Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Students, Teachers Get Hooked on Astronomy; National Astronomy Day Was Celebrated with the Telescope

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Students, Teachers Get Hooked on Astronomy; National Astronomy Day Was Celebrated with the Telescope

Article excerpt

Byline: WILLIAM MARDEN

For a day at least, all eyes - or at least a lot of them - at Florida State College at Jacksonville's Kent Campus were lifted to the heavens.

Despite wars and a recession, a good-sized crowd of visitors recently had their gaze focused on celestial bodies.

They were gazing at the orange globe of the sun millions of miles away through very carefully designed filters, watching little feathers erupt. In reality, they were looking at storms of titanic energies larger than the entire earth, or they were gazing at or making copies of Saturn's famous rings.

Or, they were inside a lecture hall at Kent Campus listening to the story of a guy who calls himself "The Night Watcher" because his life has been spent peering into the night sky looking for comets no one else in the history of the world - as far as we know - has ever seen.

The activities and the star gazing were all part of National Astronomy Day, a worldwide celebration of the 400th anniversary of Galileo's first use of the telescope astronomically. His use was an event that not only made him a hero of scientific inquiry, according to FSCJ professor Jenny Ohayon, but it opened up the universe to all of us earthbound souls.

FSCJ and the Northeast Florida Astronomical Society co-sponsored the event, which had the goal of increasing public interest in astronomy.

During the day, society President Stephen D. Peacock sat on a grassy area on the campus with a telescope attracting parents, children and other astronomy buffs with a chance to stare at the sun through a protective filter and watch great energy storms called solar flares erupt from the sun's surface.

Sydney VillacortaBuer, 7, said the red circle in the center of the telescope "looks really hot," while her sister Tanryn, 4, thought it looked really "cool."

"This is a time machine," Peacock said to one visitor, noting, "You're looking at something eight minutes in the past," the time it takes for the light from the sun to reach the earth."

And Peacock's wife, Jackie, said that "once somebody sees the rings of Saturn, they're hooked" on astronomy.

It didn't take the rings of Saturn to hook "The Night Watcher" David Levy, only those elusive wanderers of the night sky that drop into our view every once in a while - a few years or a few centuries - and then speed out. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.