The 16th Annual Astronomy at the Beach, hosted by Kensington Metropark and the Great Lakes Association of Astronomy Clubs (GLAAC), will be held September 21st and 22nd, 2012. 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.

This year, we will celebrate the last Space Shuttle missions to the Hubble Space Telescope and the International Space Station and discuss the future of the American manned space program. Our keynote speaker is two-time shuttle astronaut and geophysicist Dr. Andrew Feustel, a native of Lake Orion. Drew will talk about his work repairing the Hubble and installing modules on the International Space Station, as well as the future of space exploration.

There are activities for almost any interest and taste:

  • Come early to view sunspots, prominences, and other features of the sun through safe white-light and incredible hydrogen-alpha solar telescopes.
  • 6:00 PM to 10:00 PM ongoing (every 1/2 hour): A night sky simulation tours the constellations for the current evening sky using a portable planetarium.
  • 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.
  • 7 PM: Kids can become the constellations in the “Rescue of Andromeda” impromptu play.
  • 7:30 PM: Learn why light pollution is making it harder to see stars and what you can do to help reverse the trend.
  • 7:50 PM: Find out how cold space is through a series of fast moving demonstrations using liquid nitrogen and everyday common objects, then watch a “fire tornado” come to life!
  • 8:30 PM: Get a user-friendly introduction to astronomy from the Earth to the farthest reaches of the universe – then take a 3D voyage into deep space!
  • 9 PM: Meet a real astronaut, Drew Feustel, and learn from his insights into the future of NASA and spaceflight in general.
  • 10 PM: Get a laser-guided tour of the night sky and learn the shapes of the constellations.
  • 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.
  • Camera Mart, Great Red Spot Astronomy, and other vendors will have various astronomy products including telescopes, binoculars, eyepieces, books and computer software on display and for purchase.

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 $5.00. The event takes place at Maple Beach inside Kensington Metropark. Food and beverages can be purchased at the Metropark concession stand. 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 if taking photos outside.

Download and share the Astronomy at the Beach flyer:
Color (PDF, 1.2 MB) / Black and White (PDF, 1MB)
Press Release (PDF, 264 KB)
2012 Program and Schedule (PDF, 147 KB)

The night sky isn’t as dark as it used to be: it is harder to see stars, galaxies and nebulae. Find out why.


Information and Photos from Previous Years

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