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Wednesday, July 24 2024 @ 05:35 pm EDT

Mt. Magazine Grand Re-Opening.

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Jon Stone (green shirt) and Dale Hall (blue cap)attending to their telescopes for public viewing of the Sun at Mt Magazine State Park, May 20, 2006. CAAS member Wade Van Arsdale kneels to view the Sun. Photo by Bob Moody.
On Saturday, May 20, amateur astronomers from around the state of Arkansas gathered at Mt Magazine State Park to help with a portion of the activities for the Grand Re-Opening of the facility. Astronomers from Arkansas Oklahoma Astronomical Society joined others from Central Arkansas Astronomical Society, the Red River Astronomy Club, and even a few members of the Astronomy Club of Tulsa, and the Oklahoma City Astronomy Club to share the views of the Sun with the public. While there was only a short line of small spots near the Sun's leading limb, everyone was able to see them safely with 5 or 6 properly filtered telescopes.

NEVER attempt to view the Sun with ANY optical device unless proper SAFE solar filters are used. Instant, permanent eye damage may result!

Bob Moody, president of AOAS, gave a 45 minute long presentation on the Sun to an audience of about 18 people. Bob used images from the SOlar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) website as well as a CD-ROM which is available FREE from the website to explain several solar phenomena. Topics were Coronal Mass Ejections (CME's), the Sun in different wavelengths of light, and the physical properties of sunspots. Everyone moved outside for the solar observing between 2:00 and 3:00pm.

Most of the amateur astronomers broke down round 3 o’clock and moved just down the road to the Horse Camp area to set up for the nighttime viewing that night. Even the public was invited to visit the area that evening until 10:00 to share the view with them. Currently the Horse Camp site doesn't have electrical outlets, but the Park plans to add them in the future. All amateur astronomers are encouraged to let the Park know that they are amateurs whenever you visit the park so that the Rangers will know just how many astronomers visit the park to observe. The more numbers of visiting astronomers there are, the more likely they'll make improvements in an astronomy-friendly way.

Mt Magazine State Park now has a new, state-of-the-art Lodge with 61 rooms for rent overlooking the Petit Jean River Valley to the south, along with an ultra-modern presentation area with multimedia projectors and high-speed Internet connections available for lectures. In addition, there are 13 individual cabins for rent with from 1 to 3 bedrooms available, and more cabins are planned for the future. There are also several hiking trails available from as little as 1 mile long and up to 34 miles in length. Hang gliders also enjoy an area set aside specifically for them to take to the skies safely, too.

We would like to thank the Mt Magazine Park Interpreter, Don Simons, for his help with the activities that day which made the entire day a great success.
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