In 2012, the Kalamazoo Astronomical Society generously donated an Orion Starblast 4.5” reflector telescope to the Portage District Library’s collection. Patrons are able to check out the sturdy tabletop telescope and gaze at the stars and planets from home. Astronomical societies around the country are donating telescopes to local libraries, including Madison, Colorado and the Swampscott Library in New Hampshire. However, this is the first such program to debut in Michigan.
The Telescope is available to Portage residents and individuals and families that have purchased a resident card. You may call ((269) 585-8739) or ask at the adult information desk to reserve a telescope for a specific date. Telescope circulate for one week, and have an overdue charge of $10 per day.
The Kalamazoo Astronomical Society has prepared the telescope for public use by filling an accessory bag with a red light headlamp (so as not to interfere with night vision), a guide to the constellations, a Stellarium Planetarium Software CD, a laminated moon map, and a set of easy-to-follow instructions. Using the telescope is similar to using a point-and-shoot camera: start with the finding scope to point the telescope at a specific object, then look through the lens and focus on the moon, planets, stars, or deep sky objects. The Kalamazoo Astronomical Society is a volunteer nonprofit organization that promotes stargazing and astronomy by sponsoring programs like Public Observing Sessions and Star Parties. You can find their information at http://www.kasonline.org/. A link to the user’s manual for the telescope can be found here
Stargazers, did you know? Michigan’s Dark Sky Park
One of Michigan’s hidden treasures for skygazers is the Emmet County Dark Sky Park, located at Headlands property, a 600-acre thickly forested gem situated along the clear blue expanse of Lake Michigan just west of Mackinaw City. One of only 5 places in the United States with this designation, it achieved this due the lack of light pollution that allows for pristine views of the night sky, so it is an ideal place to view events such as meteor showers. This area is protected from development that would impinge on views of the night sky, and has a growing schedule of astronomy education events.
A schedule of events for The Headlands, Michigan’s International Dark Sky Park in Emmet County, can be found here