Pelham Reads stargazing event gives Pelhamites view of real world of space

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Constellation Stations encircled Gazebo Park as people learned to use telescopes in another area. Children ran around laughing with glow sticks, and parents chatted.

This was the stargazing event for Pelham Reads, the every-other-year literary event that this year is focused on “Hidden Figures: The Untold True Story of Four African-American Women Who Helped Launch Our Nation Into Space” by Margot Lee Shetterly. Held Saturday, stargazing was for anyone age five and up at the Gazebo Park and Daronco Town House.

At the beginning, State Sen. Alessandra Biaggi said a few words in which she expressed her support for the event and the Pelham community. Then, a few people sang songs having to do with space or light. After that, everyone was free to do what they wanted at the event. There were Constellation Stations at the edge of the park, telescopes to see the stars and planets in the back and a planetarium inside the Town House—where there was also cider and doughnuts.

“Everyone has a light, and it’s really important to share that light with one another,” said Biaggi. “I view this light as a metaphor for our gifts. The women in ‘Hidden Figures’ were brilliant mathematicians whose mathematical genius lit the way to land a man on the moon and bring that mission home. Imagine what would be possible in this world, if each of us shared our light. It would be stunning.”

Each Constellation Station was themed for a specific constellation, with a few fun facts about the constellation and a model of the constellation made with electric candles. In another part of the park, there were three different types of telescopes set up. This program was lead by Bob Kelly, who said he loves astronomy and that it is his hobby. Those who tried the telescopes were able to see different types of stars and planets with their own eyes.

“I always love looking up at the sky, but there were too many lights where I lived,” said Kelly. “When I first saw Jupiter with my telescope, everything changed. I look at the stars as a hobby, and I love sharing this love with everybody.”

Inside the Town House, astronomy educator Linda Woodward used the planetarium from the Pelham School District to project different constellations.

“I love to share my love of astronomy,” Woodward said. “I love doing this and being able to use (the Planetarium), this amazing piece of technology supported by the school district.”

Pelham Reads happens every other year under the sponsorship of the Town of Pelham Public Library, the Pelham Picture House, the Friends of Town of Pelham Public Library and the Pelham Art Center. It is a community-wide celebration of stories told through art, literature and film, with “Hidden Figures” being the book chosen this year.

“Hidden Figures” is the true story of four African-American women whose calculations helped fuel some of America’s greatest achievements in space including putting a man on the moon and bringing him back to Earth.