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Monte Sano State Park


Astronomy Day

Astronomy Day 2015

Theme: Bringing Astronomy to the People

Astronomy Day will be Saturday, October 17, 2015 from 1:00 PM to 10:00 PM in Monte Sano State Park


Click here for this year's Astronomy Day flyer.

Astronomy Day at VBASOn Saturday, October 17 from 1-10 pm, the Von Braun Astronomical Society will host its annual Astronomy Day at the VBAS facilities in Monte Sano State Park. Events will include family fun activities hosted by local science groups, planetarium shows and telescope observing (weather permitting). All activities are free and open to the public.

Outdoor hands-on activities from 1-5 pm will be offered by VBAS, as well as local science enthusiasts. In the past we have had representatives from HAL5 (National Space Society Huntsville Chapter), Sci-quest, and Lonnie Puterbaugh: Astronomy Van.

Short planetarium shows will allow guests to view the night sky indoors, while special solar telescopes outside will offer views of sunspots and solar flares. Visitors may tour both observatory facilities to hear stories about the construction and installation of the telescopes.

Evening activities will kick off at 7:30 pm with a presentation indoors by our keynote speaker, Dr. Nancy Jan Davis, former NASA Astronaut.

Outdoor activities include: The Astronomy Channel, a mobile multimedia astronomy exhibit presented by Lonnie Puterbaugh of Nashville, TN, along with the following activities:

  • *Astrophotography
  • *Meteorites
  • *Solar Telescopes
  • *Pin the Payload on International Space Station, and Make and Launch Your Own Paper Air Rocket presented by HAL5.
  • *Dry Ice comet making
  • *Spectroscopy
  • *Astronomy Van
  • *Live Satellite tracking
  • *Food Tent
  • *Telescope Workshop at 5:30 pm (Bring your telescope!)
  • *And many more

Afternoon Mini-Planetarium Show Schedule:

  • 1:30    The Apollo Exploration Missions and Discoveries by Al Reisz
  • 2:30    James Webb Space Telescope - The Future of Space Sight by Dr. Naveen Vetcha
  • 3:30    Design a Planetary Spacecraft mission by James Brelsford
  • 4:30    Soap Opera in the Sky by Doug Horacek
  • 5:30    What's New on Pluto via New Horizons by Doreen Forsythe


Evening Show

Flying in Space by Dr. Nancy Jan Davis at 7:30 pm

Speaker Bio:

Dr. Jan DavisDr. Jan Davis is Vice President and Deputy General Manager of Jacobs Engineering and Science Services and Skills Augmentation (ESSSA) Group at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) in Huntsville, Alabama. The ESSSA group at MSFC provides engineering, scientific, and technical support for projects and programs at Marshall.

Dr. Davis began her NASA career at Marshall in 1979 as an aerospace engineer. After supporting major NASA programs and projects, including the Hubble Space Telescope and the Chandra X-ray Observatory, she became a team lead and lead engineer for the redesign of the Shuttle Solid Rocket Booster External Tank attach ring.

In 1987, Dr. Davis was selected to join the Astronaut corps at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. She spent more than 670 hours in space as a mission specialist over the course of her three Space Shuttle flights: STS-47 (1992), STS-60 (1994), and STS-85 (1997). During these flights, she orbited the Earth 325 times. In 1998, she became the Director of the Human Exploration and Development of Space Independent Assurance Office for NASA Headquarters. Dr. Davis returned to MSFC and served as the Director of the Flight Projects Directorate at the Marshall Center until August 2003. Prior to retiring from NASA in 2005, Dr. Davis was the Director of Safety and Mission Assurance at MSFC leading up to the successful Return to Flight of the Space Shuttle in 2005.

Dr. Davis did her graduate research work in mechanical engineering at the University of Alabama in Huntsville and is a 1971 graduate of Huntsville High School. She also has degrees from the Georgia Institute of Technology and Auburn University in biomedical engineering and mechanical engineering, respectively.

She was elected to the Alabama Aviation Hall of Fame and the Alabama Engineering Hall of Fame. In 2002, she was given the Presidential Rank of Meritorious Executive, and she has received NASA’s Exceptional Service Medal, Space Medal, and Outstanding Leadership Medal. In 2012, she received Auburn University’s Lifetime Achievement Award and in May 2013, she received the Christine Richard Girl Scouts Lifetime Achievement Award.


In case of inclement weather, some activities may be modified or canceled.

Astronomy Day at VBAS is part of a nationwide series of Astronomy Day events promoted by the Astronomical League, a network of astronomy clubs throughout the United States.

The Von Braun Astronomical Society (VBAS) is an educational, scientific, nonpolitical and nonprofit organization dedicated to the promotion of interest in the descriptive and technical phases of astronomy and to encourage participation in observational, computational and applied phases of this and related sciences.

VBAS was founded in 1954 as the Rocket City Astronomical Association (RCAA) by Dr. Wernher von Braun and other Huntsville scientists, who envisioned a place to conduct meaningful scientific research and share astronomy with the community. The VBAS facilities include a planetarium dome constructed from Saturn V support hardware and many other unique architectural features.

If you are interested to exhibit or volunteer, please contact us!

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