By Kay Whatley, Editor
Looking through a telescope, searching for constellations, and seeking other planets can be a source of amazement for humans of all ages. Evenings when my husband set-up his telescope in the backyard, and we all gathered around as he found objects for us to view, are powerful memories for us. They taught the children that there was more to the sky than the moon and sun.
On April 20-21, 2018, the Statewide Star Party invites people across North Carolina to step outside and look up, with dozens of special events for those interested in going beyond their backyard.
The sixth-annual Statewide Star Party offers a chance to explore with expert help and fun activities. Host locations from mountains to coast provide opportunities, event leaders, and equipment access, to ensure time skywatching during the Statewide Star Party will be not just educational, but fun too.
This year’s Statewide Star Party theme is Anyone Out There? Statewide Star Party locations include:
Imperial Centre for the Arts and Sciences (Rocky Mount NC) — April 20, 2018 @ 8-10pm — Join the fun on the lawn at Imperial Centre, 270 Gay Street, Rocky Mount NC. View and learn about the stars. With questions, call Brittany H. at 252.442.1951 x.257 or email.
A Time for Science (Grifton NC) — April 21, 2018 @ 5-10pm — $5 per person — Activities include planetarium shows, games, and outdoor adventures on their 400 acre location, 729 Dickinson Avenue, Grifton NC. Stargazing will be free and begins at 8:30pm. Don’t miss your chance to peer through the 16″ telescope in the Joyner Observatory. A Time for Science is on Facebook here. Contact 252.364.6569 or email.
White Deer Park (Garner NC) — April 21, 2018 @ 10pm-until — White Deer Park is on the next day Location: White Deer Park is hosting a Statewide Star Party and Camp-out event. There will be hands-on activities, crafts, story time, and the Raleigh Astronomy Club sharing their expertise and telescopes. Activities are free and open to the public; however, for those planning to stay and camp-out (optional), there is a $12 fee for residents or $16 for non-residents. Registration may be done via this ActiveCommunities link, by Garner Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources.
A complete list of host locations may be found at www.ncsciencefestival.org/starparty. In addition to the locations list, that page provides access to educational materials that may be downloaded/printed. Get materials in advance for use at home, in a classroom, or during the Statewide Star Party.
The Statewide Star Party is part of the 2018 North Carolina Science Festival, organized by the Morehead Planetarium and Science Center. In prior years, the North Carolina Science Festival spanned a two-week period in April. For 2018, the festival’s eighth year, activities were expanded to cover the entire month of April.
The 2018 North Carolina Science Festival’s activities go far beyond skywatching. Events include testing gravity with downhill race cars (Lenoir NC), or the archaeology and physics of Blackbeard’s ship (coast), with a wide variety of science lessons offered. Check out festival events, starting with a search by topic, location, or other choice, at www.ncsciencefestival.org/find-events.