The South Plains Astronomy Club has a Junior Program for members younger than 18 years. Junior Members can take part in many of the regular Club activities, like the public stargazing events, along with special events just for the Junior Program. The Program emphasizes education, including familiarity with the night sky, telescope design and operation, observing techniques, and the basics of astronomical imaging. Junior Members who don’t own a telescope have the opportunity of borrowing one for honing their observing skills.
February 2020. Member Patrice Fay was appointed by the SPAC President as Charperson for Junior Activities for 2020. She also serves as the SPAC Secretary.
Patrice came to Texas in 1976 when her father, an Air Force Pilot who inspired her interest in astronomy, and mother, a registered nurse, settled in Wichita Falls. After graduating high school in Wichita Falls, she moved to Lubbock and earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Texas Tech University.
She worked in various fields including desk-top publishing, Head Start, the Red Cross, and the grocery business where she met her husband Rick (currently our Treasurer). Patrice returned to Texas Tech, where she earned her Master of Arts in Museum Science. She taught astronomy labs for the physics department, ran the On-Campus Observatory, and was Interim Education Program Manager for the Museum of Texas Tech University and Moody Planetarium.
Like our Vice-President Tom Heisey, Patrice has served as a National Aeronautics and Space Administration/Jet Propulsion Laboratory (NASA/JPL) Solar System Ambassador. Her teaching has provided her the opportunity to reach audiences of every age around the globe, including Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Colorado, Kansas, Wyoming, New Hampshire, Canada, and Australia.
In addition to astronomy, she has led art- and science-based programming on topics such as bees, dinosaurs, and bats, as well as ancient Greek, Roman and Egyptian art, thru the Renaissance, Impressionism, and early 20th Century art.
Patrice and Rick recently moved back to Lubbock to be closer to their eight grandchildren. When not enjoying astronomy, Patrice and her husband have participated in community theatre, and have sung in their church choir. She currently works for a local bank, serving as their representative on the Lubbock Chamber of Commerce.
The South Plains Astronomy Club is fortunate to have an individual with such extensive experience in outreach and educational activities involving young people in charge of our Junior Program. One of her goals as Chairperson is to ensure that all Junior Members are meaningfully engaged in activities of the Junior Section regardless of their age.