LIMA — The Lima Astronomical Society opened its Schoonover Observatory over the weekend for an open house and discussion on the Dark Skies Initiative.
“It’s been over a year,” said Michael Ritchie, Lima Astronomical Society president. “It’s (the closure has) really done a lot of harm to the observatory. I had to come out and re-clean everything, but we’re finally back open.”
Ritchie says they are limited in what they can do because repairs are needed.
“The city has still not replaced the motors in the dome. So we can’t use the telescope or the dome yet, but they have just receieved bids for the motors and they’re going to be replacing them soon,” Ritchie said.
People attending the open house on Saturday and Sunday learned more about International Dark Sky Week.
“It’s part of the International Dark-Sky Association. They started a program to help cities and people to lessen the amount of excessive light that’s produced. Here on the eastern side of the United States, we have all older cities that had old lighting techniques … sodium vapor lights that are not shielded. The cities west of the Mississippi use new lighting techniques. Even large cities don’t put out as much light as the cities here. We’re trying to change that,” Ritchie said.
One example of an improvement in lighting techniques can be seen at Apollo Career Center.
“When they redid their building, they took their parking light receptacles down and put in new shielded lights. Now when you drive by, instead of seeing the bright light up there, you see the parking lot being lit up,” Ritchie said.
The open house attracted people from all over the state.
On Sunday, a couple of women from Akron and Bucyrus came to see the observatory.
“I work out of Lima, I haul out of Omni. And the people at OmniSource told me to come here. I got the girls together and we planned a trip here to come over here and see and looked through the telescopes,” said Lori McClintock of Bucyrus.
Sandy Higgins of Akron has a fascination with astronomy.
“Astronomy is like a forgotten gem. Younger generations don’t know to even look, other than at a falling star and there’s so much more. It’s fascinating and you see different things every time you look. … It should not be forgotten. It’s awesome,” Higgins said.
Reach Sam Shriver at 567-242-0409.