Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Historical Museum uses air balloon; Skywatchers at New Quarter Park April 28


Historical Museum uses air balloon to mimic Civil War reconnaissance
Residents and visitors in the Historic Yorktown area on April 7 and 8 may have noticed a curious site in the skies over the Marlbank community – what appeared to be a UFO.
Actually, the object was a hot air balloon launched as part of an aerial photography project being undertaken jointly by the York County Civil War Sesquicentennial Committee and the York County Historical Museum.
Hot air balloons were used in the American Civil War for aerial reconnaissance. Using known local Civil War balloon launch sites, this project was meant to capture aerial photographs of the Yorktown area to give Civil War enthusiasts and visitors a perspective on what those early aeronauts may have seen from their balloons. The launches were done almost 150 years to the day after balloon launches were undertaken here during the Civil War.
The photographs will be part of a larger exhibit at the Yorktown Battlefield on May 26, when retired Army Officer and professional balloon pilot Kevin Knapp will share separate presentations on how balloons were used for observation and surveillance by both the North and South. His presentations will include a complete history of balloon operations from their first appearance in 1861 to the end of the Balloon Corps in 1863 and will place special emphasis on balloon operations during the Peninsula Campaign of 1862.
For more information on this or any other Sesquicentennial Committee or Historical Museum project, call 890-3508 or visit


NASA Skywatchers at New Quarter Park on April 28
The NASA/Langley Exchange Skywatchers astronomy club will be setting up their telescopes at New Quarter Park on Saturday, April 28 from 9 to 11 p.m.
The public is invited to view celestial objects through club member's equipment and the moon can also be viewed well through high-quality binoculars. In addition to the moon, expect to glimpse the planets Venus, Mars, and Saturn. The astronomers occasionally adjust their scopes to other interesting celestial objects such as star clusters, so visitors should stop at each astronomer's telescope to see what's visible.
Visitors are welcome to arrive 30 minutes early, at 8:30 p.m. to talk to the astronomers about astronomy and their telescopes before it is fully dark. Scout leaders should call ahead to discuss using the venue to earn merit badges.
            New Quarter Park is located at 1000 Lakeshead Drive between the Queen's Lake neighborhood and Cheatham Annex. From the Colonial Parkway, exit at Queen's Lake and turn right at the end of the exit ramp. Travel a short distance to Lakeshead Drive. Follow this road into the park. From Interstate 64, take exit 242, Route 199 toward Jamestown, then take the first exit on Route 143 west. Turn right on Penniman Road, travel one block, and then turn left on Hubbard Lane. Travel toward Queens Lake and turn right on Lakeshead Drive. Follow this road into the Park. Please dim your vehicle lights when approaching the skywatching area.
For more information, call York County Parks and Recreation at 757-890-3513 (Monday through Thursday) or the New Quarter Park office (Friday through Sunday) at 757-890-5840.

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