The Pebble Hill Plantation Field Learning Center will host a book review of Astronomy is Heavenly by local author Randy Rhea. Sessions are open to the public and will be held from 7-9pm on October 4, 11 and 18, 2022. Each evening covers a section of the book with informal questions and discussion moderated by the author. Weather permitting, each session is followed by a brief view of the skies from Sunrise Field adjacent to the Pebble Hill Learning Center.
Rhea said: “Modern automotive technology discourages the shade tree mechanic. Today, astronomy shares this fate. But an appreciation for astronomy and the heavens can be learned without advanced math and science.
The program will cover astronomy from pre-scientific beginnings to current discoveries. What have Copernicus, Galileo, Newton and Hubble taught us? What was so shocking about Einstein’s theories? How do we measure the distance to the stars? Did you know that a method for measuring the distance to galaxies was discovered in 1912 by Henrietta Leavitt who at the time was not allowed to use her institution’s telescope? Did you know that twin Suns like those seen from the planet Tatooine in Star Wars are common? Have you seen the planet Mercury? It’s easy if you know when and where to look.
The Pebble Hill program will cover these fun facts and more. You’ll learn about stars, gravity, relativity, telescopes, how the skies move, our solar system, space travel, the big bang (it’s not what you think), the expansion of the universe, black holes, dark matter and energy, the Hubble and James Webb space telescopes, and yes, UFOs.
“There are many telescopes that are much larger than the James Webb Space Telescope,” Rhea shares. “Why is this so important? We’ll discuss how to continue to develop your ability to understand the skies and find fun things to see in the skies. You will learn how to answer your friend’s question “what was that bright star at sunset last night?”
Rhea first became interested in astronomy while falling asleep in a lawn chair under the dark skies of central Illinois. Back then, there were no street lights in small towns and the night sky was heavenly. In 1959, Rhea purchased a three-inch Edmund Scientific “Space Conqueror” telescope for $29.95 with money he earned mowing yards. Despite the rickety mounts of telescopes, with practice he saw Jupiter’s four Galilean moons, Saturn’s rings, the great Orion Nebula, and watched the planet Mercury transit the Sun in 1960. In 1996, his budget had grown and he bought the observatory from the University of Denver. on Mount Evans, Colorado, and moved it to Rhea’s cabin in the mountains of northern New Mexico.
Rhea holds engineering degrees from the University of Illinois and Arizona State University. He worked for Boeing Company, Goodyear Aerospace and Scientific Atlanta before founding Eagleware-Elanix and Noble Publishing in Atlanta. Rhea is the author of five engineering textbooks and technical articles in numerous trade journals. He has given seminars to more than a thousand engineers at the Georgia Institute of Technology and at exhibitions and companies in the United States, Europe and Asia. He also has experience lecturing on astronomy to a more general audience. Rhea currently writes a monthly astronomy column for the Thomasville Times Enterprise. He and his wife Marilynn moved from Atlanta to Susina Plantation in 2001 and then to Thomasville. They have two children and five grandchildren.
The public can sign up for Astronomy is Heavenly book review sessions and stargazing at Pebble Hill by visiting https://pebble-hill-plantation.ticketleap.com/. The sessions are open to all, adults and children from 12 years old accompanied by a parent. The rate for each session is $10/adult and $5/child (12-17 years old). Those interested can buy tickets for individual sessions or for all three sessions. Registrants are encouraged to purchase a copy of the book Astronomy is Heavenly in order to participate in class discussions and lessons by reading a few chapters of the book before each session. The purchase of the book is not necessary, but recommended.
Astronomy Is Celestial is available at the library at 126 S. Broad Street in downtown Thomasville, (229) 228-7767, www.bookshelfthomasville.com Thomas County Libraries in Thomasville and Pavo have copies that can be borrowed for the program, as does the Roddenberry Library in Cairo.
For more information, visit the Pebble Hill website www.pebblehill.comcall 229-226-2344 or visit us on Facebook and Instagram using @pebblehillplantation.