Observatory to host International Astronomy Day _lowres

Photo provided by Highland Road Park Observatory -- Highland Road Park Observatory Program Aide Justin Northrop shows off the Renaissance sundial at International Astronomy Day 2013. The dial is a surprisingly accurate timepiece that uses the sun's reflection to measure the hour of the day, and will be on hand for demonstrations at this year's celebration.

Highland Road Park Observatory is inviting the public to celebrate International Astronomy Day from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday, May 10, at the observatory, 13800 Highland Road, said Christopher Kersey, observatory facility manager.

It’s the observatory’s eighth annual celebration.

According to a news release, Astronomy Day’s official purpose is “to promote the forerunner of all scientific endeavors and to provide information, resources and encouragement in all facets of astronomy,” but really, it’s sky lovers banding together to expose the general public to the wonders of astronomy.

Guests will be invited to explore science with a range of tools, including: Scope-on-a-Rope — a flexible magnification device, homemade comets, a renaissance sundial, radio telescope demonstrations, a sky tour at dusk and GyroXTREME, a powered human gyroscope that allows riders to experience weightlessness and the roll and tumble associated with space flight.

Visitors also can participate in a special viewing of the sun, moon, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn and maybe Mercury and Omega Centauri, weather permitting, and look through a 16-inch telescope, along with several smaller telescopes throughout the event.

Food and rides will be available for purchase.

Binoculars are available to borrow, Kersey said, though supplies are limited, and all those who have binoculars are encouraged to bring them.

The obseervatory also will hold a raffle drawing at the end of the night. Raffle tickets are $5 per entry.

Among the events at Astronomy Day will be:

Renaissance Sundial: 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. An object reflects a beam of sunlight onto the correct time notch, very accurately.

Sun viewing: 3 p.m. to 5:15 p.m. Our parent star, in the constellation Aries right now, is brought into focus. For the past few months, activity — sunspots and flares — has been increasing dramatically. Utilizing a safety filter, guests will see the sun in hydrogen-alpha light with the Coronado SolarMax II. Any sizable flares or prominences occurring at this time will be easily seen.

SLIDE! BOUNCE! RUN!: 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. The 18-foot Dry Slide, the Spacewalk and the Adrenaline Rush will prepare younger visitors for the astronaut-training grounds. Guardian must purchase wristband for child to enter any of these rides.

Comet demonstration: 4:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. The alert has been sounded by Baton Rouge Astronomical Society co-founder Craig Brenden, who will use the raw materials of a “dirty snowball” to make a comet come to life.

Train Like An Astronaut: 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Are you fit enough to leave Earth? Test your mettle with these exercises inspired by NASA’s Astronaut Program.

For a complete list of activities, visit www.bro.lsu.edu/programs/ad_schedule.html.

For more information about this celebration, call the observatory at (225) 768-9948.

The observatory is sponsored by BREC, LSU’s Department of Physics and Astronomy and the Baton Rouge Astronomical Society.