On Saturday, April 21st, at 7:30pm in the Craig Auditorium, the JCCC Astronomy Department will host its Evening with the Stars public open house event. The evening will begin with a talk by JCCC Professor of Anthropology, Dr. William McFarlane.
Archeoastronomy: Between the Heavens and Earth
How did prehistoric peoples conceive of their place in the cosmos? What was their relationship with the sun, moon, stars and other celestial phenomena? In what ways did their interaction with the sky shape their lived experience? And, how do we know? We will attempt to answer these questions by reviewing the evidence, interpretations, and implications of the emerging field of Archaeoastronomy.
After the talk, and weather permitting, Professors of Astronomy Dr. Doug Patterson and Prof. William Koch, will lead a tour of the night sky at the Paul Tebbe Observatory (CLB rooftop). Notable objects to be seen include: The Orion Nebula, The Moon, The Beehive Cluster, and Mizar and Alcor.
This event is open to the public and admission is free.
For more information about Evening with the Stars, or the JCCC Astronomy Program, contact Dr. Doug Patterson, firstname.lastname@example.org, 913-469-8500 x4268 or Prof. William Koch, email@example.com, 913-469-8500 x3725.
Our public open house for the Transit of Venus was surprising for a few different reasons. First, we had clear skies! Usually, when we plan a public observing events, that’s the signal for clouds to rush in from all directions and hover over the Paul Tebbe Observatory. Our second surprise after having clear skies was to have hundreds of people lined up to take a look at the Sun and Venus! Normally, we have a 50 or so people turn out for one of our events. For this past Spring’s Evening With The Stars program, we were elated to have 150 people come out. This past Tuesday, we EASILY had double that number if not more! People from the college and the community lined up down the stairwell from the roof and all the way down the hall on the 4th floor of the CLB, and all evening long, the line never shrank!
We apologize to those who weren’t able to make it to the roof before sunset, but for those who did, we got to see a fantastic and rare sight, Venus eclipsing the Sun! Venus is nearly as large as the Earth, and nearly four times the size of our Moon, but since it’s much further away from us, it’s angular size in the sky is much smaller than the Moon’s so when Venus passed directly between us and the Sun, it didn’t block the entire disc of the Sun, but only a part of it. Since Venus doesn’t orbit in precisely the same plane around the Sun as the Earth, it’s very rare that Venus ever passes directly between us and the Sun. Usually, Venus misses the Sun by a degree or two, but when the geometry is just right, we’re treated to a transit event like we were able to witness last Tuesday evening.
The dark disc of Venus passing across the face of the Sun wasn’t the only thing that visitors were able to see when they came to the Paul Tebbe Observatory. With the two different types of filters we were using to observe the Sun, we were able to see a number of sunspots, and some solar prominences, hydrogen and helium gas caught up in large magnetic arcs above the solar surface. After sunset, many stayed around and were able to see Mars and Saturn through the telescopes as well as the double-star Alberio.
All in all, it was a fantastic evening and we were overwhelmed and humbled by the magnitude of the turnout. We would like to thank everyone who came out to join us and look forward to our next observing event! To see more photos from the event, check out our page on Facebook.
The Evening With The Stars this spring had a great turn out. Thanks to all who came out. Leo gave a great talk, and I’ve heard from many of the attendees that they really enjoyed the evening. Unfortunately, the weather was not as cooperative and clouds ruined our planned observing. We’ll try again in the Fall when we have our EWtS event again. Here are some pictures from the evening.