2017-07-27 / Front Page

Channel 12’s news team gets a tour of DAV, shoots hours of video for future broadcast


Photo by DAN LLEWELLYN Photo by DAN LLEWELLYN WRDW news anchor Laura Warren recently took a News 12/26 film crew to Deerlick Astronomy Village (DAV) to investigate the operation. Village co-founder and CEO Chris Hetlage arranged the visit and conducted the grand tour, having enlisted volunteer astronomers to demonstrate the many aspects of the hobby.

Their first stop was Grier Field, the 11-acre general member viewing area. DAV has just added four additional concrete viewing pads to the existing three pads in order to accommodate the growing number of observers.

The new observing pads will be wired for electricity as are the existing pads, the camper spaces, and the RV hook-ups. In addition, the three bath houses will be equipped with new water heaters to facilitate campers. The rustic warm-up shed, the spacious pavilion, the recently completed Atlanta Astronomy Club member observatory, and the AAC Club House all add up to make an impressive facility.

Channel 12 news visited Deerlick Astronomy Village recently. Channel 12 news visited Deerlick Astronomy Village recently. From the main observing field, Hetlage escorted the news crew to the private housing area where 23 of 26 properties have been purchased by avid astronomy hobbyists. Dan Llewellyn treated them to safe views of the Sun with his solar telescope, inviting them to return after dark for night-time sky views.

Dan Ford provided a tour of his state-of-the-art, fully automated and computer-controlled observatory. He showed News 12 how he captures long exposures by having his telescope rotate in synchronous motion to the Earth’s rotation, then uses his computer to compile, or stack, many exposures to produce near-Hubble-like images.

The roll-off roof design proved interesting to Warren, as did the “dog house” design of Marie Lott’s observatory. While Ford’s roof slides aside to expose the sky, Lott’s whole building moves on automated rails to expose the telescope. Lott has a different type of scope, so for her, the dog-house is a more effective style. Warren appeared impressed with Lott, a skilled and knowledgeable astronomer in a male-dominated hobby.

Returning to Llewellyn’s observatory for live night sky observing, the visitors were “wowed” with live views of Jupiter and Saturn. Llewellyn said his 6-inch refractor “blew them out of the water” and they were mesmerized by the color, clarity, and fidelity of the planetary views.

The coup de grâce was the crew’s naked-eye introduction to the Milky Way. Like 95 percent of the world’s population, they’d never seen the wide swatch of stars that rises like a cloud from the south and arches across the heavens.

By the time Warren and her film crew left, they had captured almost four hours of material, which will be compiled and edited for a future broadcast. Broadcast details will be reported as they become available.

To learn more about Deerlick Astronomy Village, go to www.deerlickgroup.com. DAV will have its next open house in the fall.

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