Stargazers young and old, newcomers, experienced and inexperienced celestial enthusiasts are invited to several free star parties this weekend hosted by the Central Texas Astronomical Society, a volunteer group dedicated to sharing its passion for astronomy.
On the third Saturday of each month, CTAS hosts an open house at its Meyer Observatory and Turner Research Station, 14801 FM 182 in Clifton, between Gatesville and Waco. The event includes a short program, tour of the observatory and, weather permitting, viewings of the night sky with portable telescopes and live images from the 24-inch Meyer telescope.
Open house is always held even if sky conditions are not suitable for viewing, unless severe weather requires closing the facility for safety reasons.Visitors are strongly encouraged to use the map and directions from the group’s website, as electronic maps for the remote location are not always reliable.
Along with the observatory open house, there is a Bell County Star Party on Saturday at Overlook Park on Stillhouse Hollow Reservoir in Belton, a Hubbard Star Party at Hubbard Lake Park and a Waco Star Party at Heritage Square in downtown Waco.
Go to www.centexastronomy.org for more information, including a public events calender, schedule and registration.
Memberships to CTAS are available, and the public events are free, but donations are always accepted. Visitors are invited but not required to bring their own binoculars and telescopes to the star parties.
Meanwhile, for a different kind of summertime fun a little closer to home, the city of Killeen’s Family Aquatics Center features an array of water-filled activities including a 10,350-square-foot multi-use pool, 2,180-square-foot bath house, 25-meter lap pool, three water slides, a bowl slide, shade shelters, spray grounds and tot slide.
The center at 1800 E. Stan Schlueter Loop is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays; 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, through Aug. 17. It is closed Mondays. Day passes, season passes and facility rentals are available. For more information, contact the city of Killeen.
Long Branch Park Pool in Killeen is also open Tuesday through Sunday from June 1 through Aug. 17, and then weekends through Sept. 2.
In Lampasas, Hancock Springs Free Flow Pool is one of the last free-flowing spring-fed pools in Texas with water staying at a cool 69 degrees, no matter how hot it gets outside. The spring is at Hancock Park, Highway 281 South in Lampasas. Adult admission fee is $3.50 per day and seniors and children are $2.50. The pool is open Thursday-Saturday from noon to 7 p.m. and Sunday from 1 to 6 p.m.
Hanna Springs Pool, a 7,000-square-foot facility at 501 E. North Ave. in Lampasas, includes a bath house with showers, restrooms and dressing areas. Hours are Tuesday through Saturday noon-7 p.m., and Sunday 1-6 p.m. Closed Monday.
Belton Lake Outdoor and Recreation Center, at the intersection of North Nolan Road and Cottage Road, has a number of activities for families to enjoy. Camping sites, picnic pavilions, horseback riding trails, hiking, mountain biking as well as a man-made beach complete with a downhill water slide and more are available. Military patrons pay $3 per car; all others are $10 per vehicle. Visit hood.armymwr.com for more information.
For some indoor entertainment, head on over to Central Texas College’s Mayborn Science Theater and its ongoing lineup of new weekday matinees, classic movie showings and Laser Friday presentations. Saturday matinees run all day, and weekday matinees are on Wednesdays. Classic Movie Night is the third Friday of every month at 5:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $5 per person, per show. For complete show descriptions, directions, membership information and more, visit starsatnight.org.
Fort Hood’s Apache Arts and Crafts Center is open Tuesday through Saturday for those interested in do-it-yourself projects, including picture frames, ceramics and ceramics birthday parties for kids. Contact MWR for more information.
For the more athletically-inclined, Killeen’s Urban Air Trampoline and Adventure Park offers a variety of high-flying attractions.
With almost too many activities to mention all in one place, the complex at 2102 Jennifer Drive, between West Jasper Drive and Highway 190, includes not only trampoline-jumping, but such things as a Sky Rider indoor coaster, ropes course, climbing walls, obstacle course, tubes playground, trapeze, dodgeball and slam dunk zone. For more information on the park, go to www.urbanairtrampolinepark.com/locations/texas/killeen.