GTCC to Host Astronomy Festival March 3-4

Published on: February 22, 2017

JAMESTOWN, N.C. — Guilford Technical Community College will host its annual astronomy festival, TriStar, March 3–4 on GTCC’s Jamestown Campus, 601 E. Main St., Jamestown. The event gathers astronomy enthusiasts, from novice to professional, for a full day of lectures, displays and observing. It is free and open to the public.

In anticipation of the Great American Eclipse, which will take place August 21, 2017, the theme of this year’s TriStar will focus on solar eclipse, with topics covering past and future eclipses.

TriStar kicks off at 7 p.m. Friday, March 3 with a lecture, “Nature’s Grandest Spectacle: How, Where, and Why to View the 2017 Total Solar Eclipse” by David Baron, science journalist, author, and broadcaster. Baron is a long-time eclipse chaser and author. In the course of his reporting, Baron has visited every continent and earned some of the top honors in journalism. His written work has appeared in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Boston Globe, Outside, Lonely Planet, and Reader’s Digest.

The lecture will be held at Percy H. Sears Applied Technologies Center auditorium on the Jamestown Campus, 601 E. Main St., Jamestown. After the lecture, Cline Observatory will be open for observing, weather permitting.

TriStar continues 8:30 a.m.–5 p.m. Saturday, March 4 with the following lectures:

9:30 a.m. “The Great American Eclipse of 2017 Over North Carolina” — Enrique Gómez, associate professor of physics and astronomy at Western Carolina University, will present the peculiarities of solar eclipses in the Earth-Moon system, geometric and atmospheric effects that can be expected during this event, and observing techniques for a memorable experience.

11 a.m. “Edison and the Eclipse That Enlightened America” — David Baron will discuss the total solar eclipse of 1878 and share a few accounts from some of the remarkable people who witnessed it, including Vassar astronomer Maria Mitchell, who headed an all-female expedition to Denver to show what women could do in science, and a young Thomas Edison, who after observing the eclipse soon lit the world with his most famous invention. 

2 p.m. “Photographing the Solar Corona Without an Eclipse: The Forgotten Efforts of William Huggins”  Dr. Barbara J. Becker, former history of science professor at the University of California and author, will give a talk on the events following the solar eclipse of May 1882 that led amateur astronomer William Huggins to attempt a bold plan for photographing the solar corona without an eclipse. 

3:30 p.m. “When an Eclipse Trip Cost was only One Dollar” — Gayle Riggsbee, member of the Charlotte Amateur Astronomers Club since 1960, will discuss events surrounding a solar eclipse that was predicted to occur May 28, 1900, in the southeastern part of America. Riggsbee will share how George Hale, director of the Yerkes Observatory, suggested that many of the major astronomical observatories meet at the same place along the eclipse path so that their research could be coordinated. This is the story of how participating institutions and famous (or soon to be famous) people gathered in Wadesboro, N.C., to observe the eclipse.

In addition, TriStar will feature a wide range of demonstrations and displays, prize drawings, “how-to” help for astronomy beginners and an astroimaging contest.

A solar observing session also will be held (weather permitting) 12:30-1:30 p.m. outside the Applied Technologies Center. In addition, Cline Observatory will be open for a brief viewing session (weather permitting) 7-9 p.m.

For more information, please contact Tom English, professor of astronomy at GTCC and director of Cline Observatory, at or 336-334-4822, ext. 50023.


WHAT: GTCC presents TriStar, an annual astronomy festival featuring lectures, displays and observing sessions.


7 p.m. Friday, March 3: “Nature’s Grandest Spectacle: How, Where, and Why to View the 2017 Total Solar Eclipse” by David Baron, science journalist, author, and broadcaster

9:30 a.m.–5 p.m. Saturday, March 4 (doors open at 8:30 a.m.): A wide range of lectures, demonstrations, displays and observing sessions (weather permitting)

WHERE: All events will take place at the Percy H. Sears Applied Technologies Center, Jamestown Campus, 601 E. Main St., Jamestown

ADMISSION: Free and open to the public


Guilford Technical Community College is the fourth largest of 58 institutions in the NC Community College System. GTCC serves more than 40,000 students annually from five campuses and a Small Business Center. Learn more at


Back to All Articles