Family Fun Friday on May 13 features Astronomy Night, How to Eat Like a Child, music & heavy equipment

By Tom Di Camillo, Director of Media & Community Events

PINAL COUNTY, Ariz. - Central Arizona College's final Astronomy Night at the Peak takes place on the Signal Peak Campus this Friday evening, May 13, when Dr. Wayne Pryor takes visitors on an exploration of the moon.

But gazing at the stars is just one component of CAC's Family Fun Friday concept that features outdoor music, a theatrical production for kids and adults, heavy equipment display and a journey into STARLAB.

There is no charge for any of the family-oriented events, while food will be available for purchase throughout the evening. Here is a schedule of events for the evening:

• 5-6 p.m. - CAC's Cafeteria open for families - $6 per person
• 5-9:30 p.m. - CAC's heavy equipment on display
• 5-9:30 p.m. - CAC Visual Arts Gallery open - Student Art Exhibit
• 6-9:30 p.m. - CAC Café open for food sales
• 6:30-9:30 p.m. - STARLAB - ongoing presentations
• 7-9:30 p.m. - Exploring the Moon - ongoing presentations (observatory)
• 7-8 p.m. - How to Eat Like a Child theatrical production in the Pence Center
• 7:30-9 p.m. - Outdoor concert with The AJ's and CAC guitar students

CAC and Sodexo, the food service provider for the college, again are teaming up to offer an evening of affordable family dining under the constellations of the Arizona nighttime sky.

Dinner will be served from 5-6 p.m. at the Central Arizona College Dining Hall. The dining hall is located on the second floor of the Mel A. Everingham Student Center adjacent to The Green near the entrance to the campus.

Dinner is $6 plus tax per person for everyone and is served buffet style. The menu includes hamburgers, grilled cheese sandwiches, pizza, chicken nuggets, French fries, macaroni and cheese, a salad bar, self-serve ice cream and dessert stations, and a choice of beverages.

For the first time during Astronomy Night at the Peak, Sodexo will be selling a variety of products from the Café located adjacent on The Terrace between the T and O Buildings - and in close proximity to the observatory and the Pence Center.
Hamburgers, hot dogs, wraps, sandwiches, salads, chips and drinks will be available for purchase from 6-9:30 p.m.

While food will fuel up kids and parents, the event gets underway at 5 p.m. when CAC's heavy equipment operator program displays several of its large pieces of equipment.

"We will set up our new Caterpillar Backhoe we purchased just last week," Garrett Hurt, who oversees the program, said. "We also will display a John Deere Backhoe."

The heavy equipment will be on display throughout the evening for kids and adults who love big toys.

From digging equipment to really digging art, CAC's Annual Student Art Exhibit will be open from 5-9:30 p.m. The exhibit is located in the Visual Arts Gallery located in the Student Services Center (Building M, Clock Tower) next to where Katy Wilkins and STARLAB will setup evening.

STARLAB is an inflatable planetarium that provides an indoor look at the Arizona evening sky. Wilkins, the dean of students at Toltec Middle School, will offer her ongoing presentations inside M101 from 6:30-9:30 p.m.

"My public presentations usually consist of some short stories and how to locate constellations and some other interesting facts," she said.

STARLAB was purchased when Central Arizona College's SEMAA (Science Engineering Mathematics Aerospace Academy) program was being offered on campus.

At 7 p.m., the acclaimed children's musical How to Eat Like a Child will be onstage at the Don P. Pence Center for Visual & Performing Arts.

The roughly one-hour production takes guests through the highs and lows of being a kid. Twenty-two lessons are given in such subjects as How to Act after Being Sent to Your Room, How to Torture Your Sister, and How to Stay Home from School.

This multi-generational musical is geared toward the young - and the young at heart. With a cast of eight adults playing the four boys and four girls, the musical has been a hit on its school tour around Pinal County.

Exploring the Moon with CAC's Dr. Wayne Pryor also begins at 7 p.m. with a series of ongoing presentations until 9:30 p.m. Guests can enjoy the play from 7-8 p.m. or head directly to the observatory.

"I will be discussing NASA's plans for future space exploration, especially of the moon and asteroids," Pryor explained. "The plans are changing fast, and I will update people on what may come next after the space shuttle is retired. We also plan to view the moon and other objects through CAC's large telescopes."

CAC's observatory features a pair of NASA telescopes that will be open for terrific views of the sky. The telescopes include large reflectors with 24-inch and 14-inch diameter mirrors. In addition, Pryor will make available an array of smaller telescopes used to view various celestial bodies.

This marks the final Astronomy Night at the Peak events scheduled for the 2010-11 academic.

"These events are always a lot of fun for us and for the community," Pryor stated. "It is a terrific family event that we offer at no charge. Children - and their parents - seem to really enjoy it."

At 7:30 p.m., music will fill the air when John Sutton, CAC's guitar professor, and his students perform outside the Café. The music will run until approximately 9 p.m. The performances will include the The AJ's as well as other CAC student performers.

For more information on the Astronomy Night at the Peak event, please call 520-494-5202, or e-mail Tom Di Camillo at

Central Arizona College - District Office 8470 N. Overfield Road, Coolidge, AZ 85128 Phone: 800-237-9814