By Holly Watford
“Astronomy compels the soul to look upwards and leads us from this world to another.” – Plato. April 25 is National Astronomy Day and the W.A. Gayle Planetarium has big plans for the occasion. The Planetarium has partnered with the Auburn Astronomical Society; the event will take place between 5 and 10 p.m. and is free to the public.
I spoke with Rick Evans, Director of the W.A. Gayle Planetarium, about the event and what this year’s agenda will be. First, guests are welcomed to bring their personal telescopes that may be in need of repair so they can be fixed in time for the event. People who visit the Planetarium early “will be able to view the Moon and the Sun in the light of hydrogen-alpha with PST Solar Scopes and members’ scopes filtered white-light images,” Evans said.
Shortly after, Ethel Boykin from the Montgomery Botanical Gardens will be presenting in the Planetarium’s auditorium. She will be giving an overview of plans that are being made for the Botanical Gardens in Oak Park. Dr. Sterner and Dr. Patton from Montevallo University will be presenting promptly at 6 p.m. They will be discussing Montevallo’s Gentry Springs property, which features state-of-the-art telescopes and mounts, and inform guests on how it provides “ideal dark skies” and amazing views of the night sky from any point.
Evans will also be presenting around 7 p.m. He will provide an overview of the Planetarium and discuss two of the programs: “Two Pieces of Glass” and “Losing the Dark.” He will also give a “skywalk,” which is a tour of the night sky. Evans will provide an “overview of what guests will see when they walk outside.” After sunset comes the viewing experience. The Auburn Astronomical Society will assist with the telescopic viewing of Jupiter, Venus, mountains and craters on the Moon and several star systems.
Depending on the weather, this event brings a crowd from 300 to 500 people, Evans said. If you don’t own your own telescope, don’t worry. the Auburn Astronomical Society will set up telescopes for guests to use. Go to the W.A. Gayle Planetarium and enjoy a night underneath the stars.