Astronomy Night and arts and crafts this Friday night

By Tom Di Camillo
Director of Media & Community Events

PINAL COUNTY, Ariz. - Central Arizona College's second Astronomy Night at the Peak event of 2011-12 blasts off with a new twist this Friday evening, Sept. 30, when Beyond Belief: Spanning the Universe in 10 Easy Steps is presented by Clark Vangilder, CAC's professor of physics.

Vangilder's presentation will take place at CAC's observatory and will consist of Powers of 10 as he takes guests on his journey through the universe. He also will discuss nuclear power and his experiences as a naval nuclear propulsion plant operator on a nuclear submarine.

While Vangilder is presenting, Dr. Wayne Pryor will make available CAC's twin NASA telescopes that boast large reflectors with 24-inch and 14-inch diameter mirrors. In addition, Pryor will open an array of smaller telescopes used to view various celestial bodies.

The event will be held at CAC's Signal Peak Campus located between the cities of Coolidge and Casa Grande, just east of I-10.

Vangilder served in the U.S. Navy from 1985-91 before attending Grand Canyon University to pursue a degree in mathematics. He earned his master's degree in physics from Arizona State University and arrived at Central Arizona College in 2008. He has served as the assistant pastor at Calvary Chapel in Maricopa since May 2005.
In addition to the outdoor educational and entertaining presentations, Katy Wilkins will inflate STARLAB, the indoor planetarium that provides a detailed view of the nighttime sky.

Wilkins, the dean of students at Toltec Middle School, will offer her ongoing presentations inside M101 from 7-9:30 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.STARLAB

Lynette Di Camillo, an elementary school teacher from the San Tan Valley with more than a decade of experience in both the Greater Philadelphia and Pinal County areas, will teach kids about the planets through a fun, hands-on activity.

CAC's Visual Art Gallery also will be open to view Carolyn Lavender's Recent Work. The exhibit is located in the Student Services Center (Building M, Clock Tower) next to where STARLAB will setup evening.

The outdoor atmosphere will be enhanced by music provided by Jerry Deall, CAC performing arts technical manager.

There is no charge for any of the family-oriented events. 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 evening 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 $5.57 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.

The following is the schedule of events for the evening:

• 5-6 p.m. - CAC's Cafeteria open for families - $5.57 plus tax (Cash purchases)
• 5-9:30 p.m. - CAC Visual Arts Gallery open - Carolyn Lavender Exhibit
• 6:30-9:30 p.m. - Children's activity with Lynette Di Camillo
• 7-9:30 p.m. - STARLAB ongoing presentations with Katy Wilkins (M101 - clock tower)
• 7-9:30 p.m. - Clark Vangilder's ongoing presentation (observatory)
• 7-9:30 p.m. - Dr. Wayne Pryor & the CAC telescopes will be open (observatory)
• 7-9:30 p.m. - Outdoor music

For more information on the Astronomy Night at the Peak event, please call 520-494-5204, or e-mail

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