Johnson County Community College
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Evening with the Stars


Evening with the Stars

Springtime brings chance to check out the sky

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. – If you've ever wanted to take a closer look at the night sky, you've got a chance to do so on Saturday, April 5, at Johnson County Community College.

The Evening with the Stars program will begin at 8 p.m. with a presentation on the latest thinking about black holes. Afterward, attendees will be invited to visit the college's Paul Tebbe Observatory on the roof of the CLB building. If the weather permits, they should be able to observe a number of objects of note, including the Orion Nebula, the Beehive Cluster, Jupiter and the moon.

The event is sponsored every spring by the college's science division.

"We invite the public out to hear a little bit on what's going on in astronomy," said Doug Patterson, JCCC professor of science. "We vary the topics from semester to semester and then go up to the observatory to check it out."

This year's presenter will be William Koch, JCCC professor of science. His address, "The Black Hole Conundrum," will take place in Craig Auditorium, GEB 233. The evening is free and open to the public.

Most black holes are the remnants of massive stars. All of the matter inside them is crushed to a single point in the center. Their gravity is so strong that not even light can escape.

"There's a lot of physics we can understand by studying black holes," Patterson said. "They are fertile ground for new understanding. And they are darn cool."

The college's observatory, named after a former professor at JCCC, has a deck that is equipped with one permanently mounted 12-inch reflecting telescope. The telescope is used with CCD cameras and has provided some remarkable images of the universe. In addition, the observatory has four other 8-inch reflecting telescopes that can be placed on one of the two other hard mounts on the deck or on portable tripods.