Highland Road Park Observatory

Calendar of Events 2016 - December

Friday, 2 December

7:30 pm to 8:30 pm: Buying Your First Telescope Please don’t buy a scope (especially as a gift for another) without doing some research first. Whether a scope is a good first telescope for someone depends on that person’s age and what he or she will tend to view most (the Moon and planets, or star clusters and nebulae). In almost every situation, a good scope will have to be mail-ordered. HRPO’s annual discussion of this issue increases the patron’s chance of getting the best deal for the money, and increases the chance of the gift being used on a regular basis. BRAS member Merrill Hess will be the presenter. Merrill is very knowledgeable about this subject, having owned several pieces of equipment over the years and having helped discover five asteroids with LSU’s 20OGS telescope at HRPO. [No admission fee. For ages fourteen and older.]
8:30 pm to 10:00 pm: Evening Sky Viewing Weather permitting, viewing through one or more telescopes will take place. During this time the waxing crescent Moon will be below the horizon. Please keep headlights off while parking and leaving, and drive slowly! [No admission fee. For all ages.]

Saturday, 3 December

10:00 am to 12:00 pm: Uranus♅ and Neptune♆ The outermost gas giants—one with an extreme tilt, the other with the strongest wind gusts in the Solar System—will receive an investigations from the Cadets. [For ages eight to twelve. $5.00 per in-parish Cadet; $6.00 per out-of-parish Cadet.]
7:30 pm to 10:00 pm: Evening Sky Viewing Weather permitting, viewing through one or more telescopes will take place. During this time the waxing crescent Moon will be 19% illuminated at a maximum altitude of 15°. Please keep headlights off while parking and leaving, and drive slowly! [No admission fee. For all ages.]

Friday, 9 December

7:30 pm to 8:30 pm: The Star of Bethlehem This season reminds us of the famous story from Christian Scripture about the Magi being spurred by the sight of the Star of Bethlehem to take a trip and visit a newborn. However, what was the Star? Scripture gives little description, only scant clues. What exactly occurred in the Middle East 2000 years ago? Can modern scientific calculations shed light on the puzzle? LSU physics professor Brad Schaefer will use current theory to take the audience step-by-step toward the solution to the mystery. If you’ve never experienced this lecture before, don’t miss out. This is Professor Schaefer’s thirteenth consecutive year bringing this incredible presentation to HRPO patrons. During his career he has published in “Sky & Telescope” magazine, discovered a long-lost ancient atlas, appeared on a National Geographic program and earned an invitation to the Nobel Physics Prize ceremony! [No admission fee. For ages fourteen and older.]
8:30 pm to 10:00 pm: Evening Sky Viewing Weather permitting, viewing through one or more telescopes will take place. During this time the waxing gibbous Moon will be 79% illuminated at a maximum altitude of 65°. Please keep headlights off while parking and leaving, and drive slowly! [No admission fee. For all ages.]

Saturday, 10 December

10:00 am to 12:00 pm: Venus♀ Venus♀ has no lakes or rivers or oceans…in fact its surface is hot enough to melt lead. Cadets will parachute into this inhospitable environment! [For ages eight to twelve. $5.00 per in-parish Cadet; $6.00 per out-of-parish Cadet.]
12:00 pm to 2:00 pm: Solar Viewing Weather permitting, safe viewing of the Sun☉ in three different manners will occur. During this time the Sun☉ will be in the constellation Ophiuchus at a maximum altitude of 37°. [No admission fee. For all ages. Solar viewers available for $2.00; limit four per adult purchaser.]
4:30 pm to 6:00 pm: Venus♀ Viewing (first attempt) Since Mercury☿ and Venus♀ are closer to the Sun☉ than Earth♁, HRPO must open earlier to catch these elusive planets. Weather permitting, we will attempt to view Venus♀ with low and high magnification. What phase will it be? [No admission fee. For all ages.]
7:30 pm to 10:00 pm: Evening Sky Viewing Weather permitting, viewing through one or more telescopes will take place. During this time the waxing gibbous Moon will be 88% illuminated at a maximum altitude of 70°. Please keep headlights off while parking and leaving, and drive slowly! [No admission fee. For all ages.]

