Saturday, July 14 2007 @ 12:40 am EDT

Contributed by: bobmoody

We have pulled the winning ticket for our Telescope Raffle, and the winner is, Melantha Sprayberry and family of Van Buren, AR. I made the call to her just one minute after the ticket was drawn by Entertainment Fort Smith editor Tessa Freeman who graciously agreed to be our official "ticket picker" for the evening. Now, we'll go about teaching the Sprayberry family all we can about how to use their new 6" telescope,

Melantha and husband John Sprayberry of Van Buren pose with their brand new 6" telescope on their porch on Friday, July 13th. What a lucky Friday the 13th it's been for them!
and how to use it to find up to a few thousand of the nicer objects in this neighborhood of our Milky Way galaxy.

I took the 6" Celestron StarHopper Dobsonian-style reflector directly to them in Van Buren immediately after the drawing was completed. Upon meeting them I saw a great deal of excitement about winning this telescope, and about the FREE 1st year membership in AOAS as well. We setup their telescope on their front porch and viewed Venus first, and then I finally spotted a very low Saturn and they were able to see the Ring World as well before it dropped behind some trees. It was love at first site, I believe.

These two young folks are going to be very interested students of astronomy. I also feel like they'll fit right in with our other club members.
Tessa Freeman, Calendar Editor for Entertainment Fort Smith graciously accepted our request to be our official "ticket picker" for the drawing on the 6" telescope. Here she and I pose for an unofficially official picture.
I asked Melantha when and where they had bought their ticket, and she said they had bought it at our first big event at the Old Timer's Day Festival in downtown Van Buren on May 12th. And, just to make this win a little bit sweeter, they bought only the one single ticket for $5, making this a win with just slightly lower odds of winning considering how many folks paid the $20 for 5 tickets. This was certainly one Friday the 13th they won't soon forget.

John and Melantha have a daughter who is visiting with relatives this summer, but they told me how much she was going to love getting this new telescope. After I heard them describe this young girl and how excited she had acted when we gave her some copies of the little booklets we were giving out at the Old Timer's event. That's when I remembered them as they were standing at our booth in May, asking all kinds of questions. Its funny how I now recall that I hoped they'd be the winner even though I knew it'd be a pure stroke of luck if they did. Come to think of it, I hoped quite a few people would be the winner. Our efforts at selling raffle tickets brought us into contact with a LOT of nice people who were very interested in astronomy and in our club.

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