Since the date of InOMN 2011 was announced a few months ago, I'd planned to do a session at Valpo's new Central Park Plaza, sometimes referred to as Valpo's Millennium Park. The lighting in the area make it hostile for astronomy, but it's central location in the city makes for decent foot traffic. I spent four nights there from October 1st through the 6th, getting familiar with both the location and our Moon.
I invited my friends through Facebook, my atheist Meet-up group, and asked for any interested astronomers to join me on the private CASX boards, but otherwise didn't promote it. I had a few people interested, and Calumet Astronomical Society member Jeff offered to bring out an extra scope. Hillary came along as photographer and astronomer, giving us a total of three crew members, and four telescopes.
Hillary and I had pizza at Greek's Pizza, just on the other side of the park, then walked over at 6 PM to set up. Jeff arrived as we were hauling out our gear. I took my time setting up, walking around the park taking pictures of the park before sunset.
Hillary & Jeff.
Hillary with her 60mm shorty refractor.
Me with my 4.5" go-to Newtonian.
Jeff with his 8" LX90.
Already starting to attract attention.
I had to move my Dob for the early visitors while we waited for the Moon to clear the bank next to the park.
Jeff brought an 8” Meade LX90, Hillary her 60mm shorty refractor, and I had my 4.5” go-to and 6”Dobsonian. Hillary and I offered low powered lunar views all night, while Jeff opted for higher magnification, and a neutral density filter for more comfortable viewing. I had a small lunar map clipped to the side of my go-to Newt, and Jeff and I both sported 3 ft. wide laminated maps. I used mine often, as the large basin Shickard was placed right on the terminator. It’s western rim was illuminated, but the crater was in deep shadow, and drew a lot of attention. I also had to frequently explain the formation of maria, and that they are much younger than the heavily cratered highlands.
Hillary and Jeff stayed with the Moon all night, but once Jupiter appeared over the rooftops on Lincolnway, I positioned my Dob to show it as well. And to tie the Jovian experience to InOMN, I pointed out that those little points of light to either side of Jupiter, the wonderful and varied Galilean Moons, were roughly the same size as our Moon. Really, compared to the gas giant, they’re not much smaller than Earth. That help give a scale of distance, as well as pointing out that the light they’re seeing from the Jovian system took about 40 minutes to reach their eye.
I used my Dob, which was big enough to show the Jovian system well, yet easy to move, for views of Jupiter and the Galilean Moons.
The large crater Shickard, lying along the southern terminator, was frequently asked about.
A parting crew shot. Many thanks to Jeff and Hillary for coming out, and making this a fun, informative event.
Read about the Chicago Astronomer InOMN event near Adler Planetarium.