Star Parties Return to CCBC Dundalk Observatory
Invited to Now Handicap Accessible Facility
Baltimore County, Md. -- Calling all sky-watchers and stargazers!
The Community College of Baltimore County (CCBC) Dundalk Campus
Observatory, located at 7200 Sollers Point Road, is now fully handicap
accessible, and the winter/spring star party schedule is in full swing.
Now everyone can enjoy the free, sparkling presentation put on by the
stars, planets and other heavenly bodies.
Star parties are public events that offer participants the opportunity
to bring their own telescopes or make use of the facility’s equipment.
Some star gazers engage in “naked-eye astronomy,” identifying stars and
constellations sans a telescope. Others make use of the observatory’s
Meade 16-inch LX200 Schmidt-Cassegrain reflecting telescope to get a
more up-close and personal view.
During the month of March, onlookers will seek out Mars and Saturn.
Parties will be held on March 3 and March 17, from 7 to 9 p.m. Only the
first quarter moon will be visible during March's first sighting, but
some other phases will be visible later in the month. On April 21,
gazers will set their sights on Jupiter and the International Space
Station from 9 to 11 p.m. And additional viewing opportunities are
scheduled for May 5 and May 19, from 9-11 p.m.
While the star parties have been regular events at the observatory for
years, gaining access to the structure has been a challenge for anyone
using a wheelchair. Now, due to the diligence of a class of engineering
students who applied their skills to a real-life challenge and developed
a solution, the observatory has a ramp.
According to John Walker, an assistant professor and program coordinator
for CCBC’s engineering program, during the 2005 fall semester, a class
took on the project and developed two ramps. Both ramps will be used to
determine which one works best and if any modifications are required.
Walker says, "The project gave the engineering students an opportunity
to work in a real-world situation and solve a real-world problem."
With the new ramps in place, star gazing just got easier. No one could
be more appreciative of the added feature than David Ludwikoski, the
science department assistant professor who runs the observatory. He says
his experiences with his mother, who spent her last 10 years in a wheel
chair, made the idea very personal to him. Ludwikoski is hopeful that
the improvement will increase participation at the star parties.
He advises prospective attendees to watch the weather on star party
nights. If conditions look potentially cloudy, rainy or snowy, please
check for cancellations by calling the CCBC Dundalk Campus Safety
Department at 443-840-3200 approximately 45 minutes before the scheduled
start time. If cancelled, star parties will be rescheduled for the
following evening at the same time.
For additional information about star parties and the full 2006
spring/winter schedule, visit
http://www.ccbcmd.edu/catonsvilleplanetarium/index.html or call Mr.
Ludwikoski at 443-840-4216.