Have you ever looked up at the night sky and wondered: Where exactly are all those stars, and what are they made of? Where did the planets come from, and why does the moon change its shape? As a child I used to ask my father such questions, and his thoughtful answers inspired still more questions. So when my youngest child began to show an interest in astronomy, I was delighted to continue the tradition and answer his questions too. Today he knows far more than I do, and I am again the one asking questions.
In the Springfield area we are fortunate to have a great resource, The Springfield Stars Club, a group of amateur astronomers curious about the night sky. We meet at 7.30pm on the fourth Tuesday of each month from September to May in the Tolman Auditorium at the Springfield Science Museum. Speakers include faculty from local colleges and members of the Stars Club and other astronomy organizations, with topics ranging from non-technical to intermediate. Refreshments are served, and the public is welcome free of charge. In June, our meeting is replaced by a field trip to a nearby place of astronomical interest. On Tuesday, December 23rd please join the Stars Club in celebrating the Holidays and Winter Solstice at our special end of year meeting. Several members will give short presentations on their observing experiences and other astronomy topics.
The Springfield Stars Club also hosts a public observing program, Stars over Springfield, at the Springfield Science Museum on the first Friday of the month. This program requires no background knowledge of astronomy, and begins with an introductory slide show on topics such as space exploration or the sights of the night sky. Afterwards, participants visit the Museumís large rooftop observatory and, weather permitting, observe the night sky through the 20 inch diameter telescope. Constructed by members of the Stars Club, the telescope and observatory were donated to the Museum in 1972. Club members also set up telescopes outside the museum for public viewing. In the event of cloudy weather, a show featuring the stars and constellations of the current season is presented in the Museumís Seymour Planetarium instead. The star projector in the planetarium was designed and constructed in the 1930ís by former Science Museum director Dr. Frank Korkosz, and is the oldest operating American-built star projector in the world. Stars over Springfield is not held in June, July or August. My own introduction to The Springfield Stars Club was through Stars over Springfield when I brought my young son to one of their Friday night meetings about 10 years ago. Weíve been hooked ever since! For more information please visit the Stars Club website at www.reflector.org.
Itís easy to enjoy the night sky even without sophisticated equipment. All you need are dark skies and a pair of binoculars or an inexpensive telescope. So head out on the next clear night and reach for the stars!
Amanda Jermyn, of Longmeadow, has been a member of the Springfield Stars Club since 2000 and currently serves on the club's board of directors. For more information, visit the Springfield Stars Club Web site at www.reflector.org or call 1(800)336-9054.
Copyright © Amanda Jermyn