See the stars through a CALS telescope

While the US may not be currently sending astronauts into space, there are still opportunities to learn more about the stars. To help inspire that, the Central Arkansas Library System (CALS) has a Telescope Program with telescopes available for CALS patrons to borrow.

The telescopes are 4.5” Orion StarBlast Newtonian instruments and will gather several hundred times more light than the unaided eye and magnify up to 56 times.  These small, portable scopes are particularly suited to observing the moon and the brighter planets, such as Saturn, Jupiter, and under proper conditions some “deep sky” objects can be observed as well, such as star clusters.

The CALS Telescope Program began in 2016 when the Central Arkansas Astronomical Society helped CALS procure funding for the program from the Arkansas Space Grant Consortium and then modified the original collection of 16 telescopes for public use. There are now over 40 telescopes available.

Since the program began, hundreds of CALS patrons have participated in the program, checking out telescopes to take home and attending educational events to learn about the night sky


SYNRG takes to the South on Main stage tonight

SYNRGSouth on Main is excited to welcome SYNRG to its stage on Saturday, July 20.

Show begins at 9 pm. Purchase advance tickets for $10 or pay $15 at the door.

Tickets do not guarantee a seat. To reserve a table, please call (501) 244-9660.

SYNRG Band is one Arkansas’ most fun energetic musical ensembles which specializes in an array of styles of music, through vocal and instrumental arrangements.

Shock the Rock tonight with world record Tesla Coil presented by Museum of Discovery

See World’s Largest Tesla Coil Shoot 60-Foot Bolts of Lightning at “Shock the Rock”Fans of famed inventor Nikola Tesla – as well as all science and technology aficionados – are invited to witness the world’s largest Tesla Coil in action at “Shock the Rock!,” a Tesla-themed, free event that begins at 6 p.m. Saturday, July 20, on the grounds of the Clinton Presidential Center. “Shock the Rock!” is powered by Entergy and presented by the Museum of Discovery.

Greg Leyh, a California electrical engineer and scientist, completed construction of the 40-foot Tesla coil tower in October 2018 and will display its awesome capabilities in Little Rock after his world-record device is featured at a Nikola Tesla birthday party celebration July 13 at the Tesla Science Center in Wardenclyffe, NY.

Entergy is the presenting sponsor of “Shock the Rock!,” and other sponsors include Landmark PLC; Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau; Meadors Adams & Lee; VIP2; Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort; and the McKibbon Group. Their support will help offset the costs to divert the coil’s journey back to California and to stage the event.

This is the third time Leyh has built the world’s largest Tesla coil, each exceeding its predecessor in height, power and the ability to produce what Leyh calls “lightning on demand.” At “Shock the Rock!” Leyh’s latest world-record coil will be centered on the large concrete pad at the western edge of the Clinton Center grounds cordoned off from the crowd, ensuring zero danger from being on-site to watch the awesome power of 60-foot bolts of lightning.

Pre-“Shock the Rock!” festivities will begin at 6 p.m. on the grounds of the Clinton Presidential Center. Museum of Discovery educators will present electricity-related demonstrations and host hands-on, interactive activities with guests at the event from 6:30 until 8:30 p.m.

The 40-foot Tesla show will begin at 8:45 p.m. and will last 45 minutes. Food trucks will be on site, and beer and other beverages will be available for purchase. Attendees are invited to bring lawn chairs and blankets. Coolers and outside food or drink will not be permitted. The public is encouraged to bring ear protection. Museum of Discovery will also provide earplugs at no charge.

Mark 50 years of Apollo 11 with a screening of APOLLO 13 at CALS Ron Robinson tonight

Apollo 13 PosterOn July 20, 1969, “the Eagle has landed” was uttered as man stepped foot on the moon.

While the Apollo 11 mission was successful, two missions later, Apollo 13 faced many travails.  Ron Howard’s 1995 film explored the aborted 1970 Apollo 13 mission. It is based on the book Lost Moon: The Perilous Voyage of Apollo 13 by astronaut Jim Lovell and Jeffrey Kluger.

Astronauts Lovell, Jack Swigert, and Fred Haise aboard Apollo 13 for America’s third Moon landing mission. En route, an on-board explosion deprives their spacecraft of most of its oxygen supply and electric power, forcing NASA’s flight controllers to abort the Moon landing, and turning the mission into a struggle to get the three men home safely.

