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Attend a Star Party and more at Rowan Public Library

By Laurie Lyda

Rowan Public Library

SALISBURY – This April, join the party as Rowan Public Library, in concert with institutions and organizations across North Carolina, celebrates science.

The festivities are part of the N.C. Science Festival, which was founded in 2010 and is the first statewide science festival in the United States. Through a series of community-based events in April, the festival celebrates the economic, educational and cultural impact of science in the state.

Participating locations hold a range of events and share a common thread: showcasing STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) activities.

This year, the library’s featured event is “Moonstruck: A Star Party!” which will be held at the South Rowan Regional Branch, 920 Kimball Road in China Grove, from 6 to 9 p.m. April 12. The program is free, and all ages are welcome.

“Moonstruck” is part of the 2019 Statewide Star Party, sponsored by the N.C. Science Festival and made possible through the support of the N.C. Space Grant. The seventh annual Statewide Star Party includes 55 host sites that are offering public skywatching sessions on either April 12 or 13.

This is the second year that public libraries have been included and that the Rowan library has participated.

This year’s theme is “The Moon and Beyond,” in honor of the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. Rowan Public Library has partnered with Rowan-Salisbury Schools’ Horizons Unlimited for “Moonstruck,” and Horizons staff will coordinate and lead the outdoor skywatching.

In the event of bad weather, the skywatching will move indoors to South’s meeting room, where Horizons staff will lead an online exploration of the evening sky. Members of the Astronomical Society of Rowan County will be on site to assist; long-range binoculars and spotting scopes will be available for public use.

“Events like the Statewide Star Party are great opportunities for families to enjoy spending time together outside. The N.C. Science Festival is dedicated to providing activities to explore various science-related resources in our own backyards, public spaces, or even in our homes. Most NCSF events are free to low cost and only require families to show up and participate,” said Amber Covington, headquarters’ librarian and co-coordinator of “Moonstruck: A Star Party.” “I hope that everyone will explore science-related events during this month-long festival.”

Staff are hoping for clear skies to make the experience phenomenal. “With clear skies, all participants will be able to view Orion, Taurus and Leo constellations. Mars will appear reddish at nightfall and can be seen using the onsite equipment,” explained Covington.

The South library will close at 5 p.m. April 12 as usual, but the fun begins at 6 p.m. when the branch reopens. The main event is skywatching, which will be led by Horizons Director Amy Pruitt. Special sessions will begin on the half hour at 6:30, 7:30 and 8:30 p.m. These sessions will explore the science of the moon and other sky objects, as well as their tales and legends from  around the world.

Participants don’t have to limit themselves to just one session, though: Each session will be changed a bit so that people who want to skywatch the entire time can if they want to.

Also at 6 p.m., a children’s storytime will be performed inside by library staff. From 6:30 to 7:30 p.m., visitors are invited to experience “Yoga Under the Sky” on South’s lawn. This free class will be led by staff from Salisbury’s Samadhi School of Yoga. Participants should bring a mat or towel for groundwork. If the weather doesn’t permit outdoor yoga, it will move indoors.

From 6 to 9 p.m., there will be a range of hands-on STEAM activities, displays and even a face-painting booth for patrons to enjoy. All Statewide Star Party host sites received an activity kit based on the year’s theme, “The Moon and Beyond.” Participants will learn about eclipses and phases of the moon, moon craters and their creation and more.

South’s adult computer lab will host a makerspace event, where staff will demonstrate how to use Tinkercad to 3D print on a Mini Makerbot. Participants will be able to see their designs become product, too. There will also be a green screen photo area where participants can have their picture taken on the moon (or another out-of-this-world locale).

During “Moonstruck” all branch services will be available, including the teen and children’s computer labs and circulation, so patrons are welcome to browse the collection, check out items, and work on public computers.

The South library will returnsto regular business hours on April 13, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

In addition to the star party, the library system will host four other festival-approved events this month:

• From 11 a.m. to noon Saturday, experience “STEAM Into Adventure: Virtual Reality” at the Headquarters branch, 201 W. Fisher St. This program teaches children ages 6 to 11 about the science behind virtual reality using hands-on experiments. Participants will also be able to try out some simulations using virtual reality goggles. For details, call 704-216-8234.

• Make “Marbled Planet Paintings” at South library’s April 13 “STEAM Into Adventure” from 11 a.m. to noon. Geared for ages 6 to 11, participants can make paintings of their favorite planets using shaving cream to recreate the marbled look of an atmosphere. For details, call 704-216-7729.

• On April 18, Headquarters’ weekly children’s “Art in the Afternoon” program, which runs from 4:30-5 p.m., will feature “Lunar Crafts.” Prekindergarten through fifth-graders will paint and draw different phases of the moon while learning about moon facts and the moon landing. For details, call 704-216-8234.

• East Branch, at 110 Broad St. in Rockwell, will host “Solar Science” from 4 to 5 p.m. April 30. Children ages 7 to 12 are invited to make solar ovens and their own melted treats. Then, they’ll enjoy their solar-baked snack while learning more about the library’s space-themed summer reading program. For details, call 704-216-7842.

Additional space-themed programs are planned beyond April.

“The N.C. Science Festival and Star Party are just the beginning of our space-themed programs this year,” said Hope Loman. “The theme for summer reading is ‘A Universe of Stories,’ and we’re incorporating all kinds of space and sci-fi elements into our children, teen and adult programming – from make-your-own-droid jars to a Star Wars spelling bee. In … October, RPL will also host a Starlab, which is basically a portable planetarium, and there will be events focused on astronomy during that time.”

On July 20, Horizons Unlimited, in collaboration with the library, hosts a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the moon landing at the Margaret C. Woodson Planetarium.

“The details are still being worked out, but there will be a show in the planetarium plus other activities – it’s going to be a lot of fun,” said Covington.

For more information, call Horizons at 704-639-3004.

To learn more about the library and its programming, visit rowanpubliclibrary.org. For more information about the N.C. Science Festival, visit www.ncsciencefestival.org. For a full list of 55 Statewide Star Party host sites, visit www.ncsciencefestival.org/starparty

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