Constellations and conversations at library

Published 8:42 pm Saturday, February 18, 2017

Local stargazers will have an opportunity this week to talk with NASA representatives and enjoy the night sky through high-powered lenses.

The Carrollton Branch of the Blackwater Regional Library has teamed with NASA Solar System Ambassadors program for its Winter Sky event this Tuesday. The event will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Carrollton Branch library location at 14362 New Towne Haven Lane.

NASA Solar System Ambassador volunteer Angela Gibson will be in attendance to get people excited about what is visible this time of year in the night sky.

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“She’s been one of our library patrons for years. Her son has been coming here,” Carrollton Branch Manager Shannon Conroy said.  “We will generally nerd out about space when we run into each other at the library.”

Solar System Ambassadors is a public outreach program that communicates the excitement of NASA’s space exploration missions and information about recent discoveries to people in their local communities.

Other speakers will be from the NASA Langley Research Center and the Back Bay Amateur Astronomers, a non-profit organization based on a shared interest in observational astronomy.

“We will have iPads available with specialized apps so visitors can play with programs that are available on tablets and phones,” Senior Carrollton Assistant Nicole Piland said.

After the sun sets, the discussion will move outside, where telescopes provided by Back Bay Amateur Astronomers will be available for visitors. Popular winter constellations will be visible if the weather permits, and hot beverages will be available.

“A beautiful winter night sky that will include a view of Mars and Venus, the constellation Cassiopeia, and if we’re lucky we’ll see the Pleiades cluster, a cluster of stars that tend to be more visible during winter sky nights,” Solar System Ambassador Angela Gibson said.

“It’s like if you threw a bunch of diamonds on a floor of black carpet. It’s a really pretty cluster,” Gibson said.”

People are encouraged to bring their own telescopes if they want, and the library is looking forward to a great turnout.

“If you are a space enthusiast, if you enjoy learning new things about the cosmos around you. If you want to get more excited about celestial objects, come out,” Conroy said. “We will have tools to experience the universe more closely than you would have in your own home.”