Getting as close to the universe’s stellar attractions as possible from Starship Earth’s Kalamazoo base, and de-mything and de-mystifying what’s really out there are among the key attractions for Astronomy Day 2009 on Saturday (May 30th).
With free activities shared between the Kalamazoo Valley Museum and the Kalamazoo Nature Center, the Kalamazoo Astronomical Society’s annual salute to the stars and all of the other planetary players above and around us will run from 10 a.m. well into the night.
One of the highlights will be a presentation by Dr. Phil Plait, author of “Bad Astronomy” and “Death from the Skies,” at 7 p.m. at the center’s Coopers Glen Auditorium, 7000 N. Westnedge Ave. He will demolish a wide array of scientific misconceptions and debunk the myths that permeate the universe.
Earlier, he will be at the downtown-Kalamazoo museum for a book-signing stint.
That is also where actor/educator Michael Francis will portray Galileo Galilei as part of the 400th anniversary of the scientist’s breakthrough use of an astronomical telescope to probe the skies. His interactive presentations are timed for 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. in the museum’s Mary Jane Stryker Theater.
Among its contribution to Astronomy Day, the museum will offer five free planetarium shows about the night sky. They are set for 11 a.m., noon, 1, 2 and 3 p.m.
Beginning at 10 a.m., the society and the museum will set up telescopes in the adjacent courtyard for people of all ages to safely take closer looks at what is overhead.
Members of the society, which was established in 1936 in Kalamazoo, will have displays of telescopes, Galileo’s discoveries, and astrophotography. Youngsters will have an opportunity to construct their own makeshift telescopes.
After 4 p.m., the scene shifts to the nature center for Plait’s presentation. Tickets are available at the museum during the day and those ducats guarantee a seat in the auditorium until 6:50 p.m. when the doors will be opened for any other people interested in the commentary.
Following that, Plait will offer a 20-minute talk about the planetary and deep-sky objects such as the ringed-planet of Saturn that will be observable through the telescopes of all shapes and sizes set up out there beginning at nightfall. People are welcome to come there at 8:30 p.m. to take part in the Astronomy Day’s final act.
“Our intent,” said Richard Bell, who is coordinating the signature event for the society, “is to widen knowledge and appreciation of science – particularly astronomy – among families with school-age children.”
Funding for Astronomy Day 2009 was provided by the Irving S. Gilmore Foundation, the Western Michigan University Department of Physics, the Michigan Space Grant Consortium, and members of the society. More information is available at http://astroday.kasonline.org/
Source: News release from Kalamazoo Valley Community College