Bong State Rec Area Astronomy Association
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The Group

This is a photo of an outing Saturday, October 9, 2010. There were 5 of us there with 6 telescopes set up. From left to right: Mike (seated), Mark, Larry, Jeff, and Dave. The laser is pointed at the star Altair.

The Richard Bong State Recreational Area Astronomy Association (BSRAAA) traces its origins back to a stargazing session in September of 1989 when an amateur biologist from Burlington, WI came over to check out Dave Beine’s telescope that was set up near the Wolf Lake Beach.

Starting in February of 1990, monthly afternoon programs were presented to the public in the Molinaro Visitor’s Center. (Posters were put up around the park advertising the sessions.) In June of 1990 the monthly programs were presented one hour before sundown and weather permitting casual astronomical observations were conducted in parking lot B. By 1991 the indoor programs were dropped and telescopes were set up in parking lot B on a monthly basis April through October. By 1996 observing sessions were changed to weekly sessions. In 2002 the sessions were moved to parking lot D (the RC Flying Field) and in late 2004 the sessions moved to Lot F where we still meet.

Attendance at our Saturday sessions ranges from 0 to over 80; generally the Fourth of July and Labor Day have the largest crowds.

Jeff, Larry, Mike & Vince (and others) all came into the fold after attending a Saturday session.

We look forward to 20 more years!

Dave Beine

39 years as an observational enthusiast and still going strong!

Starting when I was 25 years old with a 2.4" refractor, all three main types of telescopes are now in my arsenal. Currently most of my observing is done with a 9.25" GOTO SCT; now and then my standby instrument, a 6" f/8 refractor, is used.

Double Star and Open Cluster observation are my current forte. Also, the study of the sun in Hydrogen Alpha has occupied my casual daytime observing since 1995.

In addition, I derive much enjoyment from presenting the Introduction to The Sky program at the start of our sessions.

Jeff Seivert

I got into astronomy about 8 years ago when we bought a 4" reflecting telescope for Christmas. I almost gave up on observing the stars until a co-worker who was into astronomy helped me get it aligned and showed me some of the cooler stuff in the night sky.

Since then I've bought and sold several scopes from 4" to 12", both reflectors and refractors, working my way up to the ones I have now.

My interests now are in both day to day photography and astro-photography which is both difficult and satisfying. I really like the technical aspects of the hobby.

Larry Thomas

I was lucky enough to be able to retire at an early age, I don't have to go to work in the morning.

I bought my first scope, an Orion 8" dobs, in 2000. After a few years of trying to find things, I decided to move up. What a jump, a Celestron Nexstar 11GPS. I've upgraded the hand controller, and most of the accessories.

I enjoy doing the public viewing sessions we do here in the park, especially when I hear that "W O W" when folks first look through the eyepiece.

My favorite things to look for are, comets, galaxies and minor planets. So come out and enjoy the night skies with us.

Vince Giranda

Since I could remember, I had wanted a telescope. For various reasons, it was not to be. After I got a little older, other interests came to the fore: Getting an education and job, raising a family, etc. On my 49th birthday, I woke up with the epiphany, “Hey, I can now afford a telescope!”

At that point in 2009 I purchased my first telescope, a Celestron 9.25 inch SCT on a CGEM mount. Very soon after that, while searching for the closest dark spot to my home in Gurnee IL, I stumbled upon the BSRAAA group (yet to be named). The interactions with BSRAA members helped me to quickly increase my astronomical understanding and enjoyment. I have subsequently added a Astro-Tec 80mm f/6, for guiding and wide-field viewing, as well as DSLR gear for photography.

My current interest is in deep-space objects and photography. Other interests include woodworking, gardening, and canoeing.

Mike Baron

I got into the hobby from a buddy of mine who mentioned telescopes and how cool the skies looked, so I went to Amercian Science & Surplus. They had a star gaze on a Friday night, and someone said people go to Bong to observe. I went and Met Dave & Larry and I was hooked.

Other hobbies are Home Theater, 2 channel Hi-Fi, Drag Racing, and Kite Flying.

© 2010