Monday, March 12, 2007

back at the adler

On Wednesday evening at the Adler Planetarium I participated in Stargazing for Beginners, a two-hour course introducing aspiring urban stargazers to the wonderful activity of stargazing. It was great. I'm so happy that I was there. There were no more than eight people in attendance. The course was held in its Sky Theater, where star charts of the night sky are projected on the rotunda above us. It was as if we were outside looking up, dazzled by beauty of the cosmos.

We reviewed the night skies through the different seasons and learned to identify constellations and some of the most prominent stars. The star charts that we studied were under clear skies where light pollution isn't a problem, such as is the case in remote areas far from cities. Trying to identify constellations and the stars that constitute them in places like Chicago is quite challenging indeed. I've read only a few books on star gazing but having the opportunity to look up at the sky (though projected of course) was a huge advancement in my learning. As the instructor pointed out, it's best to practice stargazing outside but considering that I don't have a car to escape the lights of the big city and the fact that it was hovering around 30 degrees outside, the Sky Theater was a fine alternative.

As part of my birthday gift, Su purchased tickets for us to attend a lecture by Neil deGrasse Tyson at the Adler on the 19th. I'm so psyched to see him in person and listen to him talk. He will sign copies of his newest book, Death by Black Hole and Other Cosmic Quandaries. I'm thrilled. I can't wait! Maybe I can get a photo of us together.

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