Astronomy Day 1998


Saturday, May 2, 1998, was National Astronomy Day.   Astronomy clubs, planetariums, and museums across the country  held daytime astronomy fairs and evening star parties, "To promote the forerunner of all scientific endeavors and to provide information, resources, and encouragement in all facets of astronomy."

On the local level, members of the Auburn Astronomical Society, gathered at the W. A. Gayle Planetarium, to share with the public, our fascination with astronomy.  The event was the brain-child of Rick Evans, Director of the W. A. Gayle Planetarium.  Once the event was conceived, AAS member, Rick Fanning, who works part-time at the planetarium, nurtured the project and helpedcoordinate the event between the planetarium and the AAS.  There was never a question about our being eager to participate.  Rick Evans handled the publicity, arranged for Oak Park to remain open long after the usual sunset closing time, had police security, and  even provided sandwiches and drinks for us. Rick had scheduled the presentation in the planetarium to begin at 7:00 PM with viewing through the telescopes to take place at 7:30 PM.  AAS members  bringing their scopes began arriving by 5:30 PM.  By the time visitors started to arrive, many of the telescopes were already set up, and several guests were treated to views of the first quarter moon as they entered the planetarium.

A total of over twenty telescopes were made available to the public.  The prize for most efficient packing went to Ricky Wood and Scott Thompson, who somehow managed to put Scott's 7-inch f/7 refractor with mount and pier AND Ricky's 12-inch Meade and tripod into Ricky's Honda!  They also won the award for most dedication to the cause, by removing the scopes from their permanent locations in Scott's observatory.

Special thanks to the following who, without whose help, the event  would not have been possible:

Robert and David Rock:  Celestron C-8, SCT and 2045 Meade SCT
Rex  & Jennifer Roach:  Meade 2080 and Celestron Compustar, the 8" SCT
John Shaw:  10-inch Meade SCT ; 5" rich-field refractor
Alan Cook: Tripod mounted 20X80  binoculars & his 10" LX50
Christina Wilson: "I have that little catadioptric that I can bring."
Scott Thompson:  7-inch AstroPhysics refractor
Marc Schrier:  10-inch Meade Dobsonian; TeleVue Ranger
Russell Whigham:  Celestron C-11, SCT; RV-6; 80mm & 60mm refractor
Ron & Jeanetta Hatherley: 10-inch Dobsonian; Meade ETX; 90mmMaksutov
Bill Possel: 4-inch Astro-Physics Traveler refractor
Ricky Wood:  12-inch Meade SCT, LX200
Rick Fanning & Skot McCullough: 8-inch Meade SCT; binoculars
Marty Skelton and Lee Cook were also on hand to share the evening with us.

Apologies if you were there and I didn't see you -- we were somewhat overwhelmed with the crowd as they came out of the planetarium to have a look through our scopes.


 Scott Thompson explains to some of  the Astronomy Day visitors what they should expect to see as they have a look through his 7-inch Astro - Physics f/7 refractor

Ron and Jeanetta Hatherley assist visitors as they view the first quarter Moon through Ron's Meade ETX 90mm Maksutov and his 10.1-inch Coulter Odyssey II, Dobsinian telescopes
Marc Schrier readies his computerized 10-inch Meade and TeleVue Ranger rich field refractor as the visitors have a look on their way in to the presentation inside the planetarium

Rick Fanning, who works at the planetarium on weekends, and his son Skot put the finishing touches on their 8-inch Meade SCT.

Ricky Wood had his new 12-inch Meade SCT in its alt-az mode 
Bill Possel has been in Montgomery  attending the Air University at Maxwell AFB for the past  year and has been one of most active observers.  Here, we see Bill setting up his 4-inch Astro Physics Traveler refractor. 

Christina Wilson and her 76mm Schmidt Newtonian

Alan Cook, with his 10 Meade Lx-50 in the background, watches as Ron Hatherley focuses the ETX, while Bill Possel has a sneak preview of the moon through Ron's 10-inch

 John Shaw brought his 10-inch Meade LX-50 
and a home-built 5-inch, f/5 refractor
Also attending, but not pictured here, were Robert Rock and his son David,  Russell Whigham, Rex and Jennifer Roach, Marty Skelton, and Lee Cook 

Special thanks Rick Evans for coordinating the event and to all who made the time to help make this first venture with the planetarium a huge success.