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Fun event in Pensacola brings out the stargazers

Mar 17, 2014

Fun event in Pensacola brings out the stargazers

Over 75 students, staff, family members and friends enjoyed a peek into the night sky—not to mention campus tours, a cookout and other activities—thanks to instructor Ray Hayes, staffer Linda Hooper, student David Cochran and others at Virginia College in Pensacola.

Mr. Hayes, a member of the Amateur Astronomers Club, set up two telescopes on a recent afternoon to view, with proper filtration, various sunspots. As darkness fell, mysteries of the night sky were in view for the visitors, including the moon, Jupiter, and its moons.

Fun event in Pensacola brings out the stargazers

Mr. Hayes elaborates. "The real activity started at break times when crowds formed as teachers brought whole classes! It got so busy that we lost count. Our guestimate is around 75 for the evening, but it could have been more. One exciting thing was that some students who did not have class on Monday night brought their kids. Linda, David, and I stayed really busy answering questions. It was really fun showing them the sky. Students were fascinated to see the moons of Jupiter and it's cloud belts. Some had even used their smartphones to make photos of the moon. Toward the end of the evening, I was able to show the Orion Nebula with my four-inch refractor. This is a giant gas cloud where new stars are born. It was amazing we could see it with all the light in the parking lot."