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Astronomy Day grand-prize winner

Diane Mignogna will share her new Meade LX200R with her family.
Astronomy Day 2007 winners
The Mignogna family and their new Meade telescope at the Carnegie Science Center.
Dan Malerbo
September 6, 2007
Astronomy magazine is proud to announce the Astronomy Day grand-prize winner! Diane Mignogna of Pitcairn, Pennsylvania, received a 10-inch LX200R Advanced Ritchey-Chrétien telescope, donated by Meade 4M. "We are so excited to have won," Mignogna said. "I'm just thrilled."

Astronomy magazine provided Astronomy Day events across the country with magazines and other prizes. In addition to the grand-prize telescope, Meade 4M also donated an ETX-80AT telescope for each participating venue to give away.

Observatories, planetaria, and museums celebrated National Astronomy Day April 21. But the Carnegie Science Center in Pittsburgh put its own spin on the year's biggest star party.

"We celebrate earlier, and ours was an 'Astronomy Weekend,'" said Dan Malerbo, education coordinator at Carnegie's Henry Buhl, Jr. Planetarium and Observatory.

The observatory, in partnership with the Amateur Astronomers Association of Pittsburgh, gave astronomy-lovers the chance to share their passion with the astronomy-curious March 31 and April 1. Experts hosted observing sessions and discussions on the "demotion" of Pluto, space weather, and more. About 4,000 visitors also learned about telescope-making, the Dawn mission to the asteroid belt, and the latest astronomical news.

"The focus is to primarily let people see what astronomy goes on at the science center and in the community," Malerbo said. "We have a very strong astronomy community."

Mignogna attended Astronomy Weekend's indoor party with a group of friends and family. As they were leaving the science center after attending events throughout the day, Mignogna's 13-year-old daughter entered the grand-prize telescope drawing.

Exploring the stars has always been a family interest, Mignogna said, but she has never owned a telescope.

"When I was in college, I would sit in the moonlight in my bedroom and watch the Moon rise," Mignogna said. Her children inherited their mother's interest in the cosmos: Her daughter used to eat over star-chart placemats, and Mignogna remembers her 21-year-old son asking for his own telescope years ago.

Now, Mignogna will share her prize with her children, as well as her brother and mother. "My mom lives in central Pennsylvania, where there are no lights from the city," she said.

Malerbo presented Mignogna with the telescope, a one-year subscription to Astronomy magazine, and other gifts from Astronomy August 28 at the Carnegie Science Center in Pittsburgh.
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