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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Stargazers crowd Mall

    There were tall ones, short ones, fat ones and skinny ones.

    Different sizes and shapes of telescopes were all used by amateur astronomers and anyone curious enough to look up into the sky Saturday, National Astronomy Day. Members from the Tucson Amateur Astronomy Association, the UA’s Flandrau Science Center and local Tucson astronomy businesses set up about 30 telescopes on the UA Mall for the UA and Tucson communities.

    “”It think it’s cool,”” said Ariana Durain, a student from Donald J. Richey Elementary School. “”I like looking at all the telescopes and seeing the sky.””

    David Levy, president of the National Sharing the Sky Foundation, and his wife, Wendee, have held the star party for more than 10 years as a way to get people interested in not only astronomy but also science and engineering.

    Levy started the foundation about a year ago after realizing the U.S. was falling behind other countries in producing science and engineering graduates.

    “”The mission of the National Sharing the Sky Foundation is to inspire people to reach for the stars,”” Levy said.

    The event started around 3:30 p.m. with telescopes, fitted with filters, pointed toward the sun. As day turned into night and the stars started to appear, more people arrived to see and learn more about what makes up the sky.

    Wendee Levy said the event is about not just teaching but also encouraging people to learn more about the sky and to do something for the community.

    “”It’s a fun way to do something good when there are too many negative things going on around us,”” she said.

    The event was free to the public, but participants could contribute to the foundation by purchasing raffle tickets, making donations or buying and renaming a star.

    Proceeds from the event will go toward constructing large telescopes across the country and funding lectures, Wendee Levy said.

    Michael Turner, a member of the Tucson Amateur Astronomy Association, has attended the annual star party for five years and said he believes in what David Levy is doing and enjoys sharing his hobby with people in the community.

    “”I love the sky,”” Turner said. “”I’ve been an amateur astronomer all my life, and I love the constantly changing sky.””

    David Acklam, another member of the association, said he enjoys watching people use his telescope because it’s like giving something back to the public.

    “”Astronomy is one of those hobbies that you can really enjoy,”” Acklam said. “”It’s a lot of fun for me, but it’s even more fun to see the payback.””

    Some UA students passing by stopped out of curiosity to see what was happening.

    “”These (telescopes) are just incredible,”” said Doug MacDonald, a business management sophomore. “”I have never seen anything like this.””

    Said Lars Baugh, a business marketing freshman: “”I think it’s a great event. It opens the eyes of the public to the wonders of astronomy.””

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