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Moon over West: Astronomy open house set for April 14

March 07, 2011

The Sonoran Desert sky is the stage and its heavenly bodies the stars, as the annual Astronomy Open House returns to Arizona State University’s West campus April 14. Hosted by New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences faculty member Paul Schimdtke, the star-gazing event begins at 7:30 p.m. along the bike path south of Parking Lot 13 and immediately north of the Central Plant on the west side of campus.

“We’ve been hosting this event at the West campus at least once each semester since 1997,” said Schmidtke, an astronomer with professional interests in the area of double-star astronomy. “For many who join us, it is the first chance they have had to explore the sky through the lens of a telescope.”

The April event is free to the community, and telescopes will be provided by Schmidtke and members of the Phoenix Astronomical Society, which is once again supporting the activities.

Schmidtke says the emphasis on April 14 will be Saturn and the moon. But double stars, star clusters and a variety of nebulae will also be visible.

“Depending on sky conditions, there are a number of intriguing sights in the April sky that we expect to be able to see,” he said.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for community members to come to the West campus and peek through a telescope at what this desert sky has to offer,” said Schmidtke, who teaches general studies astronomy classes at the West campus. “People are so fascinated with the heavens because observing the sky is one activity that binds everyone together. Some people simply appreciate the beauty, while others want to know the details of how things work.”