Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Summer Solstice Stargazing

-from the Head Curator

Last night 160 adults and kids braved the longest day of the year- which also happened to be the hottest day of the year (so far!)- to come out for a Summer Solstice Stargazing Party.

Nancy Rood and Bill Pape getting ready to watch a full moon rise
Michael Connolly Miskwish of Campo was kind enough to come down and gave a talk on Kumeyaay cosmology, explaining the importance of the night sky to the Kumeyaay peoples.  The talk was based on research he's been doing for years and has just published as a new book: Maay Uuyow, Kumeyaay Cosmology.  The main focus of the night was the full moon.  Before everyone went out to watch the full moon rise Connolly explained that while Europeans see the Man in the Moon during a full moon, many cultures across Asia, South America and North America see a rabbit.  The Kumeyaay see a cottontail rabbit.
Telescopes watched the moon, Mars, Venus, & Saturn

Naturally this meant that the big challenge of the night was to see if everyone could see the rabbit in the moon!  "I think everyone I helped said that they saw the rabbit" said Marcie Rodriguez, IVDM Education Coordinator.  "The kids were especially excited when they found it and would call their parents over to show them."

Mars, Saturn, and Venus were also visible last night, despite some clouds.  6 telescopes from the museum and Mike and Nancy Rood- who headed our telescopes last night- were available for people to view and many others brought their own telescopes out and let others use them.  Anthony Adams from Imperial and his daughter were among the visitors last night: "We had a wonderful time, it was very informative. The comradery of the people that shared their telescopes and phone applications was incredible. I was able to do some stargazing through several different telescopes. The only complaint that I have with the evening is how much money this is going to cost me to buy a comparable scope that I liked."
Several visitors brought their own scopes & shared the night sky views
Maybe you'll have found one you like in time to bring it out to our next Stargazing Party Anthony! 

Raffles were held throughout the evening and two telescopes were among the prizes.  It sounds like we've got some more astronomers in the making after this event!
Shaahuk games played by those taking air conditioning breaks
Also inside the museum, many visitors were seeing the permanent exhibit for the first time.  Most of the younger star gazers took air conditioning breaks and played Shaahuk, a traditional Kumeyaay game based on traveling the spine of the Milky Way.  There was intense action on the game board all night and games ranged from friendly family fun to cut throat competition.  "This is like Monopoly" one player said. "You're going to have to be willing to lose friends to win." 

Special thanks to Rogers & Rogers for sponsoring the event, Lidia Walker for hosting the event and providing raffle prizes, Mike and Nancy Rood for heading up our telescopes, and our wonderful staff and volunteers for all their hard work!

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