40 Years of “Party With the Stars”

A "Party With the Stars" program in 2008Along with the Columbia Public Library’s centennial, the Daniel Boone Regional Library is celebrating the 40th year of the program “Party With the Stars” hosted by Val Germann of the Central Missouri Astronomical Association. Since its beginning in 1982, we estimate that “Party With the Stars” has attracted about 10,000 attendees to Val’s presentations.

In a typical year, Val Germann presents seven different programs at Columbia Public Library. Programs have covered topics like “Mars at Its Highest Point in the Southern Sky,” “Venus’s Rendezvous With the Sun,” “The Big Dipper and Other Summer Constellations,” “Crescent Equinox, Moon and Lunar Landing Site” and “The Summer Triangle and Neptune.” Each program is fresh and newly created to fit the chosen topic and often introduces participants to once-in-a-lifetime occurrences and new space discoveries that challenge old scientific beliefs.

Val begins each session with an indoor presentation. When skies are clear, the program moves outside to view the stars and planets through high-powered telescopes.

After 40 years of doing the program at the library, it’s obvious that Val still loves astronomy and sharing his knowledge because his enthusiasm for the topic never wanes. Librarian Seth Smith says, “I helped a lot with ‘Party With the Stars’ when I was here as an associate between 2000 and 2004, and also assisted with one of the programs when I first started back here in a professional status in 2011. I’ve also brought my daughter to a number of his programs as a patron. He’s still just as enthusiastic and wonderful now as he was back in 2000.”

He encourages questions, especially from children, and further study of astronomy by suggesting reading materials and DVDs available at the library to students, parents and grandparents. After the program formally concludes, you’ll find Val talking astronomy to attendees until he’s answered everyone’s questions. According to librarian Nina Sappington, “For some children it’s their first taste of science that’s not in a book, and Val is able to make it come alive.”

Val taught astronomy at Columbia College for 20 years and helps staff the Laws Observatory on the University of Missouri campus.

Thanks to Val Germann, “Party With the Stars” has been supporting the library’s vision of connecting everyone to opportunities for a lifetime of discovery, learning and joy for 40 years.