(Rotarians opened meeting with Pledge of Allegiance.)
When founding fathers picked a symbol to represent the ideals of statehood, they chose stars.
Flanked on stage by U.S. and State of Indiana flags, both of which feature stars.
As South Bend celebrates its sesquicentennial, realize that 75 years of accumulated time—half of SB’s history—occurred between sunset and sunrise. I find value in understanding that half. This afternoon I’d like to honor South Bend's nighttime heritage by sharing what’s happening in our community, astronomically-speaking.
One star in the northern sky has particular significance for South Bend. In the constellation Draco the Dragon is the star Eltanin, approximately 150 LY away. It’s a big dying orange giant that is “moving toward us, and will make a close pass at a distance of 28 light years 1.5 million years from now, when it will be the brightest star in the sky and will rival our current Sirius. “ (Kaler) When South Bend’s founders were penning the documents of incorporation, starlight left Eltanin, traveling outward at the speed of light--186,000 miles per second. After 150 years, that starlight is just now reaching our eyes in South Bend. Eltanin is South Bend’s birthday star. I have a star finder to pass out to help you find it. (See sidebar at First Midnight for two pages.)
This May 22 and 23, MAS members will set up telescopes to share some other sky highlights on its 150th birthday party. That Friday, for example, just after the sun sets, look west down the Jefferson St. bridge to see bright Jupiter, a thin crescent moon, and brilliant Venus all in a row. As night progresses, Saturn rises higher in the southeast. Eltanin is up all night. Come out and see if you can find Eltanin with me.
How many people have seen the Milky Way? [Most raised hand]
How many have seen it from South Bend? [About three raised hand]