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Thursday, October 06, 2022

Florida Museum hosts night of astronomy, stargazing

Under a pitch black sky, Maureen Malles put her eye to a telescope and saw the moon’s craters in new detail.

More than 2,000 people observed the sky through professional-quality telescopes during the annual Starry Night event at the Florida Museum of Natural History, located at 3215 Hull Road, on Friday at 6 p.m.

The event organizer, Chelsea Collison, set up the free event with the UF Astronomy department, the Alachua Astronomy Club, the Santa Fe College Astronomy Program and the Kika Silva Pla Planetarium.

“It’s an event for everyone,” Collison said. “I think everyone can enjoy looking through the telescope and seeing the moon and planets.”

The event has been going on for about 10 years, Collison said.

Participants were given a passport to the universe, where they could collect eight stamps throughout the night for a prize. The prizes included space-themed stickers, posters and magnets.

Stamps could be collected from any of the 22 activity tables located inside and outside the museum. All of the activity tables were educational and space-themed. The tables included Ask an Astronomer, Cosmic Time Tunnel, Telescope Clinics and the Starlab Planetarium Show.

The event also featured NASA astrophysicist Amy Mainzer, who gave presentations for children and adults throughout the evening.

Collison said to prepare for the event, organizers placed the telescopes behind the building where the sky would be least obstructed.

“We moved all of the telescopes this year so they have more darkness, and that’s been a big plus,” Collison said.

Malles, a UF law student, said she attended the event after hearing about it from her friends. She was fascinated by a recording of noise from space, which all participants could listen to.

“There were guys transmitting noise from space,” the 26-year-old said. “I didn’t understand any of it, but it was interesting.”

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