Matt Bielski's voice of enthusiasm for the night sky suggests what you can anticipate on the observing field at the 2016 Michiana Star Party (MSP8). After a recent outing under the stars, Matt tallied celestial highlights he and others saw with telescopes on the site of the Andrews University Observatory in Berrien Springs, MI. The thrill of seeing such splendor through telescopes, as described below by Matt, is both palpable and infectious.
In a previous post Time for 2016 Star Party, I described the logistics of attending the gathering of astronomy aficionados. Matt, a member of Michiana Astronomical Society Inc. (MAS), exudes the emotional rewards that are possible. However, to experience intimately the firmament yourself, you have to commit to attending.
To help us best prepare and to facilitate a great experience for you and other attendees, I encourage you to pre-register for MSP8, a family-friendly event which begins Friday evening, May 6, and continues through Sunday morning, May 8, at Dr. TK Lawless Park in Vandalia, MI. There will always be other attractions competing for your attention, of course, but there seldom are such opportunities to be under a dark sky with lots of telescopes. Additionally, you can enjoy all of the attractions of Dr. TK Lawless Park and the outdoors.
On the heels of a night's observing, Matt wrote:
thanks to Kelly for inviting John and i to set our scopes up for the Andrews astronomy class at the observatory tonight both John and i had a blast ...it was so much fun telling the students about different celestial objects the evening started of with John and I each setting up and collimating our scopes , i brought my 10" zhumell DOB and john chose the father fahey open truss 12.25" DOB. the students arrived around 8:30 still too light to view much so we familiarized them with the constellations and key stars , then we started with Jupiter , all 4 galleon moons were visible to one side of Jupiter the major bands were very vivid.....through the 14" SCT in the observatory faint patterns were observed in the bands we then moved the scopes to a few binary stars starting with Ursa major and alcor and mizar then moving to polaris , polaris B showed as a stunning dot next to the brilliant Cepheid variable polaris A I explained to the students the size difference between the two, as polaris A was approx 50x the diameter of our sun and polaris b, a yellow dwarf, was just slightly larger than the sun then we moved to the perseus double which was stunning in my new 20mm explorer scientific 100Deg eyepiece .....several ooohs and OMG's ensued as the students viewed it. once everyone saw the clusters the observatory moved to M35 , the view i had was striking.
the outside scopes then moved to the Orion nebula ...beautiful as usual, a fifth star in the trapezium was visible in my scope and the nebula was striking by then Lab was over and the students left once the students left we put the 2" diagonal on the 14" SCT and put my ES 20MM eyepiece in and swung back to M42.... the view was breathtaking there was distinct waves and density differences visible in the nebula , along with a distinct dark band area south of the trapezium .. incredibly beautiful to say the least we then swung to M82 a definite jaw dropping moment as the galaxy wasn't a fuzzy!! it had defined shape and pattern throughout and even a faint dark band down through the central spiral plane we then viewed its neighbor M81 which was beautiful as well we then pionted the scope to M3 ...my first views of this Globular a month ago low in the sky just provided a fuzzy ball ...tonight well i was amazed, M3 showed up as a wonderful globular providing us with many stars being resolved dwindling down to a densely packed bright central core my OMG moment of the night .....needless to say to scope stayed on M3 for some time we finally ended the evening, as it was getting quite cold, on the neighboring globular M53 not as striking as M3 but beautiful none the less thanks again to Kelly for inviting John and i we had such a wonderful time matt
Image: Matt Bielski (left) and John Schrader preview the Fahey telescope, which they received on loan from MAS. They have since taken the Fahey scope to several public outreach events and will be at MSP8, too.
For the eighth Michiana Star Party, many people will people bring telescopes, though it is not required. Amateur astronomers like Matt, eager to share, remind me of my favorite quote, by Gordon Parks:
"Enthusiasm is seeing the importance in what you do, giving it dignity, and making what you do important to yourself and to others."
Spend some time under the stars. The views can be inspiring; the enthusiasm can be contagious.