Annual festival features wide range of lectures


February 25, 2014

JAMESTOWN - Guilford Technical Community College's annual Triad Starfest - or TriStar - returns for its 13th year 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, March 1 in the Percy H. Sears Applied Technologies Center on GTCC's Jamestown Campus, located at 601 High Point Road, Jamestown.

Presented by GTCC's Cline Observatory and the Greensboro Astronomy Club, TriStar gathers astronomers, from novice to professional, for a full day of presentations, displays and observing. The event allows astronomy enthusiasts to share ideas, learn about a range of astronomical topics, reunite with old friends and make new ones. The annual event draws astronomers from North Carolina and surrounding states.

In addition to a series of speakers scheduled throughout the day on March 1, TriStar also will feature a wide range of astronomical demonstrations and displays, prize drawings, "how-to" help for astronomy beginners, an astroimaging exhibition and daytime and nighttime observing sessions (weather permitting).


To kick off the event, Gordon Emslie, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs  and professor of physics and astronomy at Western Kentucky University, will give a free lecture, "Spinning Pliers, the Chaotic Obliquity of Mars and the Existence of Extraterrestrial Life," at 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 28 in the Auditorium of the Percy H. Sears Applied Technologies Center. Cline Observatory will be open for observing, weather permitting, after the talk. Emslie also will give a second lecture, "Acceleration of High-energy Particles in Solar Flares," on March 1 as part of the TriStar festivities.

Emslie is a Harlow Shapley Visiting Lecturer of the American Astronomical Society, a program that consists of two-day visits by professional astronomers who bring the excitement of modern astronomy and astrophysics to colleges.

All events are free and open to the public. Anyone with an interest in astronomy is welcome to attend.

Presenters are available for interviews prior to the event and also the day of. Media are encouraged to attend. For more information, please contact Tom English, professor of astronomy at GTCC and director of Cline Observatory, at or 334-4822 ext. 50023.

For more information about TriStar, including a full schedule, visit  

About the Harlow Shapley Visiting Lectureship Program:
Astronomer Harlow Shapley (1885-1972) served for more than 30 years as director of Harvard College Observatory. He is most notably remembered for his work in identifying the center of the Milky Way and determining our solar system's location in the galactic outskirts. He strived to bring astronomy to the public through authoring several popular books and was a cofounder of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). In his honor, the Harlow Shapley Visiting Lectureship was created at the American Astronomical Society (AAS) with funding from the National Science Foundation and the Harlow Shapley Visiting Lectureship Endowment Fund. The AAS Harlow Shapley Visiting Lectureship Program provides two-day visits by professional astronomers who bring the excitement of modern astronomy and astrophysics to North American colleges of all types, especially those not offering an astronomical degree.

Guilford Technical Community College is the third largest of 58 institutions in the NC Community College System. GTCC serves more than 40,000 students annually from four major campuses and three specialized centers. Learn more at


- Carla Kucinski/GTCC