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Open Lands, Open Sky

Sign: Chikaming Township Park & Preserve

Chikaming Open Lands (COL) will host a night with telescopes under the stars on November 17, 2017, at the Chikaming Township Park and Preserve located off Warren Woods Road (map) east of I-94. Astronomy activities are family-friendly and encourage the public to look up, to marvel, and to understand the overhead spectacle.


Stargazing & Telescopes

Members of Michiana Astronomical Society (MAS) will set up multiple large telescopes for viewing of deep sky objects. See the Andromeda Galaxy, the Double Cluster in Perseus, the setting Ring Nebula in Lyra, the rising Orion Nebula, as well as other celestial highlights of the season. Green laser pointers will trace the outlines of ancient star patterns, helping visitors to identify constellations and stars of the November sky.

Southern constellations in November.

Quantifying Darkness

A Sky Quality Meter quantifies the darkness.

Where open lands exist, so do open skies. While Chikaming Open Lands monitors its land and habitats, visitors on November 17 can help quantify its overhead assets, too. For example, how dark is the night sky and the environment for nocturnal animals? To measure darkness, MAS members will bring Sky Quality Meters (SQMs) and a Dark Sky Meter (DSM) phone app to get objective values. Additionally, visitors can use comparison star charts of Pegasus from Globe at Night to discern the visual limiting magnitude. A similar night sky appraisal in South Bend, IN, led to a better understanding of its parks' nighttime assets.

Sesquicentennial Star

Sesquicentennial star featured on a simple planisphere.

As Three Oaks, MI, celebrates its 150th birthday in 2017, we will target the "sesquicentennial star" Eltanin in the constellation of Draco the Dragon. Eltanin is 150 light years away, so the starlight (traveling at 186,000 miles per second) that left Eltanin in 1867 when Three Oaks was founded is just reaching our eyes now! Visitors will build a simple planisphere of the north circumpolar stars encircling Polaris to find the Big Dipper, Little Dipper, Cassiopeia, and Draco.

Hot chocolate will be served, and restrooms are available on site. For questions about the Open Lands, Open Sky event contact Casey Struecker at or (269) 405-1006.

[Added Oct. 30, 2017: Download and print the Eltanin Starwheel. Have it ready for an upcoming clear night.]

[Added Oct. 30, 2017: Meet the amateur astronomers bringing their big telescopes at]

[Added Oct. 30, 2017: As a subtle bonus, Nov. 17 is also the peak of the Leonid meteor shower.]

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