11 December 2008

Night Lights at the Cincinnati Observatory

We've come full circle. Mike has a great post below about the modern problem of stray light obscuring the night sky. A century and a quarter ago the Cincinnati Observatory had to move from Mt. Ida (now Mt. Adams) to its current location in Mt. Lookout to get away from the basin's ubiquitous coal smoke, which likewise obstructed their view. Read the history here.

The observatory is no longer making cutting-edge discoveries like the old days. It's new mission is to spread the excitement of astronomy to the rest of us, and especially kids. It's not everyday that an ordinary Joe can walk into a research institution and handle a planet-class instrument like theirs. But that's exactly what we all are invited to do this weekend. From the Observatory website:
Night Lights at the Cincinnati Observatory
December 14, from 6:30-9pm

Join us for the 33rd year of this Mount Lookout tradition. As the neighborhood lights up the streets, the Cincinnati Observatory will open its buildings and telescopes for the general public. Cruise from Mount Lookout Square to the Observatory for carolers, stargazing, a gift shop, and hot drinks.

Perfect for all ages.

Cost: Free

No reservations required. For more information call 513-321-5186.

The staff are down to earth, explain things in layman's terms, and the center is very child-friendly. Everybody takes turns stepping up to the eyepiece and looking through the big tube. Kids who know what planets are and have enough patience to sit through a movie will enjoy the novelty of it. As a parent, the real joy is watching their brains expand as it hits them that they are actually looking at another planet/galaxy/quasar/etc.


ekalb said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
5chw4r7z said...

How awesome is it that you can stick your eye up to the oldest operational telescope in the world. It doesn't mean anything at the end of the day, but still, I was getting goosebumps last year when we went. The telescope is 165 yrs old, you don't many chance in life to touch history like that.

CityKin said...

It is cold in there, so where warm clothes if you go.

DP said...

I went to a community meeting a couple months ago that happened to be at the Observatory. Someone from the Observatory gave a brief history that included something about how the telescope's presence almost resulted in Cincinnati being the standard for world time, instead of Greenwich.

Quimbob said...

"the telescope's presence almost resulted in Cincinnati being the standard for world time, instead of Greenwich."
wow, so it would only be 1988 now ?

CityKin said...

^ha ha..

WestEnder said...

I was walking around the grounds years ago and kept hearing a tap tap tap coming from the woods. It turned out to be a red-headed woodpecker going nuts on a tree.

There are interesting things outside the observatory, too!