The director of the Rainwater Observatory in French Camp led a 45-minute presentation about the constellation Orion, and the participants then spent about an hour looking through multiple telescopes set up on the college’s Fulton campus.
“It is an opportunity for people to get outside in the evening and look up and see all of the things in our galaxy,” said ICC instructor Bob Swanson. “The sky is something people take for granted. It is fascinating to truly understand how stars move the way they do.”
The event was attended by students in Swanson’s astronomy class, as well as those in physical science and college life classes and others. About 150 people attended the presentation by Edwin Faughn, Rainwater’s director.
Faughn displayed photos of several images from powerful telescopes and spoke of the immensity of the night sky.
“We want to help bring an awareness of the beauty of the heavens and the vastness of the universe and also what people can see through their naked eye,” Faughn said. “It is exciting to see people’s reaction when they see Saturn’s rings or Jupiter’s moons for the first time.”
ICC sophomore Paul Kirk of Aberdeen did see Jupiter in a telescope for the first time. In the image, the colorful bands around the planet were visible, as were moons near it.
“It was amazing,” he said. “I didn’t think we’d see Jupiter so big. It was great to see the actual planet and the moons and how big it was.”