2017 Astronomy Things To Do
Here are my picks for Astronomy Things To Do in 2017. At least, they're astronomy things I look forward to doing.
Any clear night
Half of all history occurred between sunset and sunrise. On a clear night(s), simply look up at a free gift from nature. Disconnect from the digital culture, dress for the temperature, then go outside at night and look up at the stars, moon, and planets. Be deliberate and patient. Wonder at the magnificence.
It's a full day of science fun for the family at the St. Joseph County Public Library. Prepare for the main event of 2017--the solar eclipse on Monday, August 21. In two rooms on the lower level, members of Michiana Astronomical Society Inc. will guide young visitors in investigating how eclipses happen and will demonstrate ways to watch this solar spectacle safely.
Michiana Star Party 9
It's time to do what you've sometimes mused about--spend a night camping under the stars. Only this time it will be in a dark field alongside telescopes of all sizes. Bring your own observing gear or stroll among the amateur astronomers who share their passion--and telescopic views--with you and your family.
Register online to join this one-week adventure under the stars at YMCA Camp Eberhart in Three Rivers, MI. Youths aged 9 and above learn constellations and find deep space objects to target with an impressive collection of telescopes. By day we do astronomy activities, and by night the AstroCamp kids and counselors come out to star hop. Plus, kids get the exciting experience of summer camp.
This is the Big One in 2017--a solar eclipse visible across all of North American. Around South Bend, IN, about 85% of the sun will be obscured by the moon. You'll need certified solar shades or practice other eye safety techniques to watch the partial eclipse safely. If you can get to a narrow swath that bisects the United States you'll be able to witness a total solar eclipse from there! Plan now.
Make solargraphs--simple pinhole cameras--and create your own original image of a landscape scene that features solar arcs throughout the year. In the process, become more familiar with and more informed about the sun. You need only an aluminum can, duct tape, photographic paper, and some patience. See Anniversary Solargraph results from 2016 to get yourself motivated. Contact me if you want to make and mount your own solargraph can and need some support.
Dark Sky Advocacy
Sure, it's less sexy than stargazing, but we need to advocate for dark skies and sensible lighting schemes in municipal works and private installations alike. Blue-rich LED lights, though the darling of energy efficiency, have the downside of impinging on human health and the natural kingdom. Instead, insist on fully shielded LEDs that are rated 3000K or lower, toward the so-called "warm light" or redder end of the color spectrum. It's that easy to be a better steward of the night.
Other Michiana parties with an emphasis in celestial pursuits are listed under Local Astro at the South Bend Astro website. To start or to further an interest in astronomy...enjoy a Science Cafe, take in a Universe Revealed presentation, hear speakers at a Michiana Astronomical Society meeting, launch rockets, visit a planetarium, or check out a large collection of meteorites. The universe has something for everyone--of all ages, interests, and abilities.
Find your place in space in 2017. Remember, it all begins simply by looking up.