TICKLE ME ELMO, pogo sticks and Cabbage Patch Dolls -- each year we watch hot gifts ride in and out on the wave of Christmas commercialism. But one present consistently hits wish lists for dreamers young and old: the telescope.
It is so popular during the holiday season and such a difficult gift to select, that Westminster Astronomical Society is playing host to a telescope buyers' workshop at Bear Branch Nature Center in Silver Run at 7: 30 p.m. Nov. 15.
Members will show their telescopes and answer questions to give prospective buyers a better sense of what is available and how much it costs.
"This is more of a show and tell. We won't be selling anything. But there is no one telescope that can do everything, like be portable and gather lots of light. So we want to help people make their decisions," said Curtis Roelle, founder of the astronomical society.
Next month's workshop is one the group's efforts to teach people more about the stars and the planets.
On several Fridays and Saturdays during the year, members also serve as tour guides of stars at the Bear Branch planetarium.
On clear nights, participants can look through telescopes outside. Inside the planetarium, they can gaze at as many as 750 stars while Scott Diegel reels off the lore and legends of the constellations.
The 45-minute program is geared for people of all ages. During a recent program, giggling children fit in well with Diegel's tales.
"It's a low-tech planetarium -- no lasers, no rock music," Roelle said. "We really try to educate, not just entertain people."
The Bear Branch planetarium opened in 1994 after a generous gift by society members.
When the nature center staff realized it had a dome that was too big for the center's 20-foot ceiling, society members Ron Smith of Taylorsville, Paul Henze of Westminster and Mike Scallion, then from Hampstead, built a dome.
Westminster Astronomical Society has more than 80 members from all over the country, as far away as California -- some are members who have moved, others heard about the club from afar.
The more people interested by astronomy the better, said Roelle, who has been hooked on space since he was 14.
"Actually, I was born on Oct. 3, right before Sputnik. We're both 40 now," he jokes.
After watching the Mercury and Apollo missions, Roelle knew he was fascinated by space.
The society meets the second Wednesday of every month at Bear Branch Nature Center in Silver Run, at 7: 30 p.m.
Information: Roelle, 410- 549-3150, or Diegel, 410-876-0860.
Silver Run/Union Mills Lions Club thanks the 900 people who bought raffle tickets for a recent fund-raiser.
Winners in the raffle are Jeanette and Dustin Reunion of New Windsor ($225); Marie Hammond of Baltimore ($135); and Ann Bumback of Littlestown ($90).
Boot scootin' time
Help raise money for the American Red Cross in Carroll County. A country dance will be held from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Nov. 2 at Carroll County Agricultural Center barn in Westminster to help raise money for local disaster victims.
Cathey Foelber will open dancing and offer lessons.
Cost: $8 donation per person, $15 per couple, and $5 for children younger than age 12.
Lisa Breslin's Neighbors column appears Mondays in the Carroll County edition of The Sun.
Pub Date: 10/20/97