The film’s star-studded cast includes Tom Hanks, Kevin Bacon, Bill Paxton, Gary Sinise, Kathleen Quinlan, and Ed Harris.  The movie was nominated for nine Oscars (Picture, Supporting Actor-Ed Harris, Supporting Actress-Kathleen Quinlan, Adapted Screenplay, Art/Set Direction, Visual Effects, Film Editing, Original Score, and Sound) and won two: Sound and Film Editing.

Tonight (July 20) at the CALS Ron Robinson Theater, Apollo 13 will be shown.  Doors open at 6pm and the film starts at 7pm.  Cost is $2.  Members of the Central Arkansas Astronomical Society receive free admission.


Celebrate 50th anniversary of Moon landing today at the Museum of Discovery

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The Museum of Discovery is inviting people to join them to celebrate the moon landing 50th anniversary with space exploration activities!

There will be fun activities for all ages including the chance to see some actual moon rocks!

Events are from 10am until 3pm.

Tickets are included in regular museum admission or free for members.

Remembering when Buzz Aldrin appeared in Little Rock

Forty-four years after being the second man to step foot on the moon, legendary astronaut Dr. Buzz Aldrin spoke in Little Rock. His appearance was sponsored by the Clinton Foundation and the Clinton School of Public Service.

He and Leonard David, veteran space journalist and co-author of Dr. Aldrin’s book, “Mission to Mars: My Vision for Space Exploration” were in conversation in Little Rock on August 14, 2013 inside the Robinson Center Music Hall.

Aldrin was engaging, enthusiastic, opinionated and an overall wonderful speaker as he spoke about space exploration and his experiences. A video of his appearance is available here.

Selected into the NASA in 1963, Dr. Aldrin developed docking and rendezvous techniques for spacecraft in Earth and lunar orbit, which was critical to the success of the Gemini and Apollo programs, and are still used today. He pioneered underwater training techniques, as a substitute for zero gravity flights, to simulate spacewalking and during the 1966 Gemini 12 mission, he preformed the first successful spacewalk. On July 20, 1969, Dr. Aldrin, along with Neil Armstrong made their historic Apollo 11 moonwalk, becoming the first two humans to set foot on another world.

50 Years since the Giant Leap for Mankind

On July 20, 1969, at 3:17 pm (Little Rock time), the lunar module Eagle set down in the Sea of Tranquility on the moon. Astronaut Neil Armstrong radioed to Mission Control in Houston, “The Eagle has landed.”

At 9:39 pm, several hours ahead of schedule, Armstrong opened the hatch and started his slow descent to the lunar surface.  At 9:56 pm, he set his booted foot on the moon and uttered his now famous (and garbled) statement: “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.”

At 10:15 pm, astronaut Buzz Aldrin joined Armstrong on the moon.  The pair explored the surface, conducted experiments, took photos, and planted the US flag.  They also spoke with President Nixon.  Shortly after midnight on July 21, the pair returned to the Eagle.  Twelve hours later they began heading back to the Apollo 11 which was orbiting the moon piloted by astronaut Michael Collins.

Since the Arkansas Gazette was a morning paper, they did not carry the news until the morning of July 21.  Though the Arkansas Democrat was an afternoon paper, they published their Sunday edition in the morning. And since the events transpired after what would have been their afternoon deadline, their coverage did not appear until the afternoon of July 21.  (During liftoff, the Democrat got the lead on the Gazette by publishing stories on it in their July 16 edition while the Gazette had to wait until July 17.)

As expected, much of the news in those papers was about the moon landing. Even some of the other news had a lunar bent. A photo showed US soldiers in Viet Nam listening on the radio to coverage of the landing.

But there was other news going on.  Egypt and Israel were still fighting.  Indira Gandhi celebrated a political victory in India, while Spain was looking toward Prince Juan Carlos eventually becoming King upon the death or retirement of Franco (which would not come until 1975).  It was announced that Senator Ted Kennedy would be charged with leaving the scene of an accident after his wreck in Chappaquiddick which resulted in the death by drowning of his companion,  Mary Jo Kopechne.

Closer to home, the new Miss Arkansas, Marilyn Kay Allen, was adjusting to her new role.  The Arkansas Constitutional Convention continued to grind on.  The Travelers lost 4 to 1 to Amarillo on the road.