Astronomy is out of this world!

By Amy

This past December, I let my 3 year-old daughter stay up past her bedtime and took her outside to see the Geminids meteor shower for her first experience of star-gazing. I told her we were going to see the shooting stars. We bundled up and set up camp on our back porch. “Wow! Is that the moon? What’s that mommy?! Is those stars?” Though she was sometimes more enthralled by the airplanes passing in the night, she developed a love for the mystery of space. What is all that stuff up there?

Milky Way
The Milky Way galaxy is visible from Earth in the winter and summer.
(Copyright: Ben Canales)

Not all of us can be astronauts, but anyone can open a book and explore our vast, inky home vicariously. That knowledge can then be taken into our back yards, where we can tilt our heads back and behold the wonders of the universe.

The library is the perfect place to begin your journey into space. The Fontana Regional Library has a number of resources for fledgling astronomers, from star maps and guides to navigating the sky to the more complex science and theories of black holes, dark matter, and the beautiful, sometimes mysterious, wonders of the universe.

The large Whirlpool Galaxy
The large Whirlpool Galaxy
More advanced readers may enjoy the works of Stephen Hawking, an author and theoretical physicist who has made the physics of the universe accessible to the general public. Hawking’s latest book, The Grand Design, delves into cutting edge physics to attempt to answer such questions as “When and how did the universe begin?”, “Why are we here?” and many other philosophical and scientific questions about the existence of our universe.

You can also access NCLive through to search for magazines, e-books, videos, and more for information on astronomy and other topics of interest, right from home or in our computer labs!

At around sunset on June 5th, most of North America will be able to view the planet Venus pass in front of the Sun, an astrological event that will not take place again until the year 2117! The transit of Venus is viewable without the use of binoculars or telescopes. All one needs to see the shadow of Venus passing in front of the sun is a safe solar filter (Sky and Telescope Magazine has an article on viewing safety).

The Albert Carlton-Cashiers Community Library will be hosting a Transit of Venus viewing party Tuesday June 5:

We’ll be gathering in the field behind the library at 5:30pm to watch this last chance of our lifetimes celestial show. The transit begins shortly after 6pm and will last until sunset. Eye protection for direct solar viewing will be provided.

“Like” Fontana Regional Library on Facebook for up-to-date information.

The Astronomy Club of Asheville will also have solar safe telescopes set up for viewing the Venus transit. More information about the organization’s event can be found here.

2004 Venus Transit
The 2004 Venus transit
as seen from NASA’s Sun-observing TRACE spacecraft.

3 thoughts on “Astronomy is out of this world!

  1. Great first blog Amy. Isn’t it amazing to see things for the first time (again) through the eyes of a child? They seem to have a way to make you see things that you normally take for granted.
    I love looking at the night sky and watching for shooting stars is one of my favorites.


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