MONTGOMERY - Local families can experience the W.A. Gayle Planetarium's new digital projection system and take a closer look at the night sky during the annual Astronomy Day celebration on Saturday, April 25.
The event is held in partnership with the Auburn Astronomical Society and is designed to introduce families to the fun of astronomy.
This is a "rain or shine" event, and admission is free and open to the public. Visitors are encouraged to bring their own telescopes or binoculars as well.
Starting at 5 p.m., members of the Auburn Astronomical Society will conduct a "Telescope Clinic" in which guests can bring malfunctioning or disassembled telescopes for repair. Early visitors will also be able to view the moon and sun through PST solar scopes.
At 5:30 p.m., guest presenter Ethel Boykin of the Montgomery Botanical Gardens will give an overview of the plans for the botanical gardens in Oak Park.
At 6 p.m., Dr. Michael Sterner and Dr. Michael Patton of the University of Montevallo will discuss their work at the James Wylie Shepherd Observatory. Located 3 miles from Montevallo's campus at the university's 150-acre Gentry Springs property, the JWSO features a state-of-the-art 20-inch PlaneWave CDK20 telescope on a Chronos HD32 Harmonic Mount. The remote location provides ideal dark skies, far removed from city lights, and offers spectacular views of any part of the night sky.
At 7 p.m., Planetarium Director Rick Evans will take visitors on a "Tour of the Night Sky" using the planetarium's new full-dome digital projection system. In addition to a tour of the solar system, visitors will view two planetarium programs, "Losing the Dark" and "Two Pieces of Glass."
After sunset, visitors will step outside for a telescopic viewing of the night sky led by the Auburn Astronomical Society with a chance to observe Jupiter, Venus and the moon.
The W.A. Gayle Planetarium is located in Oak Park, across from Jackson Hospital and is operated by Troy University for the City of Montgomery. Opened in 1969, it is one of the largest planetariums between Atlanta and New Orleans.
For more information, call (334) 625-4799, or visit the W.A. Gayle Planetarium on Facebook.