HMN Night at Stokesville Observatory


HMN Continuing Education Committee Chair Margaret Speicher arranged for Headwaters Chapter members to spend the evening of Friday, October 5th at the Stokesville Observatory to learn more about our extraterrestrial world from knowledgeable astronomy enthusiasts.

Their were ten members and guests in attendance. The evening started with an interesting power point presentation about astronomy given by Earl Downs, a Solar System Ambassador with the NASA Jet Propulsion Lab. Topics covered included identifying constellations, interesting facts about nebulae, all about our solar system, different star temperatures, the Milky Way and how the North Star changes due to the Earth’s axis of rotation’s 26,000-year cycle of precession. He explained how the current north star (Polaris), in about 8,000 years, will change to be the star Deneb and in about 12,000 more years to the star Vega.

Joey Reece, President of the Shenandoah Valley Stargazers astronomy club, assisted Earl in helping us navigate the night skies.

Because it decided to rain that evening, there was no opportunity to view anything through the observatory’s telescope or open the roof but they gave us a thorough tutorial on the history of their telescope and how to work it. Margaret’s daughter was the star at working the handheld computer to set the telescope to find certain points of interest had it been a clear night.

They invited us to come back the next weekend for the club’s open house to have an opportunity to view the night skies through the observatory telescope and interact with club members.

Quite a few HMN members went the following week and had a delightful evening viewing the stars (and planets). Club members shared their telescopes and expertise finding planets Saturn, Mars and Jupiter, the Andromeda Galaxy and much more.

A great CE opportunity for sure!

– Chris Bowlen, Transferee, and Margaret Speicher, Cohort III, October 2018

Photo: “The back of the Stokesville Observatory showing the main tower and the circle of powered piers” by Rcc105 is licensed under CC BY 3.0