2007-05-24 / Front Page

Our dark skies make good viewing at astronomy village this weekend

It's really, really, dark just south of Wilkes County near Sharon and Raytown, and that's bringing astronomers and stargazers from all over the South this weekend to see the stars.

The Deerlick Astronomy Village will be hosting a Memorial Day picnic from noon on Saturday May 26 through Monday night, said Donovan Conrad, co-founder of The Deer Lick Group, LLC, at the group's property near Raytown.

Each year, he said, the Deerlick Astronomy Village (DAV) hosts a family-friendly picnic, "an opportunity for families, school and church groups, and the curious public to come and have some fun and, weather permitting, grab some photons at night."

During the day, the astronomers have fun passing the daylight hours with kite-flying, Frisbee-throwing, barbeque cooking and eating. "Once it gets dark," Conrad said, "we will show off the wonders of the heavens to the uninitiated and help all those folk who need it to learn to use those telescopes they got years ago, but have never gotten to work."

Later, he said, "when the kids settle in and things get quiet, then we who wish to can do some seri- ous observing."

During the day, there will be talks on astronomy, telescopes, the local area's history, and other topics. "If we get clouded out completely from observing at night, we will build a bonfire and do a weenie and marshmallow roast," Conrad said.

The Deerlick Astronomy Village, DAV, is a unique planned community catering to the specific needs of amateur and professional astronomers, according to the group's web site www.deerlickgroup.com. The astronomy village is located, they say, "in the very darkest skies in central Georgia, far away from big city lights but at the same time convenient to many major metropolitan areas in the Southeastern USA."

To reach the village, drive south from Washington on Lundberg Road. At the Raytown intersection, go to Double Wells Road. On Double Wells Road, go 0.3 miles to Aaron Grier Road. (There is no sign, just a new dirt road.)

At that dirt road, turn right (west) and go approximately 0.5 miles to the Deerlick Astronomy Village en- trance, Star Gate 1. Take the first right onto Grier's Field after passing through SG1. The DAV office is over the knoll.

Deerlick Astronomy Village rules require that visitors must arrive before dark, as white lights are not allowed. For more information, see the group's web site, www. deerlickgroup.com.

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