IntroductionEvery once in awhile, by no fault or intention of your own, you'll probably stumble into something great or profound. You were just in the right place or the right time, or simply got lucky, and something much better than you were planning just comes along. This is one of those stories :-)
The Perseids and BlacksmithingI have only somewhat recently moved to Fort Wayne (I've been here since May, although some decent chunks of that time I haven't been in town, for one reason or another), and, as such, am on the prowl for fun activities to do. In my initial search of town, I found a group called the Maumee Valley Blacksmithing Association. They operate nearby, and have meetings on the second and fourth Saturdays of any given month, meeting up at 9 and leaving when the last smith goes home.
Today being the 11th, I set out to check out the blacksmithing group and their meeting, interested and eager to learn more about the group and blacksmithing in general. At 8:30pm I set out to go hunt down the group in New Haven. I wandered about the countryside for a bit, and, thanks to Google not understanding the difference between North Webster Road and South Webster Road, got lost for a little bit. Nonetheless; I found the blacksmithing place come 9:10.
...unfortunately, the blacksmithing group was nowhere to be found. When the blacksmithing website said "meet at 9", they had meant 9 AM, not 9pm, a possibility I had not considered. Defeated, I was ready to go home and call it quits. At this point, however, a van pulled up behind me. The driver-side window was rolled down and I could see a bearded man with glasses in the driver's seat.
"Are you here for the stargazing? Do you know where that's taking place?" He asked.
I was unaware of any stargazing that night, however, I had seen a small group of people about a quarter mile back down the road who had been setting up chairs when I was driving in to the blacksmithing meeting. I assumed that was the stargazing group, and directed the driver accordingly. I had been planning on observing the Perseid meteor shower that evening, so I decided to go investigate the stargazing group.
The CosmosI wasn't expecting much from the stargazing group, to be honest. I was expecting a group of people sitting in plastic stacking chairs staring up at the sky. What I found, by comparison, was beyond my wildest expectations. Set up that night, and hosting the event, was a group of people known as the Fort Wayne Astronomical Society. The group was comprised of seasoned astronomers, who were very knowledgeable on constellations and the night sky, as well as expert telescope operators. What's more, the society is in possession of a large, impressive, motorized telescope with a 16" mirror that was set up that night.
"Who wants to see Saturn?" An older astronomer in charge of setting up the large telescope asked? Me! I want to see Saturn! Viewed through the amazing and powerful telescope, the planet could be seen clearly. Details such as the rings, and even 4 of the planet's many moons, could all be observed in significant detail. From a single speck of light, I was able to see an image of Saturn that looked more or less like this:
The night went on in this way, with me getting the opportunity to observe fantastic and beautiful glimpses of the heavens. I observed star clusters, learned new interesting trivia about the constellations (for example, the "arc" in the handle of Ursa Major arcs to the star Arcturus -- the brightest star in the northern hemisphere). At one point I even had the opportunity to observe a star that was twinkling blue and red; I was told by the astronomer that this was a binary star system (I had never seen one of this sort by the naked eye!)
All in all, I had a wonderful night, filled with adventure. I enjoyed my first meeting with the Astronomical Society, and can't wait to return to stargaze again :-)