Ron Royer, who’s a world renowned astrophotographer and astronomer joined Nancy Bruce, who’s a Director of Circle J Ranch in Springville, to Tulare County Office of Education’s Astronomy Night on Friday.

The evening started at dusk just as some of the planets were coming into view, notably Jupiter, which is the largest, that can be easily seen without a telescope.

Royer who hosts his own star parties at his observatory in Springville helped adults and children learn about using three modern telescopes at the ranch and showed them how to adjust them so they could see both stars and planets.

“A telescope is really a giant funnel for light,” said Royer, “and it takes the light and magnifies it so we can see into the night sky.

“Jupiter is the brightest thing in the sky right now. There are three moons on its left and one moon on it’s right.” 

Royer asked everyone to see the moons and asked which moon was the brightest. Looking through the telescope the middle moon on the left was brightest.

It was a fascinating evening those who participated; some families with children, and other adults participated in astronomy night. The Mustin family traveled from Visalia, Jennifer and Brad, with their 10-year-old twins, Ella and Cade. They were having a wonderful time learning about the night sky.

Mercury and Venus are warmer planets because they’re closer to the sun, explained Royer, while Jupiter and Saturn are cold because they are farther from the sun. Saturn is east of Jupiter in the sky, he said. At night if you look closely stars blink and planets don’t.

Delia Martinez was looking at the stars and using her cell phone to track the planets and stars using a star chart app. “I love the stars,” she said. 

Royer pointed out the star constellation of Scorpius to everyone, and pointed to the stars Ceres and Antares. Antares is a reddish orange star.

Bruce explained about the star constellations in the sky, Scorpius and Orion, about how they’re never in the sky at the same time, using a fable about the goddess Artemis and Orion, and telling how Orion angered her, and was bitten by a scorpion, died, and became a constellation of stars. Scorpius is in the summer sky, and Orion can be seen in the winter sky. 

As it got darker, and darker, and the stars came out more, between 8:45 and 9:30 the children kept seeing shooting stars, which were magical. Shooting stars are meteors. And Bruce showed the children and adults a piece of a meteor which was given to her. 

Everyone was enjoying themselves, and Bruce allowed them to hold the small piece of meteor, which was surprisingly heavy. When asked what it was made of, she said, “It is iron and nickel.”

After seeing multiple shooting stars, the children asked about

The Milky Way, which you could see overhead. It looked like a faintly hazy long and wide, with large patch of stars that you can see easily if there’s no light around. 

Bruce explained the Milky Way is at the edge of our Galaxy.


“I think it is very neat that we get to see all of the designs on the planets. I got to see the stripes on Jupiter and I got to see Jupier’s moons. There were four moons. One on the right, and three on the left. And I also saw Scorpio,” said Ella.

“There was a story that Nancy Bruce from Circle J Ranch told us. It was about Orion and Artemis, the goddess of the hunt. And I also got to see three shooting stars, and we also saw the Milky Way.”

Her brother Cade, was also really excited, and said, “It was nice to see the stars, and I had a lot of fun, and so did Ella.”

“We had a really good time,” said their mother, Jennifer.


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