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Celebrate International Astronomy Day

This article appeared in the April 24, 2015 edition of the Davis Enterprise.

 

By Vinita Domier

Special to the Enterprise

 

Celebrate International Astronomy Day on Saturday, April 25, 2015 with the Explorit Science Center Astonomy Club.  This special celebration starts a 6:00 pm at Explorit Science Center 3141 5th Street, Davis. The purpose of the day is to “bring astronomy to the people.”  Club members will share their love of backyard astronomy with the public at this FREE event.

 

International Astronomy Day is a biannual event held on the Saturday closest to the first-quarter moon in the spring and the fall. First organized in Northern California in 1973, the event gives urban residents opportunities to view the wonders of the universe through binoculars and telescopes.  It has grown to become a worldwide stargazing event.

 

Our ancestors spent a lot of time gazing at the sky and charting the movements of the sun, moon, planets, stars and comets. They based their clocks and calendars on the daily, seasonal, and yearly changes in the relative positions of celestial bodies. Having a good understanding of the science of astronomy was essential to survival.

 

Modern astronomers gaze at the sky to understand the origins of the universe and to deduce the fundamental scientific laws that govern it. They ‘look’ at the sky not just in the visible band of the electromagnetic spectrum but also in other wavelengths ranging from radio waves to gamma waves for a more complete picture of the cosmos.

 

Amateur astronomers gaze at the sky to behold the beauty and the majesty of the universe. They too are interested in the positions and movements of the solar system bodies and deep-sky objects. Much backyard astronomy can be accomplished by just looking up with unaided eyes from relatively dark-sky locations. Using optics like binoculars and telescopes greatly enhances the viewing experience.

 

The immense size and complexity of the universe is captivating to observe and study. For example, the further away a celestial object is from the earth, the further back in time we see that object. Light travels at a very fast yet finite speed, even in the vacuum of space – 186,000 miles/second.

 

Sunlight takes 8.3 minutes to reach Earth from the sun; starlight takes 4.2 years to reach Earth from our nearest stellar neighbor, Proxima Centauri. Some objects we see in the sky now may no longer exist. We don’t know about their demise since the light from these objects has not yet reached Earth.

 

Explorit Science Center Astronomy Club will meet on Saturday, April 25, 2015 at 6:00 pm. The special event begins by viewing the sun using telescopes equipped with special filters. Following the viewing, the indoors presentation, at 7:00 pm,  explores the aspects of observational astronomy for backyard enthusiasts. The evening concludes with a star party outside looking at the wonders of the night sky, including planets, stars, and nebulae, through telescopes and binoculars. The event is FREE and all ages are welcome.

 

For more information, contact Vinita Domier at vcdomier@yahoo.com.

 

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Explorit’s coming events:

 

·      Join us on Sunday, April 26 for a special workshop on The Science of Origami at Explorit Science Center, 2:00-4:00 p.m. The Davis Origami Club will be on hand to introduce the basics of the art of paper-folding to beginners. Come practice and discuss origami with these advanced enthusiasts, and discover the ways origami, mathematics and science intersect!

·      Explorit’s Exploration Gallery is open to the public every Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday, 1:00-5:00 p.m. and every Friday, 3:00-6:00 p.m.  Admission is $5.00 per person; Explorit members, teachers and children 2 and under are free. Come check out the new “Our World in Water” activities!

·      The Big Day of Giving is coming Tuesday, May 5. Be on the look-out for how your donation to Explorit can go even farther!

·      Join us at 7:00 p.m. on Monday, May 11 for “Life Beneath Tahoe Waters—The Good, Bad and Weird!”, a free Explorit Evening Public Lecture by Dr. Sudeep Chandra of the University of Nevada, Reno at DMG Mori’s auditorium, 3805 Faraday Ave. in Davis.

·      Interested in helping out the community through board membership? Explorit is currently seeking individuals in the community to serve as members of our volunteer board. Please call or email for additional information on how to apply.

·      Interested in membership?  Think your Explorit membership may have lapsed?  Call Explorit at 530-756-0191 to check or sign up!

·      Birthdays are back at Explorit!  Call Explorit at 530-756-0191 for more information or to book your party.

 

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Explorit Science Center is located at 3141 5th St. For more information call (530) 756-0191 or visit http://www.explorit.org, or “like” us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/explorit.fb.

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