Astronomy Day offers daytime glimpse of stars

Charity Stroud, 3, left, Cassandra Zsidi,14, back left, and Christian Jones, 10, play a solar system game Saturday during Astronomy Day at Clovis-Carver Public Library. (CNJ staff photo: Eric Kluth)

By Marlena Hartz: CNJ staff writer

Some trickled in after browsing through stacks of books at the library; some thought of it as the perfect activity for a laid-back Saturday afternoon; some have turned the event — the Clovis Astronomy Club’s annual Astronomy Day — into a family ritual.

“We come every year. My daughters like to see the stars, and in the evening we come back to look through the telescopes,” said Lynn Schneiderman, one of the early attendees of the annual event at the Clovis-Carver Public Library.

The astronomy club set up telescopes in the library parking lot for nighttime viewing.

For members of the club, Astronomy Day is a chance to honor and share a long-standing passion for the solar system.

“When I was in grade school, I would lay down on the grass and look up at the stars,” said Carol Nash, secretary of the club.

Now, Nash and her counterparts, bring the excitement of the stars inside — with various props ranging from telescopes to a giant inflatable planetarium. The inflatable planetarium, constructed with black tarp, tape, and clothespins, drew many oohs and aahs from attendees, who escaped inside the flap to view constellations.

Wes Surber, president of the club, pointed out various constellations for planetarium visitors, using an red-bulbed flashlight to showcase projections of the Little Dipper and the star made famous by the movie “Contact,” Vega.

“If I get just a couple of people in here to ask a question, today will be a success,” said Surber. “You know everybody’s always just looking ahead, I want people to start looking up,” Surber added.

Members of the club said anytime is a good time to look at the stars.

“It depends on taste. Most people like warm weather, so summer is a good viewing time for them, but the best time is actually in the winter,” Surber said. Residents of Clovis, Surber said, are lucky to live in an excellent star-gazing spot.

The only viewing obstructions in Clovis, Nash said, come from dairy pollution and city lights, which both create a glare in the night sky.