The Milky Way. Photo Credit: NASA
Local nonprofit, Clean up our River Environment (CURE), auctioned the talents of their board chair, Joe Hauger, to provide a first class astronomy "show" on our farm. Hey Joe- you put yourself up on the auction block next year and we'll bid you back to Big Stone County.
We are blessed with good neighbors and friends and the yard was filled with dozens of kids -- ages 3-13. Sloppy joes, bars, chips, kids, mosquitos, lawn chairs, blankets, and a night sky to enflame any heart.
Stargazing was off to a DRAMATIC start as the space station passed over us at 8:17- still twilight. It looked like a hugely bright star and passed over us in 3 minutes. I simply can't believe I've never seen this before. It was such a startling and huge night sky object.
The next space station siting for Big Stone County is September 30th at 6:41 pm to 6:46pm. Believe me, if you look up, you won't miss it. Click here to find out when the space station can be seen above you.
Then we looked through Joe's high powered telescope for a close up view of craters on the orange moon as it set in the west. Venus set in the West with the moon- how's that for love. And Jupiter rose bright in the east- boom! it was there. We could see the rings through the scope.
Then the stars began coming out by the thousands... Perfectly clear, crisp September night on the northern high plains. Believe you me... there is no light pollution on our little square of the prairie. No other yards lights and nighttime dark as dark as it gets.
The Milky Way emerge in the night sky and the kids asked what that was... it's our galaxy - the one we live in. A wide strip of cloudy looking stars that span across the night sky. The Milky Way seemed to be coming straight out of our silos and across the sky. No wonder it's so easy to feel like the center of the universe (or not).
Lay on a blanket- your child's head in your lap...Good people around you...The brightest stars ever seen in the sky. People for thousands of year have been laying on this prairie looking up at the night sky in awe. We joined their ranks. Even Joe was impressed with the stars in the sky on Saturday night and said as far as a dark night sky, our farm is "as good as it gets." Ain't it though?