They are up above the world so high, like diamonds in the sky.
The Lackawanna Astronomical Society is giving people the chance to experience stars, along with planets, moons and maybe even another galaxy this Saturday, May 10, at the Thomas G. Cupillari Observatory on Hack Road in Fleetville as a part of national Astronomy Day festivities.
Astronomy Day began in 1973 when Doug Berger, then-president of the Astronomical Association of Northern California, decided to set up telescopes in various busy urban locations so people could have an extraterrestrial experience while still going about their daily lives. The event grew in popularity and has been adopted by various astronomical associations across the country, including the Lackawanna Astronomical Society.
“It is something different,” said society board member Jo-Ann Kamichitis. “With astronomy, you get a real sense of the seasons, not just weather. The stars shift gradually throughout the year, so you get a sense of the rhythm of nature. Astronomy was originally used for navigation and timekeeping.”
Astronomy Day will be held from 7-11 p.m. at the observatory. Kamichitis explained that people will get the chance to see the Moon, Jupiter, Mars and Saturn, which she called the “show stopper” of the bunch.
“Saturn knocks their socks off,” she said. “I’ve heard people actually gasp when they see it because they think it looks like a fake. Someone even asked us if we were holding a picture of it in front of the telescope. People should look for a definite ball shape surrounded by an oval ring. Sometimes the ring is edge on, so in some years it looks like a ball with a stick going through it. Sometimes you can see the rings more open because of how the planet is tilted. Right now, Saturn is very open, so it will be spectacular.”
The event will include slide shows and the chance for people to make their own star wheels and try the observatory’s telescopes, including the chance to try out the Clark Refractor Telescope, which is so large that it is housed in its own building
“People don’t know enough about the outdoors, they don’t go outside enough and they are lucky if they know that grass is real and not AstroTurf,” Kamichitis said.” We want them to come and appreciate the sky because it is disappearing on us. If you live in town, you don’t see a lot of the stars because there is so much light. If you come out here, you have a fighting chance of seeing the Milky Way in the summer or some of the planets and constellations.”
“With astronomy, you get a real sense of what the world is like,” she added. “People rely so much on their GPS that they don’t know how to get from here to there. It won’t hurt to get some real experience.”
For more information or to join the Lackawanna Astronomical Society, visit lackawannaastronomicalsociety.org or call John Sabia at 570-586-0789.