The 2014 AstroCamp at YMCA Camp Eberhart in Three Rivers, MI, featured mostly clear skies at night for targeting deep sky objects with telescopes. Images are at the 2014 AstroCamp album. The summary below is excerpted from my short articles Underway in 2014 and 2014 AstroCamp. We saw everything from a gibbous Mercury midday to Stephan's Quintet (well, four of the five galaxies) at night. But you had to show up to see it.
Underway in 2014
AstroCamp is underway this week. We're under the stars (including the sun), and blissfully away from internet. During the optional Open Program at Camp Eberhart, resident astronomer Darren Drake targeted planets near the sun. Never seen a gibbous Mercury midday before! The AstroCamp kids learned how to use Dobsonian-mount telescopes and planishperes; walked off (or ran) a 1 ten-billionth scale of the solar system from Dave’s House; held meteorites that came from the origins of the solar system; collimated reflector telescopes, and used gelatin and lasers to show how lenses work.
As twilight deepens, we’re watching constellations and asterisms reveal themselves until the sky is speckled with starlight. Some of the kids are observing Saturn and its moons with 8-inch reflectors. Others are imaging Saturn using the Enyeart computer-driven telescopes at night. They’re finding double stars and galaxies and star clusters and nebulae. Tuesday night we gazed concurrently at stars, fireflies, and distant lightning. The lore of ancient astronomers is competing with the tale of Freddy the Fish around the campfire. You never know where the kids will take their interests. The intrepid ones who stayed up late on Wednesday even saw the faint Quasar Markarian 205 next to the spiral galaxy NGC 4319. That’s right, a quasar!
There’s more on tap, but we can’t tell all that goes on at AstroCamp. Some of it depends on where the interests of the campers and staff take it. We’ll post photos afterward (not many from night, since the best astronomy happens in the dark). If you want to get in on the action next year as either a camper or AstroCamp counselor, pencil in July 12-18, 2015, on your calendar. Camp Eberhart will soon confirm the dates and accept registrations at an early-bird rate.
Thanks, parents, for giving your kids a stargazing experience like no other.
Posted by: at 1:52 pm on July 24th, 2014
Following up AstroCamp 2014 Underway, the campers launched into more activities by day and telescoping at night. We gazed safely at the sun with protective equipment, experienced light pollution in the Starlab, pulled out stars on strings to see the 3D nature of the constellations, and launched decorated water rockets. Advanced AstroCampers processed their images of Saturn, yielding fabulous results. A survey sought input from the kids to make next year's AstroCamp even better.
At night several first-year campers earned their Stargazing Award, while others sought the Lunar Award, Solar Award, and Proficiency Award. Mostly clear skies allowed us to see more attractions like Neptune and Stephans Quintet (at least 4 of the 5 galaxies). Near midnight, remaining AstroCampers quantified sky glow with Sky Quality Meters and a Dark Sky Meter app. Many thanks go to staff of AstroCamp for bringing their talent and time to Camp Eberhart for the kids. In 2014 the astronomy staff included: