Star gazing event draws local astronomers

DOWNEY - Both local and out-of-town astronomy enthusiasts gathered at the Columbia Memorial Space Center last Friday for its second star gazing party of the summer.Thanks to the effort of volunteers, a variety of telescopes were available to get a close-up view of the moon, Saturn, the Big Dipper, and many other objects in outer space. "I made contact with local astronomy clubs and asked if they'd like to join our star gazing parties. All workers are volunteers from the Los Angeles Astronomical Society as well as local residents from the city of Downey," said space center manager Christie Pearce. John Unkovich, one of the local residents at the event, shared his passion for astronomy with both young and old visitors with one of the telescopes from his own collection. The space center allows enthusiasts like him to share their wealth of knowledge to the community in an environment that does not require textbooks in order to learn. "There's a difference in being able to enjoy the sky and learning about astronomy in a classroom," said Unkovich. For the regular admission price of $5, visitors also had access to the exhibits within the space center. The Lego robotics lab, airplane launcher and several other exhibits provided further learning opportunities through interactive participation. These exhibits are made possible by the assistance of supporters like Jared Head, who was deemed the 2009 Volunteer of the Year and now works as an employee. Head stated that his interest in astronomy simply came about from "just being a kid." Today's kids are fortunate to have access to the space center's resources that foster an appreciation for astronomy as well as other fields involving math and science. Through more star gazing parties and other events in the near future, the Columbia Memorial Space Center will continue to serve as a major attraction for its unique qualities that cannot be found anywhere else in the area.

********** Published: August 18, 2011 - Volume 10 - Issue 18