Far from the city lights, Camp Casey Conference Center is an ideal location for some serious stargazing. Guests who want to know a little more about what they are looking at can call upon the Island County Astronomical Society to help them gain an education in all things Astronomical. The Society holds monthly star parties, lectures and demonstrations for people of all ages and abilities in Island County.
“We can do question and answer or an actual lecture. We hold star parties once a month. We bring our own telescopes out and let people look through them,” Dan Pullen, retired Navy Electrician and founding member of the Island County Astronomical Society said. “Tonight we’ll be able to look at Jupiter, the Orion Nebula and it’s possible we’ll see a supernova explosion!”
The supernova explosion is an exciting event for Pullen, who has only ever seen one other supernova in his lifetime. “It’s probably a white dwarf star that gathered too much material and blew up,” he explained. “I’ve seen a meteor broken into six different pieces. I’ve seen a solar eclipse, a lunar eclipse; I’ve seen sunspots. I have a special telescope that allows me to look at the sun.”
Most of the basic demonstrations offered by the Society start with helping people understand the magnitude of the universe.
“If I told you that the solar system is one light year in diameter, that wouldn’t mean much to you until I tell you the earth is eight minutes from the sun. The solar system suddenly has a perspective. The nearest star to our sun is 4.5 light years away, and each light year is six trillion miles,” Pullen explained.
“We do similar things with kids and adults, we just use bigger words when we’re talking with adults,” Pullen said. “We let the kids be part of the display and we spread them out across the classroom, so they can see just how much space there is in space. We will have the kids figure out how far apart the planets are and try and fit it into a classroom, but it doesn’t fit the solar system very easily. Our scale actually fits into a 2-mile circle. If you have a one-meter sun, Pluto would be the size of the head of pin and two miles away.”
Camp Casey can help your group schedule a lecture or demonstration at the Conference Center, or you can log on to http://icas-wa.webs.com for more information about the Society.