FEBRUARY 24, 2016

JAMESTOWN, N.C. — Guilford Technical Community College will host its annual astronomy festival, TriStar, March 4-5 on its Jamestown Campus. The event gathers astronomy enthusiasts, from novice to professional, for a full day of lectures, displays and observing. It is free and open to the public.

Patrick Miller

Patrick Miller

TriStar kicks off at 7 p.m. Friday, March 4 with a lecture, “Asteroid Threats to Earth: How You Can Make Discoveries!” by Dr. Patrick Miller, professor of mathematics at Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene, Texas. Miller appears at TriStar through the Harlow Shapley Visiting Lectureship Program of the American Astronomical Society, a program that provides two-day visits by professional astronomers who bring the excitement of modern astronomy and astrophysics to North American colleges of all types, especially those not offering an astronomical degree. Miller also teaches astronomy at community colleges and universities at the undergraduate and graduate level and conducts astronomy research methods courses at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and National Radio Astronomy Observatory.

The AAS Shapley Lecture will be held at Percy H. Sears Applied Technologies Center auditorium on the Jamestown Campus, 601 E. Main St., Jamestown. After the lecture, Cline Observatory will be open for observing, weather permitting.

TriStar continues 8:30 a.m.–5 p.m. Saturday, March 5 with the following lectures:

9:30 a.m. “Robotic Observing: Challenging Established Dogma”: Dr. Peter Prendergast, a retired medical doctor and science and technology enthusiast, will present an overview of the details involved in constructing and calibrating a home observatory and using it to take photographs of the heavens.

11 a.m. “The Influence of Planets and Brown Dwarfs on Late Stellar Evolution”:  Dr. Brad Barlow, assistant professor of astrophysics at High Point University, will discuss how close-orbiting planets affect the life cycles of stars and present his research efforts to observe these effects.

2 p.m. “Debris Fields in the Solar System”: AAS Shapley Lecturer Dr. Patrick Miller will give a tour of the small bodies in the solar system and describe their importance in the solar system’s history.

3:30 p.m. “Killer Death Rocks from Outer Space”: Michael Solontoi, assistant professor of physics and astronomy at Lynchburg College, will discuss how the Earth lives in a busy part of the solar system and can sometimes be impacted by a host of small rocky and icy bodies that orbit near Earth.

In addition, TriStar will feature a wide range of demonstrations and displays, prize drawings, “how-to” help for astronomy beginners and an astroimaging contest. A solar observing session also will be held (weather permitting) 12:30-1:30 p.m. outside the Applied Technologies Center, and Cline Observatory will be open for a brief viewing session (weather permitting) 7-9 p.m.

For a complete schedule of events, please visit

For more information, please contact Tom English, professor of astronomy at GTCC and director of Cline Observatory, at or 334-4822 ext. 50023.


WHAT:  GTCC presents TriStar, an annual astronomy festival featuring lectures, displays and observing sessions.

WHEN: 7 p.m. Friday, March 4: AAS Shapley Lecture “Asteroid Threats to Earth: How You Can Make Discoveries!” by Dr. Patrick Miller of Hardin-Simmons University 

9:30 a.m.–5 p.m. Saturday, March 5 (doors open at 8:30 a.m.): A wide range of lectures, demonstrations, displays and observing sessions (weather permitting)

WHERE: All events will take place at the Percy H. Sears Applied Technologies Center, Jamestown Campus, 601 E. Main St., Jamestown

ADMISSION: Free and open to the public



Guilford Technical Community College is the fourth largest of 58 institutions in the NC Community College System. GTCC serves more than 40,000 students annually from five campuses and a Small Business Center. Learn more at


— Jana Carver/GTCC