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C of I set for family-themed Astronomy Day event

April 11, 2017

There are 88 constellations represented in the night sky, from the omnipresent Little Dipper to the powerful Orion. And this month, College of Idaho students and faculty will provide an opportunity for stargazers of all ages and abilities to learn more about each of them during the C of I’s annual Astronomy Day celebration.

This year’s Astronomy Day event, “Science on Spaceship Earth,” will begin at 6:30 p.m. on April 22 in the Whittenberger Planetarium, located inside Boone Science Hall near the corner of 20th Avenue and Fillmore Street in Caldwell. While the event has traditionally focused on astronomy topics like the solar system, eclipses and star formations, this year’s event will feature demonstrations from multiple scientific disciplines, including biology, chemistry, geology and natural history.

The event is free to the public and is suitable for all ages.

“It’s meant to be a multigenerational, public science event,” Planetarium Director Amy Truksa said. “We’ll have plenty of stuff going on for the adults and anyone else who wants to learn more about science.”

Truksa, along with other C of I faculty members and science students, will offer a combination of outdoor and indoor activities. Inside Boone Hall, students and instructors will offer tours of the Orma J. Smith Museum of Natural History, help visitors build eclipse viewers and scale models of the solar system, and provide stations to learn about various science topics like hexaflexagons and Mobius strips.

Outside, visitors can receive face paintings and, as weather permits, will be able to cast their eyes to the skies using the college’s telescopes to search for spring constellations, including Orion, Taurus, Leo and Cassiopeia, among others.

“We want people to be able to see the motion of the stars across the sky, which is a pretty neat thing,” Truksa said. “Lots of people don’t think about the stars rising and setting with the sun and the moon, but they do have movement of their own.”

April 22 is a significant date for the event, coinciding with both Earth Day and the March for Science, a planned date of rallies to be held in more than 300 other cities around the world.

“At first, I just loved the event was on Earth Day, but now that there is also this March for Science, I’m even more excited,” Truksa said. “I think on a day when people are focused on science and its importance in our world, actually providing a public outreach science event seems like a proactive and positive way to address the need for scientific research to continue forward.”

The College of Idaho has a 125-year-old legacy of excellence. The C of I is known for its outstanding academic programs, winning athletics tradition and history of producing successful graduates, including seven Rhodes Scholars, three governors, four NFL players and countless business leaders and innovators. Its distinctive PEAK Curriculum challenges students to attain competency in the four knowledge peaks of humanities, natural sciences, social sciences and a professional field—empowering them to earn a major and three minors in four years. The College’s close-knit, residential campus is located in Caldwell, where its proximity both to Boise and to the world-class outdoor activities of southwest Idaho’s mountains and rivers offers unique opportunities for learning beyond the classroom.  For more information, visit