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Explorit Astrocamp: "The Stars and Our Night Sky"

This article appeared in the 6/28/19 edition of the Davis Enterprise.

Explorit Astrocamp: "The Stars and Our Night Sky"

The Milky Way. Photo taken by Daniel Oberhaus.

Explorit Astrocamp: “The Stars and Our Night Sky”

by Vinita Domier

Davis Astronomy Club

 

Explorit Science Center is offering a hands-on twilight astronomy camp, “The Stars and Our Night Sky”, for youth between the ages of 12 – 16 years old who want to learn about the celestial wonders of the sky. From Monday, July 8 – Thursday, July 11, between 5 – 8 pm, the budding astronomers will learn about stars, constellations, and the solar system via activities and demonstrations. On Friday July 12, from 6 – 10 pm, the young space enthusiasts will learn about various types of telescopes used for backyard astronomy, and actively participate in a star party observing the sun, the moon, planets Mars and Jupiter, and stars.

Space is still available in the astrocamp, so if interested, please sign up via Explorit’s website at http://www.explorit.org/programs/summer-camp. Camp activities and star party are led by Davis Astronomy Club members with the aim of inspiring curiosity and wonder in the younger generation to explore the sky and teaching them astronomy basics to get started on a lifelong journey of discovery. The upcoming 50thanniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing on July 20, 2019, the total solar eclipse in August 2017, and total supermoon lunar eclipses in January 2018 and 2019 have sparked great interest in sky watching.

Astronomy, derived from the Greek words ‘astron’ meaning star and ‘nomos’ meaning law, is the oldest of all the natural sciences, and the only one that people of all ages can participate in without specialized knowledge or equipment. It is the study of sun, earth, moon, planets, asteroids, comets, stars, constellations, galaxies, black holes, etc., their movements and interactions, and their evolutions.

Solar system objects like the sun, the moon, planets Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn, and thousands of bright stars in our Milky Way Galaxy can easily be observed with the unaided eyes. Small telescopes or a pair of binoculars aid in observing Jupiter’s moons, Saturn’s rings, double stars, galaxies, nebulae, comets, etc. Modern astronomers study the vast cosmos using highly specialized equipment to understand the origin, composition, evolution, and movement of stars, galaxies, black holes, interstellar gases, etc., and of the universe itself.

Before the invention of mechanical clocks and electronic navigational aids, mankind carefully observed the movements of the sun, the moon, and the stars relative to the earth to mark the passage of time, to determine due north or south, and to predict phenomena like solar and lunar eclipses. Time interval between successive noons when the sun is highest in the sky was defined as a day, time interval between successive same moon phases was defined a month, and time interval when the same stars rose just before the rising sun was defined as a year.

Astronomy is the only science where the farther one observes an event or object in distance, the further back in time it is. This ‘time machine’ aspect of astronomy is due to the finite speed of light and gravitational waves that carry the information about the object or event to earth-based or space-based detectors. As radiation from the sun takes about 8.3 minutes to traverse the 93 million miles distance to the earth, we see the sun as it was when that light left it. Similarly, we see Andromeda Galaxy as it looked 2.54 million years ago because it took light that long to reach the earth.

 

Explorit's coming events:



·      Summer Camp spaces still available for some camps.  Visit http://www.explorit.org/programs/summer-campto find out more.

  • Visit Explorit's latest exhibition, Earth Explorations. Explorit'sExploration Galleryis open to the public every Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, 1:00-5:00 p.m.  Admission is $5.00 per person; Explorit members, teachers and children 2 and under are free.

Become a membership to Explorit.  For more information or to purchase or renew your membership online visitwww.explorit.org/join/membership-levelsor call Explorit at 530-756-0191.

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