Typically, we think of star parties as taking place in a remote location, under the darkest skies we can find and on a moonless night. Although this is certainly an ideal scenario for viewing our Milky Way galaxy and the faintest of stellar objects, there is still much we can see from our own backyards and yes, even under big city lights.
On August 18th, under a rising full moon, Celestron hosted a moon-inspired art show at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium in benefit of The Planetary Society and Free Arts. The Planetary Society was formed in 1980 by Carl Sagan, Bruce Murray, and Louis Friedman as a means of advocating space science and exploration through educating and inspiring the public. Through creative arts programs, Free Arts aim to better the lives of children who have experienced abuse, neglect, and poverty.
Attendees were able to view Mars and Saturn through one of the several Celestron telescopes that were set up on the pavement among the crowd. One merely had to stand near a telescope to hear awe-filled comments such as, “Wow, is that really Saturn?” or “I can’t believe I can see the rings, they’re so beautiful!” Perhaps my favorite comment of the night came from a little boy who, when viewing Mars yelled in excitement, “We have robots there? I wanna drive one!”
Inspiration permeated the air under the stars, and once you ventured indoors, the curated work of 30 artists from around the world graced the main lobby of the auditorium. Those who attended were able to purchase works ranging from photographs and paintings to sculpture and poetry. Music also filled the space, setting an ethereal tone while viewing the diverse, moon-inspired collection.
In addition, there was a silent auction featuring eight custom-painted Celestron tabletop telescopes. The list of contributors to the auction was impressive, including Planetary Society CEO, Bill Nye “The Science Guy,” John Davis, the creator The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, producer Pen Ward, from Adventure Time, and animator Colin Fleming, from Enchanted. Jim Davis was also signing autographs and chatting with fans while Joe Normal & the Anytowners rocked the outdoor stage.
Bill Nye and actor, Robert Picardo, from Star Trek:Voyager, entertained the crowd as they counted down the “top 10 fun facts about the cosmos and space exploration.”
Number one drew a unanimous laugh with:
“How many ears did the doctor on Star Trek have?”
“Three. The left ear, the right ear, and the final frontier.”
As the night progressed, the full moon finally greeted us as it began to rise in the east. Even the ISS (International Space Station), with its six astronauts onboard, made a brief cameo low in the west.
The very first LA Moonwalk was a night to remember, and ended up being a successful benefit. With any luck, it will become an annual celebration and continue to exhilarate stargazers for years to come.