|2013-4-04: Eatonville Dispatch: Starry Hill keeps eyes on the skies ⬅︎ |
|Every night is star light, star bright at Starry Hill, weather permitting.
The observatory in the Eatonville area was built and is operated by Tom and Gracie Pauly as a non-profit,
organization for children and families to experience and learn about astronomy as the couple's guests.
parties,' as they call
them, are scheduled by appointment and free of charge. All participants need is a fascination with what
see in the night
sky and with the aid of telescopes.
The Paulys are retired teachers -- Tom from the Puyallup School District, where he taught earth science,
Gracie from the
Tacoma School District, where she taught elementary students. The remote acreage... has a sweeping
and Mount Rainier. At night, it has 'dark skies,' free of manmade light that's incompatible with the prime
stargazing Starry Hill
They built the observatory and an adjoining planetarium for others as much or more than for themselves.
gracious hosts are thrilled when they see kids awestruck by the assortment of heavenly bodies they see
telescopes often for the first time, 'We just enjoy it so much,' Gracie said.
She and Tom are also fond of saying that they aren't the story in Starry Hill, that the place and its
fun-filled focus are
what it's all about.... So here's the story as they prefer it to be told:
The planetarium and observatory can be scheduled by school teachers and other leaders of youth
star parties by
going online at starryhill.org. Scheduling tip: Late-summer dates, when the sky is usually at its eye-
clearest, are going
The planetarium has theater-style seating for between 24 and 32 adults and/or children for watching
on the 20-foot, dome-shaped screen. The shows are similar to dome-style presentations of virtual
that might be seen
in commercial settings, but are customized for Starry Hill groups. The planetarium became a necessity
as Tom notes, 'the
observatory wasn't enough with all the overcast nights we have.'.
Inside the observatory is an electric-operated, high-powered, camera-equipped telescope that points
retractable dome is opened and snaps 'astrophotos.' Outside, a viewing platform is where portable
are set up for
lessons in the daytime on how to use them. After darkness falls and the Milky Way emerges, budding
astronomers search for
Polaris (aka the North Star), galaxies and star clusters. They can have printed Starry Hill 'passports'
each specific star
and galaxy they track down.
(Article excerpt from the Eatonville Dispatch. Used with permission