The Vero Beach Museum of Art recently hosted another stellar VBMA Star Party, where all eyes were turned toward celestial displays – heavenward outside on the west lawn and indoors in the Holmes Gallery.
Outside, members of the Treasure Coast Astronomy Club were on hand with a variety of telescopes to help bring things into focus, primarily Jupiter and the Moon.
Views of the Moon were especially poignant given that 50 years ago, almost to the day, Apollo 11 Commander Neil Armstrong and lunar module pilot Buzz Aldrin landed the Apollo Lunar Module Eagle on the Moon and would plant the American flag on a site they named Tranquility Base. On July 20, 1969, Armstrong became the first person to step onto the lunar surface, joined shortly after by Aldrin, while command module pilot Michael Collins circled the lunar orbit aboard Columbia.
“This is a great opportunity to get families and community members into the museum,” said Sara Klein, VBMA director of education. “We are ensuring VBMA’s legacy is carried on in future generations. It’s important to have families in here for intergenerational learning, with children and their grownups learning right alongside each other.”
Indoors and out, the real stars of the evening were children, who shone brightly as they toured the Astronomy Photographer of the Year exhibit, using homemade telescopes to ‘zoom in’ on the photographs, before sketching their own masterpieces. Next, visitors headed over to the Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads: Gold exhibit, where they could connect the dots in the sky with 3-dimensional sculptures of their own Zodiac star signs.
In the Educational Wing art studio, teaching artist Christine Thomas led a space-themed project where youngsters could explore their personal planetary connections. The children made marbleized planets and then added their birth constellations to the background.
Before launching into space outdoors, where they could give Hula Hoops a whirl to mimic the rotation of the planets, the children visited the Art Zone and posed on the Moon with their favorite Martian. For the shutterbugs in the crowd, teaching artist Aric Attis walked folks through several different kinds of astrophotography techniques.
As the evening drew to a close and the stars began to twinkle, diehard astronomy buffs gathered for a dark sky viewing, thanking their lucky stars for the family-friendly evening.
The Astronomy Photographer of the Year exhibit will be on display through Sept. 29 and the Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads: Gold through Dec. 15.
For more information, visit vbmuseum.org.