Moon Shines on Astronomy Star Party

091113 StarParty Ellis 5976Photo By Caleb Ellis / Viking – Twinkle, Twinkle: Tim Ross, 19, an international business major, left, being shown how to adjust the telescope in order to focus it on the moon by Heven Renteria, right, an outreach coordinator from the Los Angeles Astronomy Society. “This is really cool, I might change my major.” Ross said.

Reprinted from the Long Beach City College Viking Online Newspaper

By Eliza De La Flor / Copy Editor

The LAC’s Front Quad was filled with telescopes, students and stargazers during the semester’s first star party on Sept. 11 from 7-10 p.m.

The star party was hosted by the LAC’s astronomy class in conjunction with the Los Angeles Astronomical Society. Star parties are offered every semester and are open to the public. Ean Brown, 22, a sociology major and student in the astronomy class, shared what he enjoyed about both the class and the star party.

He said, “You get to learn about the galaxy and look at really breathtaking, amazing things in a unique way. I know it’s the first time for many people in the class to view things through a telescope.”

The moon was the “star” of the party and was the view through many of the telescopes. Saturn and Venus were also visible. Hannah Brown, 21, a business major, is also in the astronomy class and helped set up telescopes for the event. At 7:30 p.m., she said, “We’re looking at the moon, Saturn and Venus.

But later, we may be able to see double stars, and globular clusters, which are many stars in a small area. Currently my favorite thing to look at is the moon, because it’s super-detailed.” Recently retired LBCC astronomy professor and former star party coordinator Mike MacCallum said he was happy to help organize the current star party. MacCallum taught astronomy at LBCC for 36 years.

When talking about the viewing conditions, MacCallum said, “We’ve got a nice sky. It’s kind of bright in the Front Quad. It’s too bad we can’t turn some of the lights down, but, we’ve got a nice sky.” Heven Renteria, an outreach coordinator with the Society, volunteered at a star party in Veterans Stadium last year. Renteria agreed with MacCallum’s sentiments on the Front Quad location having pros and cons. He said, “It’s not as dark here as it was over there, but you get more people coming by.”

Telescopes for the party were provided by LBCC and volunteers from the Society. Three of the societies telescopes were handmade, including one built by volunteer Bob Alborzian while he was attending U.C. Berkeley in 1968. Tim Ross, 19, an international business major, is enrolled in the class and said he is considering changing his major to astronomy. “Tonight, for the first time, I saw Saturn and I could see the rings.”

Kent Schwitkis, astronomy professor and star party coordinator, discussed the purpose of the star parties. Schwitkis said, “Part of what I want students to learn is getting the telescopes set up and directed at an object. Then it’s about sharing with the public and getting excited about all of it. This is a chance to look at the moon and see what Galileo saw, the craters and the mountains. It’s very different than just a picture.”

Next Star Party

-Monday, Nov. 25
-7-10 p.m.
-LAC Front Quad
-Deep sky targets
-Public invited
-Private telescopes welcomed

Kent Schwitkis

Hosted by Monday night astronomy class in conjunction with Los Angeles Astronomical Society.

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