This week we starting studying (rowing) the book, Follow The Drinking Gourd. The drinking gourd is the Big Dipper. The book is about the Underground Railroad and how the slaves were taught to follow the Big Dipper in the sky to flee north to safety.
For the science part of the book, we are studying the stars and space. We’ve read a few books on stars, space, planets and constellations. And I spent some time researching the local observatory at the community college nearby. I’d seen advertisements for it but I’ve never heard much about otherwise.
I found out that the EFSC Planetarium and Observatory is free to the public and is open on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday nights from dusk to 10:30. They also offer sky shows, movies and laser shows on these days, too.
H and I took a trip to check out the telescope at the observatory tonight.
I had a bit of trouble finding the location at first. I knew where the college was but the planetarium is on the other side of the campus across a lake so we had to take the side street back until we found the planetarium sign. I expected to be quite dead inside but there were a number of people there.
We looked around the lobby at the few space exhibits.
We also looked inside the gift shop for a little bit. Then we went upstairs to the observatory. I wanted to take pictures but it was too dark for them to come out. The top level has a roof to walk on and then a small tower to climb up (only a few stairs) to the observatory where the telescope is. Inside the room there were a few other people and a number of other people joined us after we got there. It was a little disappointing to have to wait in line to look through the telescope each time. Another annoying thing was the Mosquitos! I didn’t expect being eaten alive inside a room! Next time I will bring bug spray!
H’s favorite was when they moved the telescope and entire roof around to other parts of the sky! Here’s a shot of the opening in the roof (from outside) the observatory. The opening is the hatch to the right that is sideways.
I tried to get her to look into the telescope to see the moon but she got nervous using the ladder to reach the viewer. I don’t think she even really got to see the moon. She definitely missed out! It was neat to see the surface of the moon so magnified. The volunteer there was even pointing out a mountain inside of one of the craters. The magnification was 1700 miles above the moon’s surface.
They tried to show us Venus but the cloud cover was too thick. So the next thing they showed us was a double star. The stars are so close to each other and so far from earth (17 light years away) that it just looked like one bright light. The one star is 1,000 times bigger than our sun! It’s unbelievable the size of stars and all the galaxies out there! God is truly an amazing creator and much bigger and more powerful the I can wrap my mind around.
Those two things were all I got to see with the telescope because H was getting impatient and the Mosquitos were biting so much. It was neat to see the huge telescope. It’s 1500 pounds and the biggest one open to the public in the state of Florida. It was also cool to see the computers they use to move and program the telescope and all the constellations that were on the screen.
After we left the observatory room, we walked a little bit on the patio/rooftop and looked at the moon, stars and the heat lightning in the distance.
Then we went back to the ground floor and looked at the small exhibits for a few minutes. I’m looking forward to taking her to the sky show next week to see the “Amazing Universe” show. I was tempted to take her to the laser light show tonight but it didn’t start until 9 pm and it would be another $13 between both of us. So we’ll just have to wait for next week. I’m looking forward to checking out the facilities in the daylight this time.
And of course we had to end our mommy daughter date with a little treat!