On a recent cold, clear night the skies were perfect for viewing the heavens as students from Pulaski Middle School’s science club, in collaboration with the CNY Observers and Observing group, gazed at constellations, star groups and the moon through three high powered Newtonian reflector telescopes.
Coordinated by middle school science teachers Kristin Sheehan-Vautrin and Melisa Jennings, the evening began near the tennis courts behind the school, by acclimating everyone’s eyes to the darkness.
Very little light was used with the exception of red flashlights and lanterns which have little impact on the eye’s ability to see in the dark.
The CNYO experts, Damian Allis and Larry Slosberg pointed out six circumpolar stars that are always visible in the sky in the Central New York area and they served as markers in the sky to locate constellations.
During the initial exploration of the sky, the students were treated to a special treat as several shooting stars were observed that were part of the Leonid meteor shower.
The students had a few minutes of optimal star viewing time before the nearly full moon began to appear on the horizon and focus was turned onto its surface. The Newtonian reflector telescopes provided a detailed view of the moon and its craters and despite the cold, the students were eager to take their turn at the eyepiece for a look.
Following the sky observations, CNYO experts answered questions and provided additional information about astronomy and space science.