Beyond what the naked eye can see

By Jennifer Bowman in Animals & Nature

It’s hard to grasp one million stars…
To the naked eye, it looks like one star in the sky. Through a telescope, it looks like hundreds of glittering diamonds suspended in the darkness. In reality, it is one million stars that are 22,000 light years away, the M13 globular cluster.
These are the kinds of things a group of about 50 people had the opportunity to see at a stargazing event hosted at Innovative in Millbank, Ontario. Several recreational astronomers from the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada brought their telescopes to show the beauty of the night sky.
Mike Renner, chair for the Stargazing 101 arm of the Kitchener-Waterloo branch of The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, has been stargazing since 1969.
“I got interested in 1968 when Apollo 8 circled the moon,” he said. “I couldn’t believe there were people circling the moon. I spent that year badgering Mom and Dad that I wanted a telescope for Christmas or I’d run away. And they complied.”
Soon he found out there were bigger and better telescopes. Two years later, around the age of 14, he found a mirror-making kit and ground his own 6-inch telescope. He has made 15 telescopes since then. He built his current 16-inch telescope in 2005.
That is the telescope night time viewers peered through at Innovative. Besides the M13 globular cluster (which can be seen inside the Hercules constellation), people also saw the rings on Jupiter, Jupiter’s moons, the craters on Earth’s moon, the ring around Saturn, and a double star. Some were within our galaxy, the Milky Way, others were in galaxies far beyond.
The star gazing group that night was also treated to an unexpected display of the Northern Lights dancing on the horizon.
“I hadn’t seen Northern lights in close to 10 years and I get out all the time,” Renner said. “To have it happen coincidentally with a public star viewing was pretty amazing.”
One of the things you don’t need a telescope to see is the International Space Station. It can shine brighter than the stars.
To see when and where the International Space Station is visible in your area, go to