GENEVA – A great knowledge of astronomy is not necessary for those looking to take part in the Fox Valley Astronomical Society's monthly free star parties at Peck Farm Park in Geneva.
Participants don't need a big, expensive telescope, or any such equipment. They won't need to be scientists. All that's needed, community relations director Bruce Abels said, is an interest in the subject.
"You look in the sky, and you see stuff, and you think, 'That looks cool,' " Abels said of what might bring people out.
"One of the things I try to impress upon people is, you don't have to know astronomy to come out. You don't even have to own a telescope."
The group's next such outing takes place at 7 p.m. Saturday at the orientation barn at Peck Farm Park, 4038 Kaneville Road. The sessions start with a presentation, and Saturday's will focus on "Jupiter – King of Planets." After that, participants may head outside to view the night sky.
Many group members will bring their telescopes, which are available to use for those in attendance. Participants also may bring their own. Abels said it is a perfect learning opportunity for those who own telescopes but don't know how to use them. He said there's no reason to be embarrassed if that is the case because he once had that same issue.
Cold weather does not stop the star gazing, but cloudy conditions might. But the presentation takes place, no matter what the weather is like. Those interested might opt to become a club member. Abels said the club has members who have been around since the 1980s, and some who joined recently. And, he said, not all members were people who majored in physics or mathematics.
As far as the free star parties, Abels said there are many reasons to go.
"It's free, and it's interesting, and you may learn something," he said. "And you may see something cool."