A new program through Rend Lake College will change a person’s perception of the night sky. Constellations and Stars with Greg Hollmann – otherwise known as “Astronights” – is coming soon to local sites. “Astronights” are where stargazers are born.
In four sessions, Astronights will take participants to unreachable destinations. It is a brand-new series offered for free to the public by Rend Lake College.
Join RLC’s resident astronomy aficionado, Greg Hollmann, and his students as they guide participants on a tour of the celestial world. They will present constellations and their mythology, along with the science behind the cosmos. The college’s telescope will be on hand to view planets, galaxies and forming stars.
The first Astronight is from 7 - 9:30 p.m., tonight, at Dolen State Park in McLeansboro. Hollmann said he will cover the science and mythology of various constellations. According to him, the skies this time of year are optimal for viewing Jupiter through RLC’s 10-inch reflector telescope that holds the capability of viewing distant galaxies, stars and the planets of the solar system.
According to Hollmann, the closest galaxies are 18 trillion miles from Earth.
“We can look through this telescope at galaxies that are even farther away than that,” he said.
The second community stargazing session will take place from 7 - 9 p.m., Oct. 10, in room 132 of the RLC Science Building on the campus in Ina. The feature presentation will be a look at fall constellations, such as Cassiopeia and Cygnus - The Swan. Hollmann will focus some attention on the Pleiades star cluster, also known as the Seven Sisters and Messier 45. It is a conspicuous object in the night sky with a prominent place in ancient mythology. The cluster contains hundreds of stars, of which only a handful are commonly visible to the unaided eye.
Astronights will continue at the residence of RLC President Mark Kern. At this session, participants will be treated to a free dinner and hay ride, as well as learn more about the night sky. It will take place from 6 - 9 p.m., Oct. 20, at Kern’s home in Ewing. Maps to his residence are available to those registering for the program.
Lastly, the fourth installation of constellation curiosity will be held from 6:30 - 9 p.m., Nov. 14, at Veterans Park in Mt. Vernon.
Hollmann reminded participants to dress for the weather as each session will be spent outdoors. Participants under 13 years of age must be accompanied by an adult.
“Bring your family and friends as we enjoy a beautiful evening learning about the night sky!” he concluded.
Those interested in attending any or all of the exciting new community stargazing sessions at various local sites can contact Dawn Gibson in the Community Education Department at 618-437-5312, ext. 1276.