Kuipers enjoys a night under the stars

By on August 14, 2014

Photo: Gabee Delficco (from left), Liv Delficco and Erik Rychlewski, all from DeKalb, search for the Perseid meteor shower Tuesday night. Photo by Lynn Logan

MAPLE PARK—Kuipers Family Farm in Maple Park on Tuesday night hosted a stargazing event.

The event featured a presentation by Northern Illinois University’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM), and then provided attendees with an opportunity to view the Perseid meteor shower.

About 60 people came out to Kuiper’s Orchard to listen to the presentation and then enjoy the meteor shower show. The Perseid meteor shower is an annual shower that occurs every year during mid-August. Observers get to enjoy the bright displays of the meteor shower each year thanks to the Earth passing through dust and ice from the comet Swift-Tuttle. The meteor shower was visible from the northeast direction, and Saturn, Mars, the moon and the meteors were visible during the evening.

STEM provided a presentation by Daniel Strange, David Hedin, and Sheldon Turner. Strange, manager at Davis Hall Observatory, covered different spacecraft missions to comets that led to the discovery of new information. Dr. Hedin, a Board of Trustees professor, spoke about the possibilities of other planets being habitable like Earth. Dr. Sheldon Turner presented information on why Pluto is no longer considered a planet, and the decision making process behind different subcategories of planets.

Kim Kuipers, wife to Wade Kuipers and owner of Kuipers Family Farm, was present for the event.

“Everything they’re talking about is really interesting,” she said. “I keep telling my kids there will be a test afterward. Everyone seems really excited about what they will see. I’m glad that the weather turned around. I was talking to someone from STEM, and they said its their second-biggest event.”

After the presentation, guests and STEM staff milled outside to view the Perseid meteor show. STEM brought its telescopes for interested guests to use during the meteor shower.

STEM is a group that provides different programs and activities throughout the year, centered around science, technology, engineering and math. Different types of activities for kids are available through STEM, including hands-on and demonstration programs, and other events where visitors get to explore STEM facilities at NIU. Some of the group’s most popular events are the Haunted Physics Laboratory during Halloween, demonstration shows involving chemistry experiments, Frontier Physics Road Shows and Davis Hall Observatory visits.

STEM events are otherwise known as “Cafe.” The next STEM Cafe will be “The Physics of Football” on Wednesday, Sept. 17, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at O’Leary’s Restaurant & Pub, 260 E. Lincoln Highway (Route 38) in DeKalb.