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Free Public Star Party With The Shreveport Bossier Astronomical Society

Cran Lucas

The Shreveport Bossier Astronomical Society is hosting a free public Star Party on May 18.

The Shreveport Bossier Astronomical Society is hosting a free public Star Party on May 18. The Star Party will be held in the Shreveport Observatory, and members of the Society will help attendees use telescopes to identify different deep-sky objects. The President of the Astronomical Society, Dr. Cran Lucas, says it's a fun opportunity for people of all ages.

Cran Lucas Well one of the most exciting things for kids is looking through a telescope for the first time. I remember back to when I was about 9 years old growing up in Dallas, and one of the neighbors had actually made a home-built telescope. And so, one evening he brought it out and was showing a bunch of us neighbor kids the moon for the first time, and that was one of the most exciting things I'd ever seen at the time. And of course that was one of the things that generated my interest in astronomy and I've been into it ever since. We are just a bunch of amateur astronomers, and we just enjoy bringing the love of astronomy to the public, and we encourage the people to come out of all ages. You know, kids definitely enjoy looking at the moon for the first time through a telescope, or looking at Jupiter or Saturn. So it's lots of fun. 

Dr. Lucas says one of the main celestial objects in the sky to observe will be the moon.

Cran Lucas One of the interesting things about the Moon is that if you observe over a period of time, you can actually see the shadows move across the surface of the Moon. And you can see mountain peaks and craters move out of the shadows into the light, and that's really kind of a neat thing to do.

Dr. Lucas notes that while there will be no visible planets, there will be many other phenomena in the sky, such as double stars and nebulas.

Cran Lucas Double stars are basically two types: you have double stars that are just within the line of sight, and so they look very close together, but some double stars are actually gravitationally tied to one another, and they orbit one another. And sometimes those stars are different colors because they're different temperatures and so that makes for a rather interesting view. Nebulas are basically big clouds of dust and gas, like the Orion Nebula, which is very popular to look at, very exciting. The Orion nebula is a Stellar Nursery- there's dozens and dozens of baby solar systems that are forming within the Orion Nebula. And of course some nebulas are the results of an old star that has blown up and thrown out a lot of dust and gas, and so those are what we call Planetary nebulas, although they really have nothing to do with planets. But that's just sort of a historical accident that they got called that. So there's all kinds of neat things in the sky.

Along with double stars and nebulas, people will be able to look closely at the stars themselves, specifically constellations. Dr. Lucas says there will be many for people to find and identify.

Cran Lucas Well, some of the constellations that are going to be visible this coming Saturday include things like, of course, the Big Dipper which is very easy to find. And of course if you know where the Big Dipper is, you can also find the North Star that we call Polaris. Also visible, or going to be, is a constellation called Gemini which is named by the Greeks after the twins. A constellation called Cancer, which is the crab. Another constellation:; Leo, the lion. And Virgo is also going to be out there, and one called Hydra which kind of stretches, or winds its way around the sky. Also, there is a constellation called Bootes and Hercules. There’s a lot of stuff up there, and of course one of the fun things to do, particularly for kids, is to begin to learn to identify some of the constellations. And we can help people do that.

Dr. Lucas says The Shreveport Bossier Astronomical Society wants to provide people with astronomical education through resources on their website, Star Parties, and their general passion for astronomy.

This is Alaina Atnip with Red River Radio News.