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Jefferson College plans to 'Aim for the Stars'

Jefferson College plans to 'Aim for the Stars'

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Jefferson College plans to 'Aim for the Stars'

There is no cost to participate in any of the monthly educational programs, led by Jefferson College faculty and SLAS members.

In connection with the partnership between Jefferson College and the St. Louis Astronomical Society (SLAS) to develop an observatory on the Hillsboro campus, the college will host several informational “Aim for the Stars” observation nights throughout 2021 for those who want to learn more about astronomy.

There is no cost to participate in any of the monthly educational programs, led by Jefferson College faculty and SLAS members.

As the first phase of site development begins, the observatory location is being used by the college as a teaching and learning opportunity for students enrolled in undergraduate science and astronomy classes in connection with lab assignments and in-class discussions.

The observatory will be located near the Jefferson College Softball Field, north of the Hillsboro campus on Farm Road. It will become the first public observatory in Jefferson County affiliated with SLAS. At present, the closest observatory to the site at Jefferson College is located in St. Charles.

Designed to appeal to community members of all ages, the “Aim for the Stars” events will provide an overview of plans for the Jefferson College Observatory, help viewers learn how to navigate the night sky, include discussions about items that can be seen at that time, and preview upcoming astronomy events of interest. Each observation night will be held either virtually or in-person at the observatory site depending on weather and campus COVID-19 restrictions.

All “Aim for the Stars” events will be held on Sunday evenings as follows:

  • Jan. 10, 7-8 p.m. - virtual
  • Feb. 7, 7-8 p.m. - virtual
  • March 7, 7-10 p.m. (in-person)
  • April 4, 8-11 p.m. (in-person)
  • May 9, 8-11 p.m. (in-person)
  • June 6, 8:30-11:30 p.m. (in-person)
  • July 4, 8:30-11:30 p.m. (in-person)
  • Aug. 8, 8:30-11:30 p.m. (in-person)
  • Sept. 5, 8-11 p.m. (in-person)
  • Oct. 3, 7-10 p.m. (in-person)
  • Nov. 7, 7-8 p.m. - virtual
  • Dec. 5, 7-8 p.m. - virtual

For in-person programs to occur, skies must be clear or only partly cloudy. Those who attend the in-person programs may bring their own astronomy equipment or use a limited number of telescopes provided. In case of inclement weather or pandemic restrictions, an alternate program will be presented.

For questions or additional information about the “Aim for the Stars” programs or the Jefferson College Observatory, contact Maryanne Angliongto, Jefferson College Associate Dean – School of Math, Physics and Technology, at 636-481-3318 or email manglion@jeffco.edu.

Observatory Location and Facts

The convenient location of the observatory site at Jefferson College is expected to draw visitors from Jefferson County and the surrounding St. Louis metropolitan region. The site will be especially attractive due to its location outside the immediate St. Louis area and the associated light band.

From St. Louis, travel south on Highway 21 to the Jefferson College/Hayden Road exit. Turn right onto Hayden Road and then left onto Jefferson College Drive. Farm Road will be approximately one-quarter mile on the right.

Phase I of the project includes the excavation, power, and concrete slab for the observatory dome, which was purchased by the St. Louis Astronomical Society. Completion of the first phase is anticipated near the end of March 2021.

The observatory’s purpose is to engage the community to learn more about the science of astronomy and physics. Regular stargazing and solar viewing events for the public will be hosted by Jefferson College and SLAS. A variety of events such as eclipses, transits, comets, and meteor showers are expected to draw large audiences. Educators and students of K-12 schools will be encouraged to make use of the observatory for educational projects.

The observatory will be developed in phases over several years as funding is secured. Project funds will be raised from public donations, grants, and corporate sponsors. Project rollout will be determined by available funding for each phase.

Additional Information

Jefferson College Observatory website – https://www.jeffco.edu/Observatory

Jefferson College Observatory Facebook - www.facebook.com/JCObservatory/

St. Louis Astronomical Society - https://www.slasonline.org/

Sarah Haas is the assistant editor for the Daily Journal. She can be reached at 573-518-3617 or at shaas@dailyjournalonline.com.

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