LETTER: Astronomy night introduces the universe

Reader Marilyn Roberts: "People were very involved and asked great questions; they also learned to focus the scopes and track the objects."

On Aug. 18, Eric Moon and I presented an astronomy night at the Kokanee Creek Visitors Centre.

The first hour and a half we spent at the visitors centre introducing people to the universe, including movement of the Earth, moon, planets and stars (orbital mechanics), navigating the sky (constellations and guide stars), objects to look at in the telescope (what they are and how they got there) and telescope etiquette. About 50 people attended. The audience was very engrossed and many questions from both adults and children were asked and answered. We also set up a 10-inch hand-built Dobsonian so people could see up close what we would be using for the star-gazing session.

As the sky began to darken, we set two 10-inch Dobsonians up in the playground field and spent time showing Saturn to everyone. The rings were beautiful and people became very excited with their first view through the scopes.

As the sky got darker and Saturn disappeared behind a tree, we started looking at other objects and tried to show people at least one emission nebulae, planetary nebulae, globular cluster, open cluster, double star, and galaxy. We again explained what these were and pointed out where each was in the sky. Some objects seen included M13, the Andromeda and Whirlpool galaxies, the Ring, Dumbbell, and Lagoon nebulae, Alberio, Mizar and Alcor, and the golden double in Delphinius. People were given charts of the current sky so they could identify the asterisms for themselves later. People were very involved and asked great questions; they also learned to focus the scopes and track the objects.

Joanne Siderius, the naturalist at the park, loaned us two milk cartons so the shorter children could reach the eyepieces. Thanks, Joanne!

The night was a great success and we viewed till after 11 p.m. when most people went back to camp.

Marilyn Roberts

Kaslo