Brian Ottum, an astronomer from Ann Arbor, Mich., sent
his wife and daughter to Florida for an Easter vacation, but he chose to
come to Calhoun County for a peaceful weekend in an open hilltop field,
with heavenly bodies for his companions.
“Our dark skies are a natural resource that can be
developed with a conservative plan to host sky watches. Last year, a
thousand people attended the Star watch weekend at Spruce Knob in West
Virginia, which is even more remote that Calhoun County. This is a
special place because there are no shopping centers, factories and other
places with brightly lighted areas,” said Ottum.
This does not mean we should live in complete darkness,
but when planning outdoor lighting, consider the direction and placement
of the lights. This will help preserve a little known secret of Calhoun
County that is bringing more visitors to our park each year.
Levi J. Morris looking into the viewfinder of the large telescope.
Most of them have self contained campers and do not
require many of the amenities of other camp sites.
Even though there was not much advance notice of his
visit, Ottum said that he had quite a few visitors over the weekend.
Astronomer Brian Ottum demonstrates use of equipment, left to right,
Levi J. Morris, Scotty Robertson and Jackie and Doc Gilbert.
The Boy Scout troop will have a field trip to the site
on Tuesday evening.
Ottum has a way of present-ing information in a low-key
friendly way that appeals to children and adults. Visitors were invited
to view the skies through his equipment.
Saturday’s strong winds did temporarily change one
attraction. One really strong gust knocked over his solar telescope and
broke the lens. The telescope was custom made and the lens permitted
observers to view the sun without danger of burning their eyes.
Thanks go to Brian Ottum for making this experience
available to Calhouners.