Tuesday, 13 December

9:00 pm to 1:00 am: Geminid Meteor Shower The Geminid meteors, in addition to being part of one of the most reliable showers of the year, are quite intriguing. The first Geminids were noticed in the 1860s. Astronomers searched for the comet which left behind the debris field responsible for the Geminids. In the 1980s, after over a century of searching, scientists pinpointed an asteroid now known as Phaethon as the originator of the debris. Any meteors that are part of this shower seem to radiate from a point in the sky near the star Castor, in the constellation Gemini♊. For this one night HRPO will be open for four hours, during which time members of the public are welcome. Due to the light pollution problem here in East Baton Rouge Parish, it is feasible to attempt viewing of this major shower only during its peak time. [No admission fee. For all ages.]

Friday, 16 December

7:30 pm to 8:30 pm: Skygazing Binoculars Unlike a telescope, a good binocular for nighttime sky viewing can be gotten at a variety of retailers in town. Whether gift-hunting or searching for oneself, acquiring the right binocular will yield a plethora of celestial beauty. The Earth♁’s Moon alone has at least two dozen features easily accessible with a good binocular. Come learn the ins-and-outs of acquiring a handheld device that will work every time! [No admission fee. For ages fourteen and older.]
8:30 pm to 10:00 pm: Evening Sky Viewing Weather permitting, viewing through one or more telescopes will take place. During this time the waning gibbous Moon will be 87% illuminated at a maximum altitude of 19°. Please keep headlights off while parking and leaving, and drive slowly! [No admission fee. For all ages.]

Saturday, 17 December

10:00 am to 12:00 pm: Surveying the Earth How does the water cycle make life possible here? What current volcanic activity is there, or iceberg formation? Cadets will encounter all these facets of our home planet. [For ages eight to twelve. $5.00 per in-parish Cadet; $6.00 per out-of-parish Cadet.]
4:45 pm to 6:15 pm: Venus♀ Viewing (second attempt) Since Mercury☿ and Venus♀ are closer to the Sun☉ than Earth♁, HRPO must open earlier to catch these elusive planets. Weather permitting, we will attempt to view Venus♀ with low and high magnification. What phase will it be? [No admission fee. For all ages.]
7:30 pm to 10:00 pm: Evening Sky Viewing Weather permitting, viewing through one or more telescopes will take place. During this time the waxing crescent Moon will be 19% illuminated at a maximum altitude of 15°. Please keep headlights off while parking and leaving, and drive slowly! [No admission fee. For all ages.]

Friday, 23 December

6:45 pm to 8:45 pm: GLOBE at Night Training Session HRPO and its partners are fighting the good fight, attempting to eradicate light pollution in the area so B.R.A.S. astrophotography, LSU research on exotic objects such as Tabby’s Star, and BREC’s public viewing offerings can all be the best they can be. During this session patrons will learn the location and layout of the constellation Perseus, and how to report their findings from home to the GLOBE at Night website! [No admission fee. For ages eight and older.]

Wednesday, 28 December and Thursday, 29 December

8:00 am to 5:00 pm: Winter Rocket Camp The rocket this go-round will be the ever-thrilling two-stage Mongoose! [For ages nine to thirteen. $55.00 per in-parish Rocketeer; $66.00 per out-of-parish Rocketeer.]

Friday, 30 December

6:00 pm to 10:00 pm: 2017 Preview Party Our twentieth year is soon upon us, and the three partners in the venture (BREC, LSU, BRAS) are working to make it the best calendar year of public offerings in the facility’s history! Physical science demos and sky tours populate this party showcasing all the excellent programs of 2017. [No admission fee (but $1.00 to $3.00 per person toward the Donation Drive would be appreciated). For all ages. Drinks and refreshments.]

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Updated by Frederick J. Barnett on Monday, December 5, 2016, 11:06 AM.