I recently had the pleasure of attending an NIUSTEAM event regarding stargazing, One of the NIUSTEAM faculty stood out with tips and tricks on stargazing.
Jeremy Benson is the director of NIU STEAM summer camps, a position well-earned. He participates in hands-on ways for almost every STEM event NIU hosts. He was monitoring the event for safety and behavior standards as well, ensuring things remain family-friendly.
DirectorBenson's advice for watching the Perseid meteor shower works for other showers as well, but not for all cosmic bodies:
-find a low light area
-maximize the amount of visible sky
-for meteor showers, no telescope is needed.
Meteor showers have been an easy way to appreciate the cosmos for millenia.
Unfortunately, the skies did not clear up for the shower. However, Director Benson had a backup plan! On loan from NASA he had several slides of rock samples the likes of which people hunt the world over. There are only 200 sets of these slides available.
NASA lets educators check out these slides of extraterrestrial earth for extended periods of study, but keeps tight track of them nonetheless. There's something incredible about knowing you're looking at rocks that came from the moon, and that our country sent people there and back.
The third type of NASA-lent item was a vial of simulated Lunar Soil. The scientists at the Goddard Space Flight Center had to create this simulated soil in order to properly test treads, suspensions, and airtight seals on the equipment astronauts would later use on the surface of the moon.
If you've read this far, I hope you won't mind if I drop the report-style facade for a moment, and thank you all for engaging in this series. It's been somewhat of a passion project of mine to bring these bits of info to you all, and I hope you've enjoyed learning about the night sky.