Scope Out South Bend invites the public to borrow a telescope from a St. Joseph County Public Library (SJCPL) to find hidden clues that are visible only with a telescope. Observers who record six clues in the city-wide scavenger hunt are eligible to win one of three Galileoscopes and up to $150.00. Fifteen Galileoscopes distributed at eight SJCPL libraries can be checked out with a library card for a 3-week loan. Participants must complete the hunt and submit their results by September 27, 2015, to be eligible to win prizes. The dozen clues with maps and background information are available as a PDF file and online at www.southbendastro.org under Scope Out South Bend.
Scope Out South Bend, funded by an SB150 grant in celebration of South Bend’s sesquicentennial, is coordinated by Dr. Kate Rueff and Chuck Bueter. The initiative introduces families to observing with a telescope while exploring South Bend's past, present, and future highlights.
Clues are hidden near many sites, including the Potawatomi Zoo, the City of South Bend wastewater treatment plant, former Studebaker buildings, libraries, schools, and the St. Joseph County Courthouse.
The telescopes are also functional for celestial viewing, with the moon, Saturn, Jupiter, and Venus being accessible targets. (In late June, Jupiter and Venus are converging in the western sky after sunset.) No experience is necessary—just a library card.
On September 27 when the Scope Out South Bend challenge concludes, shortly after 9:00 p.m. is a total lunar eclipse. Observers can simply step outside and witness the phenomenon, with or without telescope. Eclipse details are at the southbendastro.org website under the Local Astro menu.
Dr. Kate Rueff is a fellow at enFocus in South Bend, IN. Her PhD research in astrophysics allowed her to work with world-class telescopes and travel the globe studying gas and dust in galaxies similar to our own Milky Way.
Chuck Bueter is an amateur astronomer engaged in astronomy education and public outreach throughout Michiana. Bueter is guiding youths in the Skynet Junior Scholars program, in which local youths access a global network of research-grade telescopes (see SB150 Young Astronomers at southbendastro.org). Bueter's blog and projects are online at www.nightwise.org.