21 August 2016

Chino Hills State Park Astronomy Event Was Far Out!

Last weekend's "Meet the Night Sky" event, sponsored by the Chino Hills State Park Interpretive Association and held at the Rolling M Ranch in the heart of the park, was a fascinating peek into the mid-boggling wonders of the size and complexity of the universe.

Led by Jeff Schroeder, who conducted the same program last year, the evening featured his illustrated presentation that put the size of the universe and the distances between components of it in terms of relative scale that could be understood.

Jeff Schroeder gives a fascinating talk last Saturday night on the size, scale and scope of the universe to a large crowd in the amphitheater at the Rolling M Ranch in Chino Hills State Park.

The talk also emphasized that, despite the amazing work that has been done in space exploration in recent years, our understanding of our universe is very limited.  Still, what has been learned is amazing in terms of coming to terms with our infinitesimally small place in an ever-expanding universe.

Before the talk, while it was still light and while there was still a good deal of air turbulence from our planet's surface heat that affected the clarity of the viewing, Schroeder had his home-built telescope set up on top of his Volvo station wagon, so that guests could get a still-remarkable view of the surface of the moon, which happened to be full that evening.  Schroeder's way of expressing the magnification was that the smallest item viewed through the scope was something on the order of several (5, perhaps) miles across.

Before Jeff's talk, guests could look through the large telescope, which he built himself and which was mounted on his Volvo station wagon, and get a good view of the surface of the moon, despite air turbulence from the surface heat here on earth.  After his discussion and when it was dark, views of Saturn, its rings, and two of the moons were visible--an experience few get to have.
Then, after his presentation, when it quite dark out, especially given the ranch's location, he directed his scope at the plant Saturn, which could be seen with its rings, as well as two of the planet's moons to the lower left.  For those of us who have never had the opportunity to see something like this, it was definitely worth the long wait in line.

This event is another example of just how valuable Chino Hills State Park (which was earmarked at various times for an international airport and a freeway, much less housing) is for our local area and how great it is to see the interpretive association put on programs that educate and entertain.  It was really a fun evening.

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