Star Light, Star Bright

Head to Moundville for Public Nights

The astronomy group in the Department of Physics and Astronomy kicks off the monthly Public Nights series this Friday, September 26, from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. at Moundville Archaeological Park, where they will set up telescopes for the public to view the night sky.

Each Public Night focuses on different parts of the universe. The first event will focus on seeing clusters of stars and nebulae. A 20-inch Dobsonian telescope and a 10-inch telescope will be set up in the field across from the museum. The Dobsonian telescope is seven feet tall with six feet of ladder leading to its eyepiece.

“People will enjoy it because the telescope gives such a great view,” said Ronald Buta, professor of astronomy. “It’s interesting, it’s fun. It allows people to be in touch with the natural world because the night sky is one of the most beautiful things anyone can see.”

Buta and Bill Keel, professor of astronomy, will lead this Public Night. Each participant will get a chance to look into the eyepieces of the telescopes, and rotate around as the professors find different stars to look at.

Keel said his favorite part is when someone who has never seen the depths of the universe peers into the eyepiece and gasps at the wonders of space for the first time.

“People can go through years where the only thing they see that aren’t made by people or shaped by people would be the sun and the moon,” Keel said. “You get out here and just get reminded that the Earth is a tiny part of the universe and just the richness of our surroundings.”

This event is free, family friendly, and accessible for people with disabilities.

The Public Night will be canceled if the sky is not clear by the planned time and will not be rescheduled. The next Public Night will be held at Moundville on Oct. 24. To stay up to date on whether the event will be canceled and to see a full calendar of all the events, go to the astronomy program website.