Last night, Jennifer and I headed out to a stargazing event at the Academy of Environmental Science in Crystal River. The school is on the water near the Gulf of Mexico. Several telescopes had been set up on the large dock.
We have had cloudless days this week until today. As the sun went down, it seemed to get cloudier. Our opportunity for stargazing seemed to be in jeopardy. Mr. Smith tried to keep everyone interested by talking about early astronomers and the invention of the telescope while he waited for the clouds to lift. The clouds to the west were lifting, but clouds were still covering Jupiter which was rising in the east. Occasionally Jupiter would peek at us between the clouds.
Finally, the clouds in the east lifted and Jupiter shone in the eastern sky. All of the telescopes were trained on the largest planet in our solar system. It was finally my turn to look through the Meade 16″ Dobsonian telescope. I saw Jupiter and its four Galilean moons. I could see the brown bands on Jupiter. It was my first experience seeing a planet through a telescope and it was amazing.
We were also able to see Messier 23, also known as M23, a cluster of stars in the constellation Sagittarius and another telescope was trained on the Andromeda galaxy. A couple of the telescopes were a bit high for me, though they did have a step stool available for the kids and me. Yet another opportunity to make my karmic wish known to the universe.
The center holds these astronomy nights once a month usually during a new moon. If you live in the area, it is definitely worthwhile.