Highland Road Park Observatory 25th Anniversary

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Christopher K.
Posts: 5988
Joined: October 12th, 2009, 3:28 pm
Location: Baton Rouge, LA

Highland Road Park Observatory 25th Anniversary

Post by Christopher K. »

This year the Highland Road Park Observatory celebrates its twenty-fifth anniversary. The first public night was in the fall of 1997, and HRPO will have a birthday party in November.

The idea to bring a public telescope to East Baton Rouge Parish came from a phone call between LSU astrophysicist Greg Guzik and Melanie Hair. Melanie was a member of BRAS, which was founded by Craig Brenden and Wally Pursell in 1981. The Department of Physics and Astronomy at LSU secured the funding for a 50cm (20in) professional-grade reflector from the Optical Guidance Systems company. Greg ultimately became, and remained through now, HRPO’s official LSU liaison. BREC (under then-Superintendent Eugene Young) agreed to provided grounds, a building, staff and an operating budget.

BRAS members (mainly Walt Cooney) have used the OGS reflector to discover over three dozen asteroids, the first of which was named after HRPO’s home city of Baton Rouge. More of the asteroids have been named for Greg, Craig, Wally, and BRAS members Frank Conrad and Merrill Hess.

HRPO’s Science Academy is an informal program for children aged eight to twelve and focuses on astronomy, physics, the American space program, geology, meteorology, chemistry, mathematics and the history of such. It has existed at HRPO in one form or another since at least the fall of 2001. At this time there are over eighty active Cadets, and twenty Cadets have earned the top-level Galactic Plaque.

The Friday Night Lecture Series began as a campfire program for families and has since morphed into an indoor presentation for a general adult audience. The quarterly “Wonders of the Sky” talks give active local skygazers a preview of the upcoming Baton Rouge night sky; this talk is traditionally given by HRPO’s Education Curator. Periodic regular talks include "Our Birth Stars"; “Buying Astronomy Stuff" is presented near the end of the calendar year.

HRPO is open annually for the peaks of the Perseid and Geminid meteor showers. Other annual events include NanoDays, the fall and spring Edge of Night (which premiered in 2016), American Radio Relay League Field Day and the Spooky Spectrum. Easily the most well-attended manufactured event of the calendar year is the annual International Astronomy Day.

Probably the two most well-attended celestial events in HRPO history were the close approach of Mars in August 2003 and the Transit of Venus in June 2012.

The three equal and autonomous partners—BREC, LSU and BRAS—have brought HRPO to the public for twenty-five years and I have every faith that HRPO will continue for another twenty-five.

This thread will be used to post alerts about upcoming events this anniversary year at HRPO.
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Joined: January 18th, 2022, 6:26 am

Re: Highland Road Park Observatory 25th Anniversary

Post by sigrid94 »

Hi! Happy learning about evening sky viewing
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