SJAA Ephemeris June 2000 | SJAA Home | Contents | Previous | Next

"Sky Show" Event Scheduled for Davis

Patricia Kurtz, Astronomy magazine

I represent Astronomy Magazine in its Outreach and Education arena. To this end, we are implementing a new kind of star party; one that we hope will excite and inspire the general public, as well as expert amateurs. We are proud to invite you to participate in Astronomy Magazine's Davis "Sky Show" on August 4th and 5th.

The event will be held in Davis, California, at the Veteran's Conference Center and will begin with a keynote speaker the evening of August 4th. The next day's activities may begin with a pancake breakfast followed by the opening of the exhibit area at 10:00 a.m. Our speaker series should begin shortly thereafter and will feature notables like Alex Filippenko, Ray Jay, and Seth Shostak. We will also host a special panel of astronomy personages such as Bonnie Gordon, David Eicher, Lynette Cook, and Sally Stephens. Daytime activities will include exhibits, children and family activities, vendors, photo and book signings, and solar viewing. We will set up a website that will update speakers and events as we progress. As you can tell, we are planning a full day of astronomy!

As for the night - The star party rules the night. At least it rules Saturday night! The largest area of the star party will be completely geared to the general public unfamiliar with astronomy and stargazing. There will be basic "observing stations" - one for constellations, one for lunar and planetary, and one for deep sky observing. Each station will introduce the types of telescopes in use, and some observing etiquette. The visitors will be given handouts at each station to take home with them:

Constellation Station - A quick tour of the sky and constellations. We'll introduce the summer triangle and the Milky Way along with the use of binoculars for stargazing.

Lunar/Planetary Station - We get a brief opportunity to view Venus after sunset followed by great views of a waxing Moon and will discuss their phasing. The outer gas giants will be available later in the evening. We will also talk about observing this Fall's planets Mars, Jupiter and Saturn.

Deep Sky Station - A talk (still brief, here) will discuss the difference between nebulae (i.e., reflection, dark, planetary, supernova remnants), star clusters (globs and open), and galaxies. The telescopes at this station will be separated into these three categories. The tricks to observing some objects will also be discussed.

We are looking for volunteers and telescopes to work these stations. Do you have members you consider experts or proficient in these areas that would be interested in leading a station? If you or your club would like to help run one of these stations please let us know. This will really give your members a chance to showcase what they love. And, we'd like to group most of the telescopes within these stations so that people will be able to choose what they see and learn while they're at it. Perhaps your members will have a preference as to which station they'd like to participate in.

There should be plenty of room for "hundreds" of telescopes. Please help us get the word out and make this Northern California's largest star party ever. Additionally, it will be very helpful to have an approximate count of folks with telescopes so that we can arrange special parking, if needed.

You might be asking, "Why Davis?" Recently, Davis passed one of the strongest light pollution ordinances in California. Help us show their community that light pollution does matter and that we support them with their efforts to fight it.

Please respond by email anytime, or telephone myself at (303) 948-5825, or Kris Koenig at (530) 879-0207. Email

Mail to: Patricia Kurtz
Copyright © 2000 San Jose Astronomical Association
Last updated: July 19, 2007

Previous | Contents | Next