Kensington Astronomy at the Beach

The 20th Annual Kensington Astronomy at the Beach, hosted by Kensington Metropark and the Great Lakes Association of Astronomy Clubs (GLAAC), will be held September 9th and 10th, 2016. It runs from 6:00 pm to midnight, rain or shine, both nights. Outdoor astronomy activities demand clear skies, but there’s plenty to do in our pavilion as well.

Download and share the flyer for 2016.

What happens at Astronomy at the Beach?


Video by WAS/FAAC/7 Ponds club member Doug Bock

Schedule of activities:

  • 6:00 to Sunset: View sunspots, prominences, and other features of the sun through safe white-light and incredible hydrogen-alpha solar telescopes.
  • 6:20 PM to 10:00 PM  (every 20 minutes): Visit the Michigan Science Center’s portable planetarium for a tour of the constellations and current evening sky.
  • 6:15 PM: Learn about the celestial visitors we call comets. Watch a “comet” be made from dry ice and common household ingredients. Very family friendly.
  • 6:45 PM: Kids can become the constellations in the “Rescue of Andromeda” impromptu play.
  • 7:30 PM: Oh What a Spin We’re In! From galaxies to planets to tornadoes, there’s a lot of spinning going on out there. Find out more about the space environment with liquid nitrogen and everyday common objects, participate in some angular momentum demonstrations, and watch a “fire tornado” come to life!
  • 8:15: Losing the Dark: Why can’t you see many stars from your neighborhood? Learn about how light pollution is making it harder to see stars and other astronomical objects, and what you can do to help reverse the trend.
  • 8:40 PM: 3D tour of the Solar System: Take a short 3D movie tour through our Solar System. This presentation uses the red-blue 3D glasses, please arrive a little early to get your glasses.
  • 9:00 PM:
    KEYNOTE: The Great American Total Eclipse of 2017
    On August 21, 2017, a total eclipse of the Sun will be visible from the contiguous United States for the first time since 1979. The track of the Moon’s shadow cuts diagonally across the nation from Oregon to South Carolina. Inside the 68-mile-wide path of totality, the Moon will completely cover the Sun as the landscape is plunged into an eerie twilight, and the Sun’s glorious corona is revealed for over 2 minutes.

    August 21, 2017 total solar eclipse as seen from the Moon from Michael Zeiler on Vimeo.

    Fred Espenak, Scientist Emeritus for NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, will present a detailed preview of this exciting event with maps, photos and weather prospects along the eclipse path based on his recent book on the same subject. He will also share some some of his eclipse experiences with us through photos and video. Find out what it’s like to stand in the Moon’s shadow and get ready for 2017.

  • All evening: there will be a Children’s Sky Tour Treasure Hunt. See one of every type of object for a prize!
  • Stay late and observe dozens of celestial objects until midnight through the many telescopes provided by the GLAAC members.
  • Many vendors will have various astronomy products, such as telescopes, binoculars, eyepieces, books and computer software on display and for purchase.
  • Visit our member clubs and sponsors in the pavilion. Participate in hands-on demonstrations, make-and-take activities, find out which club is nearest to you, and learn more about our wonderful sponsors.

There is no admission fee to attend but a Metropark vehicle pass is required. If you don’t have a yearly pass, a daily vehicle pass can be purchased at the gate for just $10.00. The event takes place at Maple Beach inside Kensington Metropark. Visitors are encouraged to bring a reusable water bottle. Seating outside may be limited, so consider bringing chairs.

People will be looking through telescopes, and the use of white light of any kind makes this difficult. Please be considerate: use only flashlights with red filters and don’t use a flash when taking photos outside.

The night sky isn’t as dark as it used to be. It is harder to see stars, galaxies and nebulae; Turtles, birds, bats and insects that travel at night are getting lost; people are developing more sleep disorders. Find out why.

About the Speaker

Fred Espenak
Fred Espenak is a retired NASA astrophysicist from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center where he worked with infrared spectrometers to probe the atmospheres of the planets. He is also known as “Mr. Eclipse” because of his work on predicting and observing solar eclipses. He has written over a dozen books on eclipses including his most recent “Eclipse Bulletin: Total Solar Eclipse of 2017 August 21.”

Espenak also runs 3 web sites: on eclipse prediction (www.EclipseWise.com), eclipse photography (www.MrEclipse.com) and general astrophotography (www.AstroPixels.com). Over the past 45 years he has witnessed 26 total eclipses of the Sun. In 2003, the International Astronomical Union honored Espenak by naming asteroid 14120 after him. Espenak now lives in Portal, Arizona where he operates Bifrost Astronomical Observatory.

Policy Change: Volunteering Is for Club Members Only

We regret that we will not be able to permit non-club members to bring equipment or act as volunteers at this year’s event.

Normally, we want do everything possible to encourage anyone and everyone to share their love of astronomy with the public. However, due to factors beyond GLAAC’s control, if you are not a member in good standing of a GLAAC organization or a paid employee of one of our sponsors or vendors, we ask that you please leave your equipment at home, and enjoy the event as a member of the public. If you would like to join one of our clubs, you can find a club in your area on the homepage. Thank you very much for your cooperation and support.

Sponsors

Information and Photos from Previous Years