Alamance County Public Libraries (ACPL) is partnering with the Alamance Parks Department and Alamance Community College (ACC) to host a week full of out of this world events during the week of November 1 in celebration of the launch of NASA’s new James Webb Space Telescope.
The Celebrate Astronomy in Alamance County programs will give area residents the opportunity to participate in astronomy-related activities such stargazing, as well as give them a chance to learn more about space telescopes and night sky photography, for example.
Elizabeth Weislak, youth services director for ACPL, said the library has done similar programming in the past, most recently in 2017 during the solar eclipse.
So, when Weislak saw an advertisement from NASA encouraging organizations to apply to host programs to highlight the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope, she applied on the ACPL’s behalf.
“We’re always looking for new program ideas and things that we think will appeal to our community and everything,” she said. “You could apply to be a program site for the James Webb Space Telescope celebration, so I applied, and we were selected.”
The launch of the Webb telescope was scheduled to launch during the week of November 1 but was pushed back to December 18 after ACPL scheduled their programs. So, ACPL stuck with their plan to hold the programs next week.
Monday through Friday, folks will get a chance to take part in five different programs, which are for children, teens and adults alike. Weislak talked about each day’s events.On Monday, November 1, ACPL and Alamance Parks will be hosting On the Road Outer Space Storytime with the Mobile Library at Jeffery H. Earp Municipal Park in Mebane. “We just are starting our mobile library, it’s starting to run its route so we’re doing a story time in conjunction with their stop there – it will be all about space and everything,” she said.
On Tuesday, November 2, ACC will be hosting a Zoom discussion revolving around Native American creation stories. Rich Thompson, manager of Town Creek Indian Mound, and Lawrence Dunmore, tribal historian and storyteller of the Occoneechi Band of the Saponi Nation will lead the discussion.
On Wednesday, November 3, there will be another Zoom discussion, this one hosted by Dr. Bryan Holler of the Space Telescope Science Institute. “he’ll be doing a Zoom talk about what it took to make this telescope, what the telescope is, what the purpose of telescope is, how it was built, what kind of images it’s going to take and what scientists are hoping to learn from it,” Weislak said.
On Thursday, November 4, folks can meet at 8:00 p.m. at Cedarock Park in Burlington for naked-eye stargazing and night sky photography. “Jason Weatherspoon, one of the programming people for Alamance Parks, is going to lead the naked-eye stargazing, showing you don’t need a telescope and fancy equipment to be able to look at the stars,” Weislak said. “Then, at 9:00 p.m., Erik Perel, a photography instructor at ACC, is going to lead a night photography workshop, so people can bring their DSLR cameras if they’re interested.”
Finally, to wrap of the week, there will be a “star party” on Friday, November 5 at the North Park Library in Burlington. “This is geared towards families and it’ll be from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m,” Weislak said. “We’ll have all kinds of different activities about space and games, crafts, and all sorts of other things like that. We’re also having some giveaways as part of this, as well.”
ACC Student Government has donated telescopes for the giveaways, and NASA sent some stickers and posters to give away, too.
Weislak added that ACPL hopes everyone who is able to take part in next week’s events to do so, as it will be a great way to interact with the community and learn new things.