Dr. Alex Shlanta Astronomical Observatory
Numerous "Star Parties" have been hosted by Dr. Alex Shlanta, former instructor, at the college observatory. Some of the groups for which Star Parties have been held include college faculty & staff, church youth groups, Boy and Girl Scout troupes, and Sierra Sands 3rd, 5th, and 6th graders. The 3rd grade class has an astronomy unit and the 5th grade class has a section on space science, with the 6th graders learning earth science. Each of these grades get to tour the astronomy facilities and learn more about space through hands on experience at the observatory.
During the Star Parties several members from the China Lake Astronomical Society have donated their time to assist Dr. Shlanta by manning telescope stations for viewing celestial objects. These astronomers also demonstrate telescope use and are on hand to answer questions from party goers. These telescopes have been aligned to astronomical bodies of high interest, such as the Andromeda and Whirlpool galaxies, Orion and Lagoon nebulas, and the planets Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. Participants also learn some basics about the local night sky and how to identify several of the common constellations in the area.
We are hoping to continue this tradition and host additional star parties with some of our other science faculty and astronomy adjuncts.