Community colleges often describe themselves as open-door institutions, meaning admission is denied to no one wanting more education.
The Community College of Baltimore County's Star Parties take that open door philosophy to a whole new level by opening doors to the universe.
Fans of the Benjamin Banneker Planetarium on the college's Catonsville campus may be interested in venturing east to Dundalk this fall for these star parties.
Held at the outdoor observatory on the college's Dundalk campus, the star-gazing gatherings offer skywatchers the chance to gaze into outer space through a powerful Celestron 14-inch CGE 1400 XLT telescope.
The gatherings are free and no tickets or reservations are required, according to a statement from college officials.
Fall Star Parties will be held Sept. 6 and 27 and Oct. 11 and 25 from 8 to 10 p.m. and Nov. 8 from 7 to 9 p.m.
The observatory can be reached by making the first possible right on the campus after entering from Sollers Point Road.
In case of bad weather, call 443-840-3486 no earlier than 45 minutes before the show to see if it will be held.
The fall schedule is as follows:
Sept. 7, 10 a.m. — "Cosmic Encounters"
"View the effects of encounters of dark matter, regular matter and dark energy in the early universe, the interactions of material in the early solar system, the interactions of stars in multiple star systems, the merging of galaxies and the collisions of meteors and comets with the Earth."
Oct. 26, 10 a.m. — "Space Witch"
"Follow Tilly Ipswitch, the Queen of Halloween, and her cat Kit as they zoom past planets and stars in search of children elsewhere in the universe."
Nov. 9, 10 a.m. — "Endless Horizons"
"Experience the sequence of discovery from prehistoric times through the trips of Columbus, Cook, Lewis and Clark and Darwin and on to the flights of the Wright brothers and astronauts."
Dec. 7, 10 a.m. — "Christmas Traveler"
"Follow a Christmas tree doll that comes to life and travels around the world searching for her favorite colors. The sky from the North Pole looks different and changes in a different way to the sky from the equator and especially the sky from the South Pole. Even more can be seen from out in space, where those favorite colors show up."
All planetarium shows are free and open to the public. No tickets or reservations are needed.