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Dec 2011: Another Successful Party with the Stars


111203StarParty23.jpgOn Saturday, December 3, staff, students and parents at Edward Harris, Jr. Middle School, a NASA Explorer School (NES), braved the chilly night air for a fun-filled night of stargazing with the Sacramento Valley Astronomical Society (SVAS).

The popular event gives students and parents the chance to gaze upon the stars through powerful telescopes provided by SVAS. Each year, there is a new twist to the event. Two years ago, students and parents participated in a star counting activity. This year, students and parents were given STAR viewing charts to try to identify constellations. The NES team provided popcorn and hot chocolate for attendees. Students from feeder elementary schools were also invited to attend the event.

“Every person that attends this event loves it,” said Lisa Delfino, NES team member at Harris.  “There’s something about hanging out at school in the dark, drinking hot chocolate and looking at the stars that makes it a magical experience.”

Harris is an alumnus NASA Explorer School.  The NES program is NASA’s classroom-based gateway for middle and high school students that provides authentic learning experiences designed around NASA’s unique missions while promoting students engagement in science, technology, engineering and mathematics based on NASA’s resources.  As an alumnus program, Harris’ program has been reorganized.  Harris students continue to enjoy STAR parties, as well as Math & Science Discovery Nights and astronaut assemblies.

“My granddaughters loved the STAR Party,” said Laurie Viramontes, data processor at Harris.  “They had never looked through a telescope before and couldn’t stop talking about the craters on the moon, the Seven Sisters star cluster and all of the other things they saw that night.  They were so excited that I let them use my telescope to continue the party when we got home.  The STAR Party definitely sparked their interest.  I’m so thankful for programs like these to help expand a child’s education.”

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111203StarPartyPleiades.jpg
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One of the scopes was connected to camera and computer.
Some of the images from this night are shown below.

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Huge thanks go to the awesome members of the Sacramento Valley Astronomical Society who are always willing and happy to share their telescopes, knowledge, and enthusiasm with us. 

Moon.jpg
One of the other scopes viewed the moon; you could easily see the craters.

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The Triangulum Galaxy

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A brilliant star cluster, M45c
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Jupiter and the four Galilean Moons
(One of the larger scopes also looked at Jupiter and you could clearly see the bands and colors!)
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M42, the Orion Nebula
M31AndromedaGalaxy.jpg
Our galactic neighbor, M31, the Andromeda Galaxy