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From Jeff Whisenant...
Bobfest Report 2012

BoBFest draws crowd of stargazers
Saturday, Jan 21 2012, 9:00 pm

Rebecca Clark
Bob Eskridge remembers getting his first telescope many years ago.

Long before that, he was already interested in the stars and planets and other heavenly bodies.

“I got the bug,” Eskridge said.

That passion for learning eventually transformed into what is now tagged as the “BoBFest.”

Each year, astronomers from all over the south with all levels of expertise congregate at Gardner-Webb University for the regional meeting of amateur astronomers.

On Saturday, the event held its 20th annual meeting.

Hosted by the Cleveland County Astronomical Society and held at Gardner-Webb University, star-enthusiasts learn more about their passion from the experts.

Speakers, who volunteer their time free of charge, cover topics such as how to build a sundial, or present information on light pollution and the extra solar planets.

Don Brooks, president of the Cleveland County Astronomical Society, said there was a good turn-out this year despite the rain and fog.

Brooks said around 120 people showed up and came from as far away as Georgia and Tennessee to Virginia and South Carolina.

He said the vendor for the event came from New York.

This year, Brooks said he has even seen a few new faces.

Typically, he said, the hobby is popular among the older generation.

Not only is the event a learning opportunity but it allows people with the same hobby to get together each year.

“You meet friends you haven’t seen in awhile,” Brooks said.

Twenty years ago, Tom English, a GWU professor, and Eskridge decided to start the event.

Eskridge, who is a former president of the Cleveland County Astronomical Society, said he helped English with the astronomy labs and was involved in various clubs around the area.

The two decided to host their own event to get astronomers together to share information and learn more about their passion.

It has since grown into the event it its today.

For more information on astronomy in Cleveland County, visit the Cleveland County Astronomical Society’s Facebook page. The CCAS meets the fourth Thursday of the month at the Gardner-Webb University observatory.

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