Grant Funds Boy Scout Program, More, at McDonald Observatory

2 June 2008

FORT DAVIS, Texas —A $15,000 grant from Mr. Harry E. Bovay, Jr. of Houston, Mr. Lowell Lebermann of Austin, and Ms. Virginia Lebermann of Marfa, will help Texas Boy Scouts learn the wonders of the night sky at McDonald Observatory starting next week.

The grant provides for a college student to live and work at McDonald Observatory over the summer to assist with the Observatory’s Scout program, among other duties. The Frank N. Bash Visitors Center has hired University of Texas at Austin student Austin Gatlin, an undergraduate majoring in astronomy, for the job.

Thursdays this June and July, the Observatory will welcome as many as 250 Scouts weekly for its eight Scout Nights. Most of these Scouts will come from the Buffalo Trails Scout Ranch, located about 10 miles northeast of McDonald Observatory.

Scouts complete a combination of activities from the Scout Ranch and McDonald toward their Astronomy Merit Badge. They also receive a souvenir McDonald Observatory Scout Night patch designed by Art Director Tim Jones. Production of the souvenir patches was funded by the Bovay/Lebermann grant.

At McDonald, Scouts will observe the night sky through telescopes. This summer’s wonders include Saturn, Jupiter, the Moon, star clusters, nebulae, and various galaxies. In addition to touring the exhibits, Scouts will also participate a hands-on activity called “Modeling the Night Sky.” In it, they represent the planets in our solar system and constellations, learning how objects move in the sky and why different planets and constellations are visible at certain times of year only.

If your Boy Scout troop will be in West Texas during June or July, you may also attend Scout Nights at McDonald Observatory. For more information, contact Mark Cash at 432-426-3864 or cash@astro.as.utexas.edu.

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