Astronomy Night at the Peak features STARLAB, student art show & music on Sept. 9

By Tom Di Camillo
Director of Media & Community Events

PINAL COUNTY, Ariz. - Central Arizona College's first Astronomy Night at the Peak event of 2011-12 launches this Friday evening, Sept. 9, when Dr. Wayne Pryor takes visitors for a ride on Juno's Mission to Jupiter.

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.

In addition to Pryor's educational and entertaining presentations, Katy Wilkins will inflate STARLAB, the indoor planetarium that provides a detailed view of the nighttime sky, while Don Manack will present The Stars Come Out - the new exhibit of student artwork at the CAC Student Art Gallery.STARLAB

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.

John Sutton, CAC's guitar professor, and his students will provide music during the art opening.

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:

• 4:30-6:30 p.m. - The Stars Come Out - Student Art Gallery (Light refreshments & music)
• 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
• 7-9:30 p.m. - STARLAB ongoing presentations with Katy Wilkins (M101 - clock tower)
• 7:30-9:30 p.m. - Juno's Mission to Jupiter - Dr. Wayne Pryor's ongoing presentations (observatory)

On Aug. 5, NASA launched Juno on a five-year journey toward Jupiter, the largest planet in Earth's solar system. This mission has special meaning for Pryor because of his previous involvement with the Galileo mission to the giant planet.

"Juno will explore Jupiter from a unique polar orbit, providing a chance to study the planet's magnetic field, gravity field, and of course Jupiter itself," Pryor said. "My program will review Jupiter and its past exploration, as well as the upcoming Juno mission. I worked as a scientist on the previous mission to Jupiter from 1983-2003, so I'm really looking forward to this mission."

Pryor's presentation will take place at CAC's observatory that features twin NASA telescopes boasting 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.

Before the sun sets, Manack and CAC's student artists will present The Stars Come Out in the CAC Student Art Gallery located in the Sizer Building (N) across from the Pence Center.

"The exhibition will feature work from the digital arts classes in the creative arts division," Manack explained. "These include digital photography from both the intro and advanced classes, and the graphic design class."

The opening reception will run from 4:30-6:30 p.m. and will feature light refreshments (cookies and punch) supplied by CAC's culinary arts students.

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.

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