WCCO radio personality Mike Lynch returns to Faribault’s River Bend Nature Center to teach his popular stargazing class.
The event will be held from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 26. A professional meteorologist and amateur astronomer, Lynch has taught astronomy classes since 1973, has published several astronomy books and writes a widely syndicated column on the topic.
The Faribault class is one of five Starwatch classes Lynch holds that week alone. Even after nearly 50 years of teaching the class, Lynch's enthusiasm for the showing people of all ages and backgrounds a little bit about stargazing remains undimmed.
"One of the great pleasures for me is having a kid looking in the telescope," said Lynch. "I love their reactions."
Generally, the city partners with River Bend to hosts a Stargazing event with Lynch twice a year. Faribault Parks & Recreation Communications Coordinator Brad Phenow says the program is one of the city’s most popular events.
Lynch varies his Stargazing presentation depending on the audience, but it includes both an educational component as well as stargazing through Lynch’s powerful telescopes. Lynch’s presentation begins with an indoor portion where he provides maps and constellation diagrams so that attendees know what to look for.
Then the show moves outside, to give everyone a chance to see the night sky as they may have never seen it before. The telescopes, some as big as he is or bigger, are equipped with cameras so the view through the telescope can be shown on a screen.
“There’s no one else I know of with his arsenal of massive telescopes and knowledge,” said Phenow.
Phenow said that although River Bend is not deeply involved with the event, the city is grateful that they are willing to host it. So long as the weather is conducive, the dark night skies out at the Nature Center provide extra vivid views.
Those interested are encouraged to register well in advance. Space is limited, and some of Lynch’s shows in Faribault have sold out. In addition, the city likes to give Lynch an accurate estimate of how many people will attend.
In the past, the city has often seen a large number of last-minute registrations as people wait to see what the weather will be like. However, if the weather is non-conducive to stargazing, Lynch will offer a “cloud check” to give aspiring stargazers a second chance to see the stars. Lynch also give his educational presentation rain or shine, and unless there is significant precipitation, attendees will still have the opportunity to use his telescopes to "landgaze."
River Bend doesn't provide outdoor seating, but Phenow said attendees are welcome to bring a lawn chair for extra comfort. He said he’s glad that the city is able to provide a night of family-friendly fun.
“It’s a neat way to bring the family together,” he said.