- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 1, 2015

BENTON TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) - With the gray skies of winter still holding out, the Fox Park Observatory near Potterville is getting ready for a summer of stargazing and solar flares.

Clouds and strong winds forced the cancellation of a sun observation event that was open to the public. The four volunteers on hand instead spent time getting the place shipshape for summer.

“We’re just doing some cleanup,” said Jason Blaschka, lead volunteer for the observatory and longtime amateur astronomer. “It’s springtime, over the winter the ladybugs try to take over the observatory so we’re trying to clean them all out.”

But there have been visitors already. About 25 people showed up for a night event on Saturday, according to the Lansing State Journal ( https://on.lsj.com/1BW0Tsx ).

“We showed the moon, Jupiter, Venus, the Orion nebula and a couple of different star clusters,” Blaschka said. “We try to get a whole gamut of what’s up there.”

At another recent night event, visitors were able to see Jupiter’s great red spot and the various cloud bands that circle the giant planet.

“And you could see the shadow of one of the moons on Jupiter’s surface as well,” Blaschka said. “That was one of the best views in my life.”

There will be plenty of other observation opportunities for the public. Night viewing is scheduled for April 10-11 and April 24-25. The events begin at sunset and there are three or four a month, Blaschka said.

The solar viewings are monthly, with the next ones set for April 25 and May 17, and a weekend “star party” is set for July 31-Aug. 2.

“It’s like a camping weekend,” Blaschka said. “We invite amateurs from around the state and we all camp out here and observe and we do talks during the day.”


Information from: Lansing State Journal, https://www.lansingstatejournal.com

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