Happy New Year and thank you Longview!
We had a great turnout for Longview's second annual Solstice Lantern Walk through the Solar System on December 21.
We didn't have a full moon this year, but we did have tacos!
We brightened the longest night, celebrated the return of longer days, and met great people. Here are some highlights.
The rain cleared up just in time for the Walk. We estimate that 400 people walked part or all of the 3.7 billion miles from the Sun, at the south end of Lake Sacajawea to Pluto, at the north end. Couples, individuals, families, and pets had a great time - many dressed up with lanterns and lights. We had at least one couple drive up from Portland just to participate.
Our route followed the Solar System Walk given to the City of Longview by the Friends of Galileo Astronomy Club in 2001. The walk is a series of granite markers showing the relative distances between the Sun and the planets - it's our solar system, scaled down to Lake Sacajawea. The markers follow the path on the west side of Lake Sacajawea, over 1.64 miles.
Map of Solar System Walk
We had passports for people to take to each planet and get it stamped. Thank you to Laval for the terrific passport design. Thank you to Pat and Michelle at Copies Today/Speedy Litho for donating the printing for our passports. They looked great!
The planets were lit up in a small way or in a big way. Kids got candy at several planets and people got to know some of the great clubs in our community.
* * * * * If you walked the whole Solar System (3.7 billion miles!), you saw:
The Sun - Friends of Galileo Astronomy Club started off the event with lanterns and passports and candy for the kids. FoG has monthly meetings (details below), sidewalk astronomy, star parties, and our annual overnight event at Mount St. Helens.
Mercury - Kelso Freemasons Lodge #94 has been part of Kelso for over 125 years! Come by for a coffee on a Saturday morning and find out about the historic building and a centuries-old fraternity (204 S. Pacific Ave, Kelso).
Venus - Girl Scouts of Western Washington brought cookies to Venus again. Keep an eye out for their new location on Commerce Ave. Opening soon - but the Girl Scouts are active now!
Earth - Three Rivers Christian School is a new sponsor this year. What a great job - they cleaned up in the online votes and the students did a huge amount of work. Their teepee lanterns were especially cool.
Santa Claus - Did you see him on his travels along the solar system? Ho ho ho!
Mars - Shinju Dojo Aikido Martial Arts School was our first planet sponsor! A lot of people were interested to hear about a resource for adults and teens to grow their self confidence and become who they are meant to be. Learn self defense in a friendly, low-impact, non-competitive atmosphere right here in Longview.
Planet Taco - Thank you, La Familia Taqueria, for joining us with your food truck. Their tacos were great, and helped fortify people during their billion-mile walk.
La Familia Taqueria
Jupiter - Longview Freemasons Lodge #263 - Our most generous donor. Thank you, Masons! They have been making good men better for centuries. Longview Lodge will celebrate its first century the year after Longview does. Find out more at their Thursday breakfasts (823 7th Ave, Longview, about 8:00 am).
Saturn - Kelso-Longview Elks, Lodge #1482. The Elks are another new sponsor this year. They did a great job. Did you see Saturn and its rings hanging from the trees?
Uranus - The Boy Scouts of America, Cascade Pacific Council didn't just have a good set up and interesting information about their planet ("12 Facts About Uranus"!), they added s'mores and a warming tent! Both were very welcome at that point in the walk.
This year, the Boy Scouts upped their game. Our long-term goal is to line the whole route - 1.64 miles - with luminarias to mark the path. The Boy Scouts themselves covered 0.6 miles, more than one third the route. With the other planets, we covered more than half the distance from Sun to Pluto. We did this in our second year, and mostly due to the Boy Scouts. Wow!
Sacajawea - Amtgard, Shire of Mithril Hills, is another new sponsor. Amtgard is a LARP, a live-action role playing group. Swords, shields, spells - come watch them practice or better yet, join in! They practice at noon on Sundays in Lexington Park.
Amtgard Mithril Hills
Neptune - Even with TWO astronomy clubs involved in this event, the Mount St. Helens Hiking Club was the only one to bring along a telescope - two years in a row. Plus, they gave out some amazing taffy this year.
Comet Swift-Tuttle - New sponsor Columbia River Reader brightened up the outer solar system, and handed out very cool fidget spinners.
Pluto - Rose City Astronomers came all the way from Portland to set up at the far end of the solar system. Check out their calendar of events next time you're in Portland.
Two Space Shuttles!
This year we had not one but two space shuttles driving between the Sun and Pluto for those unable to walk the round trip. Phil Sari of Columbia Ford generously loaned us the vans. Thank you, Phil, and thank you drivers Ron and Kevin!
Thank you also...
Thank you, Emiley for loaning us canopies from Youth and Family Link, for the space shuttles and for some of our sponsors.
Thank you, Joe Hotai, for permission to use your photos. It was great to meet you!
Judging the planets
Our judges Marin, Ava and Noel walked the whole route and judged each planet on these criteria:
We will announce the winner of the Out of This World Award and the People's Choice Award (thank you, online voters) at our next club meeting (details below).
* * * * * Most of all, thank you everyone who came out for the event!
You got a chance to meet some of the terrific people here in Longview and to learn about local clubs.
Do you want another Solstice Lantern Walk in 2020?
Come to the next meeting of Friends of Galileo Astronomy Club and help make it happen.
7:00 PM, Wednesday, January 15, 2020
Mark Morris High School
Large Group Instructional Center (enter west side)
Directions and map on our About page
Happy New Year!
Friends of Galileo Astronomy Club
Friends of Galileo
We are astronomy enthusiasts who love to learn and to share our wonder at the amazing sights right overhead.