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Look Through a Big Scope Nov. 17


Wanna observe deep sky objects through big telescopes at a dark sky site? Enjoy a special skygazing event Open Lands, Open Skies as twilight segues into night on November 17, 2017. The family-friendly look up--free and open to the public--is at the Chikaming Township Park and Preserve, just east of I-94 off Warren Woods Road. For best results, dress warm and bring a mind as open as the night sky.

As described at Open Lands, Open Skies, you can also help quantify the darkness above the park with Sky Quality Meters if skies are clear, and make a paper starwheel to find Three Oaks' Sesquicentennial Star--the red giant Eltanin in the head of Draco the Dragon. Check the website of the host Chikaming Open Lands ( for any cancellation notice due to weather.

Among the experienced telescope owners that will be leading the stroll through the universe are Jim Hopkins, Larry Silvestri, and Matt Bielski. Most recently this trio have been telescope stalwarts of the monthly stargazing program at Kemil Beach in Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. Here's a brief background on these astronomy advocates, each of them a member of the Michiana Astronomical Society and the equipment they expect to bring.

Jim Hopkins at telescope

Jim Hopkins

Jim is President of the Naperville Astronomical Association, the largest in Illinois, and former professor in the Natural Science Dept at Joliet Junior College. Jim has over 40 years’ experience showing the public the night sky and dozens of showcase objects in it. You'll find Jim doing sidewalk astronomy in Chicago, guiding youths at YMCA AstroCamp, staying up all night at the Michiana Star Party--you name it, Jim travels to dark skies to share his enjoyment of the night sky.

At the Open Lands, Open Skies event Jim will be using his 14 inch Celestron SCT on a CGX mount.

Larry Silvestri and scope under Orion; image provided.

Larry Silvestri

Larry writes, "I first became interested in astronomy when I "discovered" the moons of Jupiter in 1958. After that, I never stopped studying the stars. That interest led me to the Adler Planetarium where I made my first telescope in 1962. I spent 1968 as a Marine in Vietnam where I saw the spectacular Milky Way and southern stars with zero light pollution. After my discharge from the Marines, I continued to make telescopes, including a 12.5" Cassegrain, and I continued to study astronomy...In 2010, I retired from the National Park Service, but I continued to volunteer for their astronomy programs. I am now writing the application for the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore designation as an International Dark Sky Park. I am a member of the Chicago Astronomical Society, Calumet Astronomical Society, Michiana Astronomical Society, and International Dark Sky Association."

For the Open Lands, Open Skies event, Larry will bring a 12" f/6 Newtonian on an antique German equatorial mount, and perhaps his 5" refractor on a alt-azimuth mount. Both scopes are mostly hand-crafted instruments.

Matt Bielski and telescope; imaged provided.

Matt Bielski

Matt writes, "Astronomy is one of my favorite hobbies. I observe year round, braving the chilly winter nights of the Midwest. My main interest is Deep Sky objects but other than that I'm a generalist and enjoy viewing whatever's up in the skies. I also challenge myself and the optics of my telescope by completing various observation lists. One of my favorite parts of this hobby is public outreach. I enjoy showing people the amazing celestial bodies in our night time skies. So far my tally is almost 800 different celestial objects observed."

For the Open Lands, Open Skies event, Matt will bring his largest telescope, a 16 inch Meade Lightbridge. It includes Argo Navis digital setting circles and computer.

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