Despite forecasts predicting 94 percent cloud cover and a 34 percent chance of rain, those looking to scan the night sky at the 10th biannual stargazing event Friday, April 28, still made the trek to Homer Township’s historic Trantina Farm.
Members from South West Astronomy Observers Group and Kankakee Area StarGazers were on site with a telescope, smaller equipment and copies of the April sky map.
Because Homer Glen serves as an International Dark Sky Community, the Village looks to continue the tradition of holding stargazing events, said Sharon Sweas, chairwoman of the Homer Glen Environment Committee and a Homer Glen Village trustee.
“It’s a good event to get the community together,” she said.
According to the International Dark-Sky Association’s website, an International Dark Sky Community is committed to advocating for protection of the night sky, educating the public and policymakers about conservation, promoting smart lighting choices and empowering the public with the tools and resources necessary bring back the night.
The event was coordinated by the Homer Glen Environment Committee with the assistance of Homer Glen Emergency Management Agency, Homer Township and Will County School District 92.
“It’s a joint effort with the different communities,” Sweas said.
Ken Plecki is a member of the Kankakee StarGazers, an astronomy group that was present at the event teaching attendees about the various constellations, planets and galaxies. He said the event provides an opportunity to get kids to look at the sky and consider what is up there.
“In today’s urban societies, I think there’s a stat out there that 90 percent of kids born today will never see the Milky Way Galaxy, and that’s simply because [of] the urban sprawl and the light pollution,” he said.
Plecki said he encourages people to look up at the night sky.
“You could see something in the sky every night,” he said. “You’re not going to see an asteroid flying by Earth every night, right? That’s kind of rare. You can see something every night as long as it’s clear. The sky doesn’t change that much from day to day… The seasons change very slowly, but the sky does change over the year, so we do get if you observe all year, you’ll see different things.”
Typically, the event sees between 300 to 400 people.
For those in attendance, the night served as an opportunity to embrace the beauty of the environment and learn about the role they play in protecting it.
Sheena Pinkerman, of Lockport, was kneeling on the ground beside her 5-year-old daughter, Ava, pointing out some clouds scattered across the sky.
“We’re trying to shapes, shapes and animals and all sorts of characters,” Sheena said. “It’s something fun to challenge her little imagination. We’re trying to keep it alive.”
Sheena said she’s glad they dropped in for the stargazing event.
“[It’s] something unique, something fun and different,” she said. “We wanted to check out something new. I thought it might be fun for her that she could potentially learn something in the process.”
Linda Gall, of Orland Park, was surveying the night sky.
“I wish we would’ve had a clearer sky, but it’s kind of nice being out in the fresh air,” she said.
Galls’ 12-year-old granddaughter, Colleen Donnelly, said she was hoping she might still see some “constellations.”
Donnelly said although it was cloudy, she was still enjoying her night spent at Trantina Farm.
“I like how it’s open and there’s no lights,” the Homer Glen resident said.
Gall said she has already decided that she will return for another stargazing event.
“We’ll try it again in October and maybe, [it will] be a clear sky then,” she said. “I think what a wonderful idea to get everybody out here and looking. I love the idea that we’re a dark skies community where you’re really thinking about light pollution and trying to keep it natural.”
Those interested in attending another stargazing event will get a chance to do so in October. Sweas said this fall, they may do something special to celebrate the event and its 10th biannual.