At the beginning of the 4-H Sky Coach class, held on a clear and unseasonably warm night Feb. 4 in rural Brainerd, University of Minnesota Extension educator Heidi Haugen asked everyone to line up according to skill, ranging from being able to find and name all of the Messier deep space objects to being able to point out the moon if pressed on the subject. And it seemed most skill levels were represented in the class. By the end of the evening, participants were ready and eager to help train others in how to explore the night sky.
4-H sky coaches are adults and youths, grades 11 and up, that teach astronomy and science concepts to young people in 4-H clubs or in partnership with 4-H.
“At the end of this four-hour training they’re certified to take this equipment, bring it out in the community and work with people who want to explore the skies. Really, astronomy is a vehicle for people to have a conversation about how they fit into the world therein and develop a relationship with the world around them and these folks are the people that are going to do that in Central Minnesota,” said 4-H volunteer and sky coach trainer Adam Marcotte of the class as they worked with the telescopes, high powered binoculars and other equipment.
An upcoming family friendly event is Thursday, Feb. 23, from 6-8 p.m. at the Pine River-Backus High School football field. There will be several telescopes, a sky scout GPS system and astronomy binoculars as well as Sky Coaches. Dress warm and bring a flashlight. For information on Astronomy events in the area, visit Night Sky Connection on Facebook.