Astronomy Night at Akimel - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Community Focus

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Astronomy Night at Akimel

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Posted: Sunday, December 5, 2010 8:00 am

There have been nights dedicated to the planets and stars at Kyrene Akimel A-al Middle School previously, but the one on Nov. 29 was by far the biggest, said one organizer of the event.

In the past, the biggest draws to the event, such as the portable planetarium, telescopes from the East Valley Astronomy Club and student presentations, each had a separate night dedicated to each. This year staff decided to combine all three and more into one big event.

"It's very hectic, but it's very informative and the kids love it," said seventh-grade science teacher Steve Reed.

Some of the most unique items at Astronomy Night were the moon rocks lent out to teacher Tara Dale by NASA. Dale must recertify every year in order to bring the rocks, which she must have with her at all times or in a NASA-approved safe, to Akimel.

"The kids are always excited to see pieces that were collected by the Apollo astronauts," she said. "It's definitely worth it to have to carry them around."

Members of the East Valley Astronomy Club brought out their telescopes for students as part of a community outreach program that started in 1988, according to president David Douglass.

"This is something that's great for the kids," Douglass said. "You get a lot of ‘oohs' and ‘aahs' and that's when you know they see something and they are excited."

The portable planetarium, which is lent out by Arizona State University, gives the viewer a tour of the moon or a look through different solar systems and galaxies.

"We get it pretty much free two weeks out of the year so we wanted to share it with the parents because it's such a hit with the kids," Reed said.

Astronomy Night was a hit overall with the multipurpose room packed with people starting at 6:30 p.m.

"I like (astronomy) because it's cool to think about what's out there and find out stuff about our past," said Taylor Angilletta, a seventh-grade student who attended the event.

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