CLUTE — Whether it was the crowd outside trying to catch a glimpse of the moon or attendees watching images of galaxies far, far away at the BASF Planetarium, residents found entertainment at The Center for the Arts and Sciences annual Astronomy Day.
The event gave the community a chance to view the sun and the stars Saturday with safe solar viewing technology and telescopes. The “Star Party” afterward included planetarium shows at the top of every hour with the opportunity to see live pictures from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope. During the planetarium shows, attendees also got to see the night sky on a screen that covered the entire ceiling in the venue.
It was an exciting time at the center, especially since Saturday was International Observe the Moon Night, Planetarium Director Judi James said.
“This is a world event,” she said. “The moon is in first quarter. In first quarter, that means it is going to be up for the entire event and half the moon is in light. This is the best time to study the moon.”
She also saw more volunteers helping her, with about 20 showing children around and helping with telescopes outside, James said.
“We have certainly had a more than usual number of volunteers,” she said.
One of those was 10-year-old Hayden Sanders, who has been volunteering at the planetarium for about a year, he said.
“The first time we came here and started learning lessons, it just seemed fun,” he said.
He believes space and stars appeal to people’s natural curiosity, and that’s why Astronomy Day has residents venturing to the center, Sanders said.
The evening’s activities were also educational.
Inside the planetarium, there were several activities for children, such as experiments on gravity using marbles, Texas Master Naturalist Janet Jackson-Ellis said.
“What is the force that brings you down?” she said. “Gravity. We want to explain that gravity keeps the planets in orbit all the time.”
Any time there is a space-themed event happening in the sky, such as an eclipse or a moon phase, she sees more people at the center, James said.
“When it is newsworthy, it affects attendance,” she said. “If there is something going on in the sky, there’s more people in the planetarium.”