Stargazing on Second Avenue

Posted on: June 26th, 2012 at 10:24 am by

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Look! Up in the Sky! It's a Bird! It's a Plane! It's Saturn!

The average New Yorker takes pride in not being starstruck…planets, however, are another story.

We stumbled upon a man setting up a large portable telescope in front of the Bean on Second Avenue this past Saturday night. People (including us) soon began to gather, asking him and his friends what they were looking at.

Felton Davis, the stargazer at the helm of the telescope, explained that on that night, we would be able to see the rings of Saturn clearly. We would have to wait a few minutes, he explained, because a large building directly south was blocking our celestial view. (Astronomy doesn’t exactly measure time in a New York minute.)

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The crowd patiently stood around, growing larger, pointing a lot, and waiting for the planet to move. Children and adults were equally excited to get the chance to take a peek through the impressive telescope.

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The corner began to feel more like a festive little block party as people ran into friends and also made some new ones. While waiting for Saturn to move into view, some of the crowd was kept entertained by an astronomy app on the phone of one of Davis’ friends. When pointed at the sky in any direction, the app allowed viewers to see star charts and a sky atlas on the phone.

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When the planet and the building ultimately cooperated, each person got a chance to look through the telescope, as Davis took photos of each viewer’s reaction. Saturn could be seen quite clearly, looking just like the illustrations in our childhood textbooks. Those with good eyesight could also detect some of its moons.

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It’s really pretty easy to find free entertainment on the streets of Manhattan, if you just look outside your door…and up.

-Writeup and photos by Lori Greenberg

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