In the wild lands off Ortega Highway, Astronomy Night makes its monthly stand. It's a science night. It's a date night. It's a family trip. And it's pretty much the only place most OC'ers get to see the stars while having an astronomy expert guide you through it. The Reserve at Rancho Mission Viejo hosts the evenings in a secluded valley that cuts a good portion of the local light pollution and is as lovely a spot in the county as you’ll find. Even when it’s dark.
“Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.” – Astronomer Carl Sagan
10 Billion – The number of years Harvard astrophysicist Avi Loeb theorizes life could have begun in other stretches of the universe before it began on Earth, based on the temperature of the universe at the time.
100,000 – The number of years it takes for light to travel from one end of our Milky Way galaxy to the other.
50 Billion – The number of planets in our galaxy, according to some recent estimates.
11% – The current effectiveness of the Mt. Wilson Observatory 100-inch telescope compared to when it was built in 1917, due to light pollution in Los Angeles.
70,000 – The number of years it will take Voyager 1 to reach the nearest star.
1500 B.C. – The estimated earliest dates of Chinese astronomers’ charts of the sky.
2nd Century A.D. – When Egyptian astronomer Ptolemy charted the skies using a stone block with an engraved arc called a plinth and a triangular rule called a triquetrum.
Heliocentrism – The idea the Earth and the other planets rotate around the sun in one of billions of galaxies. First proposed in the 3rd Century B.C.; made famous by Copernicus in the 1500s; expanded a century later by Galileo, who was convicted for its heretical suggestion by the Catholic Inquisition and sentenced to life under house arrest. It was not until the late 1800s and early 1900s that the theory gained popular support in the scientific community.
1609 – The year Galileo made his first telescope. A low-end modern telescope sees 50 to 500 times better.
260 to 265 – The distance in miles the International Space Station, roughly the length and width of a football field, floats in orbit about the Earth.
“Step back for a moment, and simply behold the sky without using instruments. Stretched from horizon to horizon, it's the ultimate 3D view, with stars that are thousands of trillions of miles from where you stand. It's also the most ancient thing you will ever see, with some faint stars 10 billion years old and more. Astronomers tell us that we are only a speck of dust in a vast arena, and anyone can see that it's true.” – Dr. Seth Shostak, senior astronomer, SETI Institute
Upcoming Astronomy Nights at The Reserve
March 1, 6:30-8:30 p.m.
April 26, 8:15-10:15 p.m.
$5 kids, $10 adults