We will be drawing for two Orion telescopes and a pair of 10 X 50 binoculars donated by Harmons. This continues a 30-year-long relationship with Harmons Grocery stores.”

The prize-drawing for youngsters 16 and under will be held around 7:30 to 8 p.m.

Clark Planetarium, based at The Gateway, released this list of special events for Saturday, May 2, the official Astronomy Day (the list has slight modifications):

— Schedule for Clark Planetarium:

Noon – 5 p.m. — Ongoing science demonstrations, free activities, Lunar Gravity Simulator open.

Noon – 6:45 p.m. — Enter to win a Celestron Astromaster 70AZ telescope.

1:30 – 6:45 p.m. — All Hansen Dome Theatre shows are $1 for admission. Tickets available at ticket window the day of the event.

4:30 – 5:30 p.m. — Free presentation: “How to use a telescope” by Clark Planetarium Programs Manager, Mike Murray in the Hansen Dome Theatre.

— Schedule for University of Utah Observatory (located at 125 S. 1400 E.):

2:00 p.m. — Observatory opens to public

2:15 p.m. — Solar and Venus observations

3:00 p.m. — Physics and astronomy demonstrations

4:00 p.m. — 15-minute presentation on telescopes

5:00 p.m. — Special presentation on “Intensity Interferometry” by Professor Stephan Lebohec

6:30 p.m. — Physics and astronomy demonstration

8:00 p.m. — Night observing begins

9:00 p.m. — Astrophotography introduction and demonstration

— Schedule for Stansbury Park Observatory Complex [belonging to the Salt Lake Astronomical Society, SLAS]:

Starting about 7:30 p.m. — Guest speaker Senator Jake Garn to discuss experiences as an astronaut

8:30 – 11:00 p.m. — Star party observing and SLAS telescope giveaway

The Saturday event at the Stansbury Park Observatory Complex (SPOC) starts before sunset with an eight-inch-diameter refractor telescope rigged for solar viewing, Jachmann said. Note: never look at the sun, even with naked eyes, without proper protection. To do so, especially through a telescope or binoculars, risks blindness.

The club’s special H-alpha solar filter will provide exquisite views of the sun, Jachmann said. “Unfortunately, the sun has had minimal activity for well over a year and nothing spectacular is expected.”

Garn, who flew in the Space Shuttle and is a friend of those interested in astronomy, will be the featured speaker Saturday, Jachmann said. His talk will begin about 7:30 p.m. “Garn has been kind enough to attend several of these events and is a favorite among the public and SLAS members. He always brings an interesting topic.”

That night, additional telescopes, binoculars and DVDs are to be given away as prize drawings. The drawings are limited both nights to youngsters 16 and under who are not members of the club.

“It is our goal to generate an interest in astronomy in the younger generation. We hope to create the next generation of astronomers. Astronomy is an interest that can be pursued from young to old,” Jachmann added.

“It can be a hobby for a lifetime.”

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