Category Archives: Events

Fall 2019 Evening with the Stars

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On the afternoon of October 8, 2019, the JCCC Astronomy Department, in collaboration with Jackie Beucher, Vice President of the Astronomical Society of Kansas City, brought in former NASA astronaut Dr. Steven Hawley, to speak about the Hubble Space Telescope. The event was a limited afternoon edition of the Astronomy Department’s fall Evening with the Stars program. Unlike all previous functions provided by the department, which were open to the public, this event was open only to JCCC students, ASKC members, and JCCC faculty and staff.

Dr. Hawley flew five shuttle missions and logged 770 hours in space. Hawley also served as Director of Space Science at Johnson Space Center. He received numerous awards, including NASA Distinguished Service Awards and NASA Exceptional Services Awards. Dr. Hawley was inducted into the US Astronaut Hall of Fame in 2007. His career with NASA spanned nearly 30 years. He is currently an Emeritus Professor of Physics and an Adjunct Professor of Aerospace Engineering at the University of Kansas.

Dr. Hawley has some first-hand experience with the Hubble Space Telescope (HST). His shuttle missions included the 1990 mission to deploy the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) and the 1997 mission to service Hubble. His talk very informative, and it gave the audience some unique insights into its construction and deployment, its problems, and its servicing. He also shared several humorous stories that one wouldn’t read or hear about anywhere else.

Because of poor weather, we were unable to have the customary open house at the observatory following the talk. We were prepared to set up special telescopes to observe the Sun. Since the Sun is very quiescent at the moment, we didn’t see the cancellation of the open house a significant loss. Given that we had a NASA astronaut as our speaker, the coolness factor of the event was already off the charts!

Alarming Astronomy: Strange Sights-Past, Present and Future

The JCCC Astronomy Department will once again open its doors and telescopes for an out-of-this-world evening on Saturday, April 13, 7:30 p.m. in Craig Community Auditorium (GEB 233). We welcome guest speaker Jay Manifold of the Astronomical Society of Kansas City. Manifold will speak on “Alarming Astronomy: Strange Sights—Past, Present and Future, exploring such questions as:

  • How did we ever survive 2012?
  • Why didn’t the world end on March 10, 1982—or May 5, 2000—or May 27, 2003?
  • Will asteroid Apophis get us anyway in 2029 or 2036?

Manifold will explore these questions and more. What makes this stuff so popular even when nothing happens? And how can we dial down the looniness?

Afterward, join J. Douglas Patterson and William Koch, JCCC professors of Astronomy, at the Paul Tebbe Observatory for a tour of the night sky. They will train our telescopes on the Moon, Mars, the Pleiades Cluster and the Orion Nebula.

About our speaker

Jay Manifold is a current member of the Astronomical Society of Kansas City and a former Vice-President, Board Member and Education Director of the organization. As a longtime volunteer and keyholder at Powell Observatory, he has delivered scores of presentations on astronomy to groups ranging from Cub Scout packs to JCCC classes, which he has assisted every semester since 2008. In fall 2009, he gave an Evening with the Stars talk titled “Asteroids, Black Swans, Global Catastrophic Risks, and How to Save Civilization.”

Archaeoastronomy: Between the Heavens and Earth

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,, 913-469-8500 x4268 or Prof. William Koch,, 913-469-8500 x3725.

Evening with the Stars — Spring 2015


“Year of the Dwarf Planets”
Saturday, April 25th, 8:00 pm
Craig Auditorium – GEB 233

This year, the two largest Sun-orbiting bodies outside of the eight major planets, will be visited for the first time by our robotic explorers. The DAWN spacecraft is moving into its final orbit around Ceres, the largest asteroid, and the New Horizons spacecraft will arrive at Pluto, the first known Kuiper Belt Object, this summer. Both spacecraft have sent back images and data on their targets and we will look at the new discoveries made by these two missions and how they’ve changed how we view small bodies in our Solar System.

Following the presentation, and provided the skies are clear, we will go to the Paul Tebbe Observatory on the roof of the Classroom and Laboratory Building (CLB) to view the night sky through a variety of telescopes. Some of the visible objects we will be able to observe are:

  • The Moon
  • Jupiter
  • The Orion Nebula
  • The Pleiades
  • M3 Globular Cluster

For more information about Evening with the Stars or our astronomy program at JCCC, please contact one of our astronomers:

Evening With The Stars – Yes, there WILL be a 2013

Presents an

“Yes! There Will Be a 2013”

Saturday, October 20th at 7pm
Craig Auditorium, GEB 233

Professors William Koch and Doug Patterson debunk many of the rumors and myths surrounding the supposed End of the World scheduled for December 21, 2012.

Following the talk, and weather permitting, Profs. Koch and Patterson will lead an observation of the Night Sky at the Paul Tebbe Observatory atop the CLB.  Notable items that will be visible are

The Moon
The Ring Nebula
The Great Cluster of Hercules
The Andromeda Galaxy

For more information, contact
Prof. William Koch at, 913-469-8500 x3725
Prof. Doug Patterson at, 913-469-8500 x4268

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Noon At Nerman Features Galileo’s Garden

The “Noon At The Nerman” program connects artwork throughout the Johnson County Campus to the scholarly activities of the faculty here on campus. This past month, Dr. Doug Patterson, Professor of Astronomy, was invited to lead off the Fall Semester with a discussion of the Galileo’s Garden sculpture that now resides on the south lawn in front of the new Sustainability Building.

During Dr. Patterson’s talk, he refered to Prof. Paul Tebbe’s work with the analemma when the Galileo’s Garden sculpture was next to where the fountain between the SCI and GEB buildings is now.  Thanks to Dr. Anita Tebbe, we rediscovered a video of Prof. Tebbe’s public talk demonstrating the analemma and the overlay he and his students made for the sculpture.

Huge Crowds Come to See the Venus Transit

Photo by Josh Randel
Venus making its way across the face of the Sun imaged by former JCCC Astronomy student Josh Randel using his Nikon D80 and one of our 8" Celestron SCTs using a mirrored glass solar filter.
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!

Photo by Don Bishop
A youngster taking a rare look at Venus and the Sun through our 12" Meade SCT. --Photo by Don Bishop
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.

Evening With The Stars

The JCCC Science Division presents an EVENING WITH THE STARS to be held on April 28th at 7:00pm in the Craig Auditorium, GEB 233.

Dr. Thomas Armstrong, Retired Professor of Physics from the University of Kansas and Principle Scientist at Fundamental Technologies, LLC, will give a talk on the history of space exploration, Human History in Space, looking at the major events in space exploration and discoveries that shape our understanding of Earth, the Solar System, the Galaxy, and the Universe as well as discussing presently understood challenges and opportunities in space for present and future generations.

After the talk and weather permitting, we will have several telescopes set up to observe the night-sky at the Paul Tebbe Observatory on the roof of the CLB. Some objects of note that will be viewable are:

  • The Orion Nebula
  • The Beehive Cluster
  • Mars
  • Jupiter
  • and the Moon.

For more information, contact either William Koch,, at (913) 469-8500 x3725, or Doug Patterson,, at (913).