Dr. Alex Shlanta Astronomical Observatory
A crowd of over 500 guests gathered to enjoy the festivities at the Star Party and BBQ.
Alex Shlanta addresses the band.
Mayor Chip Holloway serves as BBQ Chef while Dr. Retterer, Interim Vice President of CCCC looks on.
Yesterdaze rocks the night along with folk music from the 60's and 70's.
Star Party Guests enjoy a host of sights through a variety of telescopes, both in and outside of the domes.
The moon shines brightly in the perfectly clear sky. The lights from the college give soft illumination to the domes, while red flashlights help visitors navigate the observatory compound.
Astronomical BBQ & Star Party
October 30, 2006
by Alex Shlanta
Cerro Coso Community College (CCCC) and the Cerro Coso Community College Foundation teamed up to sponsor the first ever Astronomical Barbecue & Star Party. This was held at Cerro Coso Community College on 27 October 2006 as a fundraiser for the Observatory at the College. Supporting this event were Cerro Coso College Faculty, Staff, and Students. Members of the Ridgecrest City Council and the China Lake Astronomical Society assisted as well. The barbecue dinner was held from 5:30 to 7:00 pm on the College Library's front lawn. The Star Party that began at 7:00 pm followed this. About 450 – 500 people attended the event and all had a fun time.
The chefs for the BBQ were Mayor Chip Holloway, Vice Mayor Dan Clark, and Rich Retterer, husband of the CCCC President Dr. Mary Retterrer. Chancellor of the Kern College District Dr. Sharon Serrano attended the event as well. The CCCC Band under the able direction of Dr. Tom Foggia provided musical entertainment during the dinner. The band played selections that were a preview of the Band's upcoming 9 November Fall Concert. This was followed by folk music for the 60's and 70's performed by Yesterdaze, a popular local musical group with Cerro Coso's own Dr. John Stenger-Smith. A raffle of about 20 prizes was held as well.
For the Star Party there were two venues running in parallel, an astronomical slide show and viewing through telescopes at the Observatory. Successive 30 minute slide presentations "Exploring the Night Sky" were given by Peter Eiserloh in Room 604 of the Library at the College. This presentation was an Introductory Overview of the Universe. The presentation started with the Sun and worked through the Solar System. The presentation then moved on to deep space covering our galaxy and external galaxies.
The Cerro Coso College bus provided transportation from the dining area to the Astronomical Observatory. Solar lights for those who wished to walk to the Observatory lighted the route. When people arrived at the observatory Dr. Shlanta using a green laser pointer gave them a tour of important constellations and stars in the fall night sky. Then the people went inside the observatory compound where twelve stations were waiting for them set up with telescopes to view the various celestial wonders in our fall night sky. Manning the telescopes and explaining the celestial views were China Lake Astronomical Society members Jay Chun, Calvin Clayson, Scott Fuller, Dick Johnson, Kiran Mehra, Chuck Morgan, Ken Pringle, Jerry Ott, and Bill Weiss with telescopes ranging in size from from 10" diameter to 14" diameter. Also assisting at stations at the observatory were Richard L'Hommedieu, Jim Morford, and Terry and Greg Mussinger.
For the astronomical viewing there was the special sight of Comet C/2006 M4 (SWAN). This comet came from outside our solar system. Viewed also were a crescent to quarter phase waxing Moon, M31 the famous Andromeda galaxy, the blue and gold binary stars Albireo, M13 the million star Great Hercules globular cluster outside the plane of our galaxy, M57 the ring planetary nebula, M27 the dumbbell nebula the brightest planetary nebula, the Perseus Double Cluster NGC 869 & NGC 884, and M45 the large Pleiades open cluster.