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Motlow State Community College
P.O. Box 8500
Lynchburg, TN 37352-8500
(931) 393-1500

Invitation to a Star Party (Bring Your Own Chair)

March 24, 2011

Billy Hix Star PartyBilly Hix, a professor of education at Motlow College, is cranking up his telescope, setting up the sound system and inviting everyone to the parking lot of the Hands On Science Center (HOSC) in Tullahoma for an educational and fascinating look at our night sky. Star Parties, will take place the first Saturday of each month at the HOSC through the fall. The first big event of the year is next Saturday, April 2, about 7:30 p.m. As always, the public is invited and there is no admission charge.

Even though we are held to the ground by gravity; there has always been a curiosity of the stars, planets and space in general. In today's world of high technology, including phone apps that you can hold to the sky to identify constellations, the knowledge of astronomy might seem all too easy to acquire. Yes, you could search for details on the Internet but nothing beats the one-on-one human connection of learning from an enthusiastic teacher.

Hix's enthusiasm for teaching astronomy via the Star Party is why The Astronomical League featured him in their March 2011, quarterly publication, Reflector. The concept of having a Star Party is not new; they have been taking place for over 3,000 years. What is unusual is since Hix began teaching or hosting at the HOSC in the fall of 2009, attendance has grown substantially while other Star Parties nationwide seem to be losing attendance.

The difference just may be Hix's preparation and deliverance of the event. His goal is to teach teachers and students alike. He wants all in attendance to leave with a renewed curiosity of our skies. He begins with a lesson on a historical figure in astronomy and ties that to today's technology. A planetarium presentation to learn constellations and star facts is followed by time gazing through telescopes to identify all that was taught.

The outdoor event is for everyone, young and old. Teachers, students, parents and children of all ages will be intrigued by what is over head in the evening sky. Be sure to bring whatever you need for your comfort including: lawn chairs, blankets, snacks and your camera. If it is rainy, the program will be cancelled; if it is merely cloudy, the program will continue.

In addition to teaching at Motlow College, Hix is a member of several astronomical, science and educational groups including: The National Science Teachers Association, Von Braun Astronomical Society, a summer faculty fellow at Marshall Space Flight Center/ NASA and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) camps and TeachSpace programs.

To learn more about Motlow's education department visit the college's website. Visit for more information about The Astronomical League and the publication Reflector or for more information about the Hands On Science Center.