Teen musicians rock Petaluma’s Phoenix Theater to benefit Robert Ferguson Observatory

The concert and silent auction, attended by over 120 people and dubbed “The Sky’s the Limit,” raised money for the Robert Ferguson Observatory.|

Teen musicians rocked out in Petaluma May 6 in support of an organization helping young people reach for the stars.

“The Sky’s the Limit” concert at the Phoenix Theater featured young Santa Rosa indie-rock ensemble MJ Ward and The Social Construct, Rohnert Park rock group Gnome Riot and Tracy solo artist Vesper, playing in support of the Valley of the Moon Observatory Association, a nonprofit that operates the Robert Ferguson Observatory in Sugarloaf Ridge State Park.

The event, attended by over 120 people, raised approximately $4,000 for the Kenwood observatory’s educational programs.

“It was such an inspiring event,“ said Stephanie Derammelaere, executive director of the Robert Ferguson Observatory. ”There isn't that many outlets and things to do at night for minors in this county, so having this concert by kids and for kids was really fun.“

The event was conceived by Ward, a ninth-grader in the ArtQuest program at Santa Rosa High School, and his father, James Ward, an observatory docent.

A silent auction featured donated items including private studio tours of world-renowned Sebastopol artist Ned Khan and astrophotography images printed on metal, some of which were done at the observatory.

Observatory docents, including Colleen Ferguson — daughter of observatory namesake and late astronomer Robert Ferguson — were on hand to offer information on observatory events and memberships. Ferguson joined the musicians onstage for a singalong of “The Rainbow Connection” at the end of the show.

All the money raised will go toward the observatory’s star-viewing events, speaker series, an annual telescope giveaway and other educational offerings.

Built in 1997, the observatory’s mission is to “inspire kids to study the stars and learn about astronomy and other sciences,” Derammelaere said.

For more information, go to rfo.org.

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