Astronomy club for amateurs now forming

Ponca City Now - July 15, 2019 9:15 am

Have you ever looked at the sky and wondered about the Stars and Planets? Ever want to know which
of those lights up there is a Star and which is a Planet? There is now a group forming to learn about the
night sky. This is not a group of professional astronomers but amateurs wanting to learn more.

Club president Richard Jones said that on Oct. 4, 1957, the Russians launched the Satellite Sputnik.

“I was 10 years old and this sparked an interest in me about the stars. I remember laying in the yard here in Ponca City, looking at the sky, waiting for Sputnik to pass over head and looking at the other stars. I begged for a telescope and for Christmas, it was my favorite gift.

“No one knew anything about telescopes or astronomy so I was on my own,” he said. “I found the Moon and went to get my parents to come look, but by the time they arrived, Earth has rotated and the moon was gone from my telescope.  I scrambled to find it, but not before my folks had gone back in the house. I lost my interest and the telescope sat in the closet, never to be used.”

Jones said he doesn’t want anyone else to have that experience.

“If you have a telescope sitting in a closet or the garage, dust it off and let me help you figure it out. If you have wanted a telescope, but didn’t know what to buy, or even what to look for, then the astronomy club is a place to start,” he said.

“Before you buy one, come look at and look through some of our telescopes, ask us questions about them. Find out the pro’s and con’s about each one,” Jones said. “The astronomy club will attempt to have several events each month, depending on the weather (there are not any filters that allow us to see through the clouds).”

“Sidewalk Astronomy” is a monthly event scheduled around the phases of the Moon, he said.

“A First Quarter Moon is the best time as the shadows of the mountains and craters of the moon show up, giving better resolution of the details. Also any planets that are in the sky are great to look at,” he said.

“Right now Jupiter with its moons and a little later Saturn are in the sky. During the Third Quarter Moon or a New Moon, the sky is much darker and the club will have a ‘Dark Sky Party.’ The club will visit a place that is void of street lights and porch lights to look at much fainter objects in the sky such as other galaxies, dust and gas clouds in space (Nebulas), star clusters and double stars.”

To know when and where the next event will be, check the club’s website at Ponca Astronomy.

“You don’t have to join to attend a meeting or the ‘Sidewalk Astronomy’ event, so come by and see
what we are looking at or come to a meeting to see that we don’t talk a different language. Let us spark
your interest and hopefully to get you to join us,” Jones said.


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