Even though summer isn’t officially here for another couple of weeks, it sure has felt like summer here in Jackson. So, Wyoming Stargazing kicked off our Summer Session of Stargazing at Stilson this past Wednesday by holding two raffles to win a 6″ Donsobian telescope and a first generation iPad.
We had a perfectly cloudless night with Boreal Chorus Frogs serenading us in the background. Everyone who attended was able to see the craters on the Moon, the cloud bands of Jupiter, the Rings of Saturn, the Ring Nebula, the Hercules Globular Cluster, Bode’s Galaxy, the Cigar Galaxy, and even the distant Whirlpool Galaxy. At the end of the evening we drew the lucky winners of the raffle. Congratulations to Rick Bunker who was drawn as the winner for both the telescope and the the iPad!! Thanks so much for everyone who entered the raffle in person and on-line. Your generous donations will go towards continuing our free stargazing programs and to realizing our vision of creating a public observatory and planetarium in Jackson Hole.
Although the clouds didn’t cooperate this week for Stargazing at Stilson, last week we had by far our biggest turnout of over 30 people thanks to a visit from Wyncote Academy from Philadelphia. The group of high school students were on a tour of Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone when they heard about our stargazing programs. After a little trouble finding the location they arrived and were extremely enthusiastic. Their lead teacher Howard Schatz said about his students,” their inquisitiveness piqued and their imaginations engaged. For as you know, Einstein said, ‘The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge, but imagination’. The combination of inquisitiveness and imagination is the path to the frontier of knowledge.” For some of these students it was the first time that they had ever seen the rings of Saturn, or the moon of Jupiter, let along galaxies millions of light years away. Although it was quite dark that night, it was easy to hear their enthusiasm. The word of the night was “bitch’n!” It was so wonderful to have a large group of students who were so enthralled with seeing objects in the night sky. That’s what I live for!