Did you know that some stars throb and pulse like a heartbeat? That some stars change their color or their brightness back and forth over days or months? Or that one of the brightest stars in our sky has suddenly dimmed quite noticeably, and astronomers don’t know why? Join us at MSU St. Andrews in Midland to learn more!
Families with school-age and older children are invited to an evening of astronomy and observing. We will begin with a short (~ 1 hr) discussion about stars. We will cover what they are made of, how far away they are, how “normal” stars behave, how “unusual“ stars are different, and what the forces are that hold them together, as well as those trying to tear them apart. Just as important, we will also describe how astronomers can know such things. We will also include a brief update on a bright star that you can see without a telescope which has suddenly dimmed. And, as always, we will show you how to find the planets and other bright objects that are currently in the sky this month.
Plus, if the clouds stay away, we will follow with an observing session using our fine collection of telescopes. If you’ve never seen the Moon through a telescope, this will be a special treat. The Moon will be a crescent during Astronomy and Telescope Night. At this phase, the eastern lunar “seas” will be visible, and mountain ranges near the terminator will be in view. Brilliant Venus is easily seen after sunset this month until about 9 PM, and in our telescopes you can see that it has phases like the moon. Mars and Jupiter shine in the morning sky, before sunrise. Since we discussed stars during the presentation portion, we will take the opportunity to show you the different types of stars visible in our sky, including a special few that changed the history of science.
There are always other options to see on Astronomy and Telescope Night. This is a good time to view the Great Andromeda Galaxy—the furthest object visible with the naked eye! Many stars and constellations will also be visible from our St. Andrews site. We can help you learn to identify the brighter stars by name, as well as the brighter constellations. Also, there will be double stars, clusters, and other galaxies visible by binoculars or telescope. It all depends on what interests our attendees the most!
In case of clouds or bad weather, come anyway! We will still be offering the presentation on stars and what’s in the sky this month. Plus, we will try to answer any general astronomy questions you bring.