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Tri-State astronomers hold telescope clinic

January 12, 2008|By ALICIA NOTARIANNI

HAGERSTOWN ? Jessica Black wants to be an astronaut when she grows up.

She got a 4-inch reflector telescope and headed off Saturday afternoon to the Tri-State Astronomers Club's telescope clinic at Discovery Station at Hagerstown.

Jessica, 12, of Middletown, Md., said she has caught glimpses of seas and craters on the moon, and she wants to see and learn more.

"I want to learn more about what different parts of (the telescope) do, learn more about the lenses and how they work," Jessica said. "I want to find out more about what I can see and the quality of the images."

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Members of the astronomers club obliged, beginning with teaching Jessica about her telescope and its lenses and how to care for them.

"It's amazing," Jessica said. "There's a lot going on here. And (the club members) are all very nice and helpful."

Her father, Bryon Black, also commended the group.

"This is a great program," he said. "The men are wonderful and very knowledgeable. Learning hands on is so much better than reading a manual."

B. Marie Byers, president of Discovery Station, said it was terrific to have the Tri-State Astronomers on hand to encourage curiosity and learning.

"They are sharing what they know about science and the sky and helping other people widen their horizons," Byers said. "I am pleased with the attendance and the enthusiasm today."

Byers said that Discovery Station is an intergenerational science center, and that people of all ages attended the clinic.

Astronomy Club members Jim Stanicek and Steve Ott assisted Patricia Caro of Walkersville, Md., with balancing her telescope.

Caro said she has used telescopes for years, sometimes observing stars from the beaches of Long Island when she lived in New York. As she got older, Caro said it became too difficult for her to lug her heavy telescope around, so she passed it on to her grown children. They, in turn, bought her the telescope she has now.

"I've had this since October," Caro said. "It wouldn't stay still. It wobbled. I didn't have a clue. I was ready to toss it."

As club members helped her steady the instrument, Caro called them "wonderful, helpful and kind."

"I am motivated," she said. "I wanna look through this telescope."

Wally and Rose Beck took their great-grandson, Ryan Chinn, and the bright blue refractor telescope he got for Christmas to the clinic.

"I think this is great. It's so pretty at night to go out and see all the stars," said Wally Beck, of Frederick, Md. "This will be a whole new adventure for (Ryan). To see the stars with the naked eye is one thing, but then to see them through a telescope. He will probably try to reach for them."

"There's nothing wrong with that," Rose Beck said. "We all try to reach for the stars."

Ryan, 6, of Smithsburg, watched quietly with wide eyes as Tri-State Astronomy Club member Andy Smetzer of Waynesboro, Pa., helped him set up his telescope and doled out tips on how to focus it and which eyepieces to use.

Ryan said he planned to go home and put to use what he had learned.

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