NPCC STEM Club to provide instruction for stargazing bus tours

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Jared Daily, NPCC physics and engineering instructor, sets up a telescope that will be used during stargazing bus tours this summer.

Members of the North Platte Community College STEM Club will offer their expertise to stargazing bus tours this summer. It's part of a new venture to encourage local tourism. 

The North Platte and Lincoln County Visitors Bureau plans to roll out its first bus tour in August to stargazing enthusiasts. Feather River Vineyards will host the event, which will include a tour of the winery, wine tasting and option of a dinner party. 

NPCC physics and engineering instructor Jared Daily and the college's STEM Club have been asked to provide the sky viewing component. 

"It's something one of our staff members got the idea for while attending a conference on outdoor and agritourism," said Amanda Connick, group sales specialist for the visitors bureau. "Bus groups want to go out and do something the normal leisure traveler can't do." 

The primary telescope that will be used, an Orion SkyQuest XT12i Computerized IntelliScope arrived at Daily's office this week. Measuring 4-feet, 10 inches in length and weighing 50 pounds, it takes big-aperture astronomy to a new level of performance. 

The 12-inch aperture, f/4.9 reflector telescope gathers enough light for bright, close-up views of the moon and planets as well as sharp views of faint, deep-sky objects such as galaxies, nebulas and star clusters. 

About a dozen beginner telescopes will also be available for individual use. 

"We have plenty of beautiful wide-open skies in Nebraska, and sometimes we take that for granted," Connick said. "These tours are a way to give people who don't have that luxury the experience of the night sky in a way that is guided so they can have that educational aspect as well. The nightcap just makes it that much more special."