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Thursday, April 25, 2024

Telescopes along the Riverwalk connect thoughts of first man on the Moon


Last Thursday evening,  about a dozen astronomers from the Naperville Astronomical Association set up their telescopes in all shapes and sizes along the Riverwalk near Jackson at Webster streets in downtown Naperville, something they do about once a month especially during the summer season.

Either near the Dandelion Fountain or by the red Landforms sculpture, members engage interested individuals of all ages with a chance to look at the galaxy of stars in the clear night sky.  On Thursday, astronomers aimed their telescopes at the almost first quarter moon, aglow with all its craters at 8:30PM.

To folks who were around in the late 1960s, star gazing, by day or by night,  likely brings to mind the summer of 1969 and anticipation of the moon launch when many families purchased telescopes to watch the night sky.

That year a vintage print ad for Volkswagen claimed, “It’s ugly, but it get you there,” under a photo of the U.S. Lunar Module, an image used  instead of the usual classic VW Bug. The Lunar Module was the first of six LEMs that landed on the surface of the Moon beginning in 1969  and ending with the sixth and final lunar landing in 1972.

Thursday evening, PN’s photographer took a few photos with the promise to promote future public events hosted by the Naperville Astronomical Association along the Riverwalk or at their observatory located  in the  N.A.A. Astronomy Education Center (AEC) at the Naperville Springbrook Water Reclamation plant.

Two days later on Aug. 25, Neil Armstrong, the astronaut who made “one giant leap for mankind” when he became the first man to walk on the Moon on July 20, 1969, died in Cincinnati.

According to  reports, Armstrong, age 82, had undergone heart surgery earlier this month.

In a public statement, the Armstrong family said:

“We are heartbroken to share the news that Neil Armstrong has passed away following complications resulting from cardiovascular procedures.

“While we mourn the loss of a very good man, we also celebrate his remarkable life and hope that it serves as an example to young people around the world to work hard to make their dreams come true, to be willing to explore and push the limits, and to selflessly serve a cause greater than themselves.”

Armstrong was one of 22 Purdue graduates who became an astronaut. His quiet inspiration will always be remembered by individuals who grew up watching the  development of  NASA, the growth of space exploration and the first manned spaceflights.

Going forward locally, the Naperville Astronomical Association is a nonprofit astronomy club with a membership of more than 200 individuals and families, mainly from the southwest Chicagoland area. They always welcome new interested  members.

According to their website, they desire to  “share an interest in exploring the universe beyond our planet, both with our eyes and our minds. What we have found is that our enjoyment of our hobby can be enhanced when we share it with others; the young with the old, the beginner with the advanced amateur and the professional.”

Who knows? An interest in astronomy might lead to a career in science and space exploration. Imagine looking down at Earth from space, witnessing a hurricane such as Tropical Storm Isaac as it hit the Florida Keys with rain and wind, perhaps becoming stronger as it’s barreling through the Gulf of Mexico toward the northern Gulf Coast.

For more info and future events, visit www.naperastro.org.

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PN Editor
PN Editor
An editor is someone who prepares content for publishing. It entered English, the American Language, via French. Its modern sense for newspapers has been around since about 1800.


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