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Archive for Sunday, April 29, 2001

Astronomy day event culls interest from downtown visitors

April 29, 2001

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Sunny skies and warm temperatures Saturday attracted Lawrence residents to Massachusetts Street for shopping, entertainment and astronomy.

To celebrate National Astronomy Day, Lawrence resident Torry Crass was on hand at Ninth and Massachusetts streets with two telescopes.

Tim Ivy looks to the heavens with the aid of a filtered telescope
during National Astronomy Day activities. Torry Crass, left, set up
the telescope which filters out 99 percent of the sun's harmful
rays that can damage eyesight Saturday in downtown Lawrence. Crass
and and Reid Nelson, center, are members of Astronomy Associates of
Lawrence, 1082 Malott Hall.

Tim Ivy looks to the heavens with the aid of a filtered telescope during National Astronomy Day activities. Torry Crass, left, set up the telescope which filters out 99 percent of the sun's harmful rays that can damage eyesight Saturday in downtown Lawrence. Crass and and Reid Nelson, center, are members of Astronomy Associates of Lawrence, 1082 Malott Hall.

As people approached the corner, Crass invited them to look into either telescope for a peak at between 15 and 20 sunspots. At first glance, several people said it appeared to be a dirty lens, but Crass said those "pieces of dirt" were critical predictors of weather patterns.

"The sunspots cause more material to be ejected causing erratic weather patterns something people can see all over the country," Crass said.

Astronomy Associates of Lawrence coordinated the event, which drew about 200 people. Crass said the group generally sponsors events in Downtown Lawrence so the community can learn about eclipses and other solar events.

Lawrence residents Scott McKenzie and Maggie Koerth stopped by the corner for a peak at the sunspots. Koerth said she was glad to see the community involvement.

"I think it's neat that they give people a chance to see things like this that we couldn't view otherwise," Koerth said.

Sunspot watching began at 10 a.m. and lasted throughout the day. The group then relocated to Clinton Park at 8:30 p.m. for a star-watching party.

Crass said he expected to have more events for next year's National Astronomy Day.

"We hope to plan even more community involvement," Crass said. "We want to have people lined up all down Mass. Street to show just how far apart the planets are."

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