Stargazing At The
Buehler Planetarium And Observatory
Survey the Night Sky
The Buehler Planetarium and Observatory in Davie is a great resource for Fort Lauderdale area locals who like gazing skywards.
The two buildings located at the Central Broward College campus (just behind the admissions hall), are small and look unimpressive. When we went there one balmy August night, I was afraid that there wouldn’t be a lot of spectators and not much to see.
We missed the 7 pm planetarium show by 15 minutes so we came back about an hour later when the sky was heading towards complete blackness and stars were beginning to come out.
Because we live in a big city, there’s quite a bit of light pollution so we won’t see a whole blanket of stars when all the lights in our buildings and homes and cars are turned on. (The last time we saw a ton of stars in the sky in the Fort Lauderdale area was after Hurricane Wilma and many people, including us, were out of electrical power for weeks. But that’s a different story.)
When we arrived back at the observatory, the large telescopes were being rolled out on the concrete viewing area. There were already about half a dozen people waiting for their turn to look up at the stars.
Our star guide at the Buehler Planetarium and Observatory was already busy answering questions on space, giving quick demonstrations on the earth’s rotation around the sun, time, and adjusting telescopes as the earth we stood on rotated away and lost sight of the stars.
From the first two telescopes we saw gleaming, pulsating dots from the viewfinder, a light blue and a pale yellow in color.
The girls were ready to go home after several minutes looking through the telescopes but then we took a quick peek inside the observatory building with its eerie, red light glowing from its doors. It’s one large room with equipment, and off to the side is a locked door that led up to the observatory tower.
The public can’t access the tower (only for the professionals) but the two computers in the room showed actual images taken from the observatory’s super powerful telescope. You can see these images at www.ilovestars.com.
A third telescope was rolled out and positioned facing east. It was around 9 pm and I noticed that more people, some couples and some with children, started streaming onto the observatory viewing area.
After waiting my turn, I looked through the viewfinder (that I thought was just pointing at an oak tree) and surprised to see a striped, glowing spot the size of a pea with two bright stars aligned just below it.
Jupiter! With two of its four moons!
The color remained grey and white for me but the girls swore they detected a faint orange glow on the planet. We stayed a while longer, scanning the night sky with our naked eyes, viewed through the first two telescopes again and I wondered at that big, vast unknown above us that have fascinated humans for as far back as anyone can remember.
Stargazing at the Buehler Planetarium and Observatory is fun, low-key and TV-free, and just may spark a love of the stars in the young ones.
Check it out ...
Buehler Planetarium and Observatory
At the A.Hugh Adams Central Campus
Broward Community College
3501 Davie Rd,
Davie, FL 33314-1604
Price for the planetarium show is $5 per person. Observatory viewing is free, 8-10 pm on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. Go to the Buehler Planetarium and Observatory websites to double check times and prices.
For more stargazing opportunities, there is also the Fox Observatory at Markham Park with the South Florida Amateur Astronomers Association www.sfaaa.com
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