Hello, Moon

Posted on October 7, 2009


I didn’t expect all the cars parked near the entrance to High Rock Tower Park when I arrived last night, nor did I expect the number of people. While  there, I encountered about 50–young, old and in-between; families, couples, and friends–in a crowd that mirrored the diversity of Lynn. I also didn’t expect to hear katydids* at High Rock. I forgot that the stars are for everyone, and that nature has a way of persisting.

Jamie Marsh, director of Community Development for the city of Lynn, conducts observation nights at the High Rock Tower Observatory with its 12 inch Meade telescope. Marsh said that 2500 people have used the telescope since the mayor’s office started doing tours in 2002.  “The Mayor’s office volunteers their time as do I for the tours.”

The 2009 schedule of public viewing came to an end yesterday, but Marsh may take the telescope off its mount to the Red Rock Park some time in November for one more night.

To get to the telescope, you must climb the spiral iron staircase inside the tower. When you get to the top, you might see the domed observatory turn on its motorized moorings in order to face the celestial object of choice.

Everyone gets a chance to enter the dimly lit interior, climb the stepladder and look through the eyepiece. The chilly, cloudy night yielded fleeting views of the moon. It popped out from behind the cloud cover to reveal its cratered surface to the delight of young and old. Wisps of cloud floated past its illuminated disc.

*Katydids are a species of grasshopper-like insect that were once numerous in late summer and fall in my suburban hometown of Braintree, MA. The males make a distinctive noise by rubbing their wings together that sounds like the sandpaper scuffed on back and forth on wood 3 times. This is their mating call. In concert, it can be quite loud. I remember their sound permeating the humid night. In hot weather, their sound is fast. It slows down in proportion to how cold it gets. I remember one year when they made a great racket when I first noticed them. For some reason, their numbers decreased from one year to the next after that.

More pictures.