Visitors were treated with clear skies to the universe during the night sky program on Saturday night. Niobrara State Park (NSP) invited Bill Hittle to the park to host the “Night Sky Program and Constellations by Bill Hittle” event this past Saturday evening.
Bill Hittle of Homer, along with the help of Tom Widner, Ken Long and Brian Cain, provided the tools and knowledge to view the planets and constellations from atop NSP.
Hittle explained the proper settings of a digital camera to capture the Milky Way along with locating Mars, Venus, Saturn and its moons, Polaris star and the Milky Way.
“We hope to gain more interest in astronomy and create awareness of how beautiful the night sky really is,” Hittle said. He hopes that everyone took away some interest in the view of the night sky from a dark sky location.
Niobrara State Park Superintendent Mark Rettig visits Hittle’s workplace for some park business and the two began talking about the observatory that Hittle recently built. One thing led to another and they settled that Hittle would bring a couple of telescopes up to the park and set them up.
Hittle has been interested in astronomy for about 10 years. As a photographer, he was searching for new subjects to photograph which led him to astronomy. “I thought the sky would be an unlimited source,” Hittle said. “The only problem is you need to be up after midnight to get the best viewing,” Hittle continues.
Hittle has hosted a few of these programs the past year but Niobrara was the only that was officially scheduled.
For Hittle, astronomy is a hobby. “The first telescope that I purchased was a Celestron C9.25 which is mounted on a pier in my observatory,” said Hittle. He also has a Celestron 9.25 SCT F10, Celestron 10inch newtonian F6, Celestron C5 SCT F10 and a Skywatcher 8inch F5.
The main telescope in his observatory is a 12.5 inch Cave Astrola F6 that was in Dordt College observatory. “I also have a Coronado PST solar telescope. The sun is a constantly changing body that I never get tired of watching,” Hittle said.