Seaside Cinema Star Party

Article by Kevin Kawai 

This summer, AES Seaside Cinema, Redondo Beach, California, hosted a series of free movie nights for the community to enjoy, and the best part was that these events may have been the first outdoor solar-powered movie event ever held. Imagine watching movies on the grass and sand knowing that the projector consisted only of "green technology" using energy supplied by our own Sun! For four consecutive Friday evenings, family oriented movies such as "Back to the Future" (July 23rd), "Surf's Up" (July 30th), "The Sandlot" (August 6th) and "School of Rock" (August 13th), played to hundreds and hundreds of excited families and especially to the kids.

Earlier this spring, Scott Williams and Tom Kearney, the men behind AES Seaside Cinema and Seaside Ice, asked if Celestron would be interested to become involved in this special project and conduct a star party for guests at the August 6th movie screening. Celestron already had a great working relationship with their organziation from a successful outdoor ice skating/star party last winter, so after checking the schedule and finding enough resources, Celestron quickly came on board. In addition, Celestron donated an Anniversary FirstScope and a computerized 114LCM telescope for the raffle prizes. Tickets for the special prizes were sold at each movie night for $10 per ticket with all proceeds benefiting the Redondo Beach Education Foundation, with AES matching all ticket sales revenues.

Celestron Repair Technicians, Hector Antuna and Flavio Dominguez, accompanied me to Seaside Cinema for the movie and star party. We brought along several telescopes and products for guests to enjoy including a CPC 800, a NexStar 6SE, AstroMaster 70AZ and a SkyScout to demonstrate. We also distributed telescope catalogs, pens and posters at our booth, which the kids really enjoyed. Prior to the start of the movie, Tom informed the audience of the raffle drawings and star party. Both Hector and I were introduced to the crowds as we took turns on the microphone and discussed the various celestial objects that would be visible that evening. The Redondo Beach Education Foundation then drew the luck winner for the Anniversary FirstScope. The 114LCM would be drawn one week later. Even before the raffle drawing concluded, Southern California's notorious marine layer roared into the coastal city and blanketed the area in a blink of an eye. With many disappointed guests so eager to view Saturn (ourselves included), we could only do the next best thing and use the telescopes as spotting scopes to view the Palos Verdes coastline and various terrestrial targets. Of course, it was also fun to demonstrate how the computerized telescopes worked and let the kids "drive" the telescopes with the hand controls.

AES Seaside Cinema Nights proved to be a fun filled way for the community to spend quality time with friends and family while watching cool movies and learning something new about science and space under the stars or in our case, clouds. Even though, money was raised for a great cause. We'll see what other cool events both Scott and Tom can come up with during this holiday season.

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