Virtual astronomy viewing celebrates Sleeping Bear Dunes anniversary

TRAVERSE CITY — Northwestern Michigan College's J.H Rogers Observatory will partner with the Grand Traverse Astronomical Society and host a virtual astronomical viewing session Friday, Sept. 25, celebrating Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore's 50th anniversary.

Sleeping Bear Dunes has been the site of in-person "star parties" for the last 10 years. To celebrate the park's anniversary and still observe COVID-19 restrictions on in-person gatherings, live images from the NMC Observatory's telescope will be sent to guests via Zoom beginning at 9 p.m. (If it is cloudy, backup footage will be shown.) Astronomers will be available to answer questions.

The projection of actual live video images is an innovative approach to allowing for viewing safely through the college's telescope by students. Applying a new low-light sensitive video camera, images normally seen through the eyepiece can be projected real-time to data projector or computer screens. The moon, bright planets, star clusters, nebulae and even faint galaxies are shown as they would appear in the eyepiece of the telescopes at the Observatory. This allows students to continue use of the telescopes at Rogers Observatory safely, as well as providing more in-depth discussions on the objects they are observing.

Work began on this concept in late spring 2020 due to the restrictions of the COVID-19. The system has been utilized for NMC's Astronomy students beginning at the start of this Fall 2020 semester.


Release date: September 24, 2020

For more information:

Jerry Dobek,
NMC Astronomy Department
(231) 342-4545


Northwestern Michigan College is committed to a policy of equal opportunity for all persons and does not unlawfully discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, disability, genetic information, height, weight, marital status or veteran status in employment, educational programs and activities, and admissions.