GPL Column: Looking to the stars

I spent my whole life in cities and suburbs where there is so much light pollution that you’re lucky to see Orion’s Belt. I grew up in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I thought I knew what the night sky looked like.

When I was 13 and my parents were planning our summer trip, they asked where I wanted to go. I voted for New York City — so we went up to the Upper Peninsula and stayed in a cabin on Lake Superior.

While I was initially more than a little disappointed, I ended up loving the trip for many reasons. The UP is a really beautiful place to hike and explore. It was also the first time I was far enough away from a city to actually see the Milky Way. I almost lost my mind!

It never occurred to me that there were places where you could look up and see all of that. I just laid back on the grass and stared at the sky for hours. I saw my first shooting star on that trip. While I find the idea of going to space completely terrifying, I love to learn about it.

I had a similar experience at my first International Observe the Moon Night years ago. I know there are rings on Saturn. I’ve seen pictures of them my whole life. I’ve seen pictures from the Hubble Telescope. I follow the updates from the James Webb Telescope and stare at the images in awe.

But somehow all of that was trumped by actually looking through a telescope at the rings on Saturn up in the night sky.

International Observe the Moon Night is an annual event put on by NASA to bring together amateur lunar enthusiasts and celebrate all we have done in space exploration. Nearly every year the Greenwood Public Library celebrates Moon Night. There is always a crowd of space enthusiasts (a few of which are librarians) that are excited to get an up-close look at the moon, planets, and more.

Steve Haines and members of the Indiana Astronomical Society will be bringing a variety of awesome telescopes and answering all your astronomical questions at our International Observe the Moon Night on Saturday, Oct. 1st. Stop by between 7 and 9:30 p.m. for a chance to view the moon, visible planets, and stars through different types of telescopes.

I hope to see you there!

Aubrey Watson is an Adult Services Librarian at Greenwood Public Library. GPL staff members share in writing this bi-monthly column for the Daily Journal. Send comments to [email protected]