Friends of Ockanickon Science Center

Supporting Scouting's FIRST Science and Technology Center

Fifth Graders Experience Astronomy

As part of an overnight adventure, over thirty 5th grade pupils from the Russell Byers Charter School were given a unique opportunity to learn about the stars and constellations in November at Ockanickon Scout Reservation. Many of the students from center city Philadelphia had never before experienced the night sky filled with so many stars. The Milky Way, arching high overhead from Cygnus through Cassiopeia was clearly visible.

Ockanickon Science Center Space Wing
Ockanickon Science Center Space Wing
Preparing for a trip to the stars
Preparing for a trip to the stars
Following the outdoor orientation, Science Center Staff Carol and James Moyer hosted the group at the GE Betz Science Center with a trip to the stars in the StarLabÒ planetarium. Each pupil also made a star wheel to help locate the Big Dipper and constellations near the North star on any night of the year. The learning theme was why and how the stars appear to move across the sky nightly and throughout the year.

During the planetarium experience, students were encouraged to ask questions about the stars and constellations. The sample at right shows amazing depth of thought from these 10- and 11-year olds.

It was clear that this adventure made quite an impression on these 5th graders, and one that they will remember for a long time.

  • Where did the constellations come from?
  • Are there constellations with girl's names?
  • What is the "Drinking Gourd" constellation?
  • How far away are the stars?
  • Are there East, West, and South stars like the North star?
  • Can stars actually move?
  • Do stars die?
  • What does it mean that "we're all made of star-stuff"?
  • Have you ever traveled in space?
  • If not, how did you learn so much about the stars?

News from NEAF

Ockanickon Science Center staff exhibited the Ockanickon Observatory Project at the NorthEast Astronomy Forum (NEAF) in April. Lisa and John Ziegler of John's Telescopes allowed us to share their booth which gave us the opportunity to meet many amateur astronomers and exhibitors. Unexpectedly, we were presented with the donation of a heavy-duty GI-3 mount for our main observatory telescope at the show. This high quality mount, an important component to the project, will enhance the overall performance of the main scope. Other vendors gave us additional support, and key contacts were made.

Science Center Staff at NEAF
Science Center Staff at NEAF

Observatory's Main Scope Mount, CLICK TO ENLARGE
Observatory's Main Scope Mount

Science Center News

The Science Center at Ockanickon Scout Reservation is embarking on an exciting new project, construction of an Observatory!
Astronomy has been one of the mainstays of the program at the Science Center from the very beginning. The center has a large capital investment in equipment to support astronomy including a planetarium and 12.5" telescope. The only thing missing is a permanent observatory. Ockanickon is blessed with a night sky well away from artificial lighting that spoils the view. The Ockanickon Observatory will give large numbers of scouts and others the opportunity to learn about and enjoy the wonders of astronomy.

12.5 Inch computer guided NGT telescope

12.5 Inch computer guided NGT telescope

GE Betz Science Center at Ockanickon

GE Betz Science Center at Ockanickon

Through the efforts of our project team, we have made significant progress toward the Ockanickon Observatory already . Components for a large 19" telescope have been donated including mirrors, focuser, space-age carbon fiber tube, and a $7,000 mount. John and Lisa Ziegler of John's Telescopes have generously offered to do the final finishing, testing, and assembly of our observatory telescope. John has also freely extended expert technical oversight to our project. Ultimately, our plan is to have two large telescopes in the observatory at project completion.

Much work needs to be done to complete the observatory, everything from tree cutting to road building in addition to the actual building construction. While we have some volunteers already, we can use your help. e-Mail James Moyer to volunteer. Support Friends of Ockanickon Science Center with a donation. Please click on the link at right or contact James Moyer for information on mailing a check. Your donation will not only help us reach our observatory project goal, but will benefit the Science Center as a whole. All gifts are tax deductible.
You may also choose to contribute to the GE APAF Scholarship Fund to send a needy scout to camp.
Your gift may qualify for corporate matching. GE participants, click HERE.

Friends of Ockanickon
Science Center Donation