Observatory hosts Family Night

By Nicole Briggs

Contributing Writer

A little rain was not enough to stop true Lewisburg astronomy fans as they made their way to the observatory for Family Night on Saturday.

The night began with a lesson from Katelyn Allers, assistant professor of physics and astronomy, on how to properly use a planisphere, a device that maps out the stars in the night sky. After everyone was taught how to properly use their planispheres, Tyler Szwarc ’11 stepped up to give a presentation entitled “The Stories in the Stars.”

“The sky was a little bit like the Internet to ancient people. They could look to it for anything they needed to know,” Szwarc said.

There were many people in attendance, and families such as the Heymans learned about the event from a pamphlet passed out in their son Logan’s kindergarten class.

“[Logan’s] just been wanting to learn about astronomy,”said Lewisburg resident Mary Joe Heyman.

Szwarc described how the ancient Greeks used the constellations to tell stories as well as answer questions. He asked, “How many people on a daily basis go out and look at the stars?”  Then he told the stories of some of the stars, such as Orion and his dogs Canis Major and Canis Minor, as well as many others. He had the audience use the planisphere so that they could see the constellations for themselves and see that stars have their own stories just like our own lives.

“We’re pretty happy with the turnout given the weather. It’s always a good time and everyone’s learning a lot,” Allers said.

One of the highlights of the night was the opportunity to look at the historic and recently refurbished Clark Telescope.  Since it was raining, the attendees were unable to actually look through it, but it was impressive nonetheless. Allers described her admiration for the telescope, but the the biggest fan was definitely Logan Heyman.

“It was huge!” he said as made his way back from viewing the telescope.

The night also featured a performance from the improv comedy group We Brake for Nobody, who played games such as “Eulogy” that required audience participation.

Family Night is an annual event that occurs every spring.  In addition, there is an open house during Family Weekend in the fall, and the Astronomy Club holds viewing nights the first Friday of every month.

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