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2 the Outdoors: Stargazing at Penn Dixie Fossil Park

The simple act of peering into the night sky can be a wonderful and transformative experience.

HAMBURG, N.Y. — The universe has inspired humanity from artists to philosophers to the common observer. It is both incomprehensibly large and breathtakingly beautiful and we can all benefit from peering into the sky. 

That's why Penn Dixie Fossil Park in Hamburg is briefly diverting from their explorations underground to look upward as they sponsor stargazing events this summer. 

"We have an excellent horizon," said Ernie Jacobs who heads up the Astronomy Program at the park. "This is a 54 acre park, it's wide open and pretty much 360 degrees around. We have a great horizon, which makes this an excellent place to do stargazing."

Credit: Ernie Jacobs

The park will have telescopes available, or if you're an amateur astronomer yourself, you can bring your own. And don't forget your sense of wonder.

"Definitely your curiosity, we welcome people to bring their telescopes, especially if they're people who are struggling to use their equipment," Jacobs said. "So we encourage them to come, and if you want to bring your equipment for that purpose, try to come before sunset so we can work with you in daylight to provide some assistance and try to get you up to speed with your equipment. "

Credit: Ernie Jacobs

A good telescope these days is not too expensive, but for the neophyte stargazer, Jacobs says a good start is very simple. 

"Start with a pair of binoculars, learn your way around the night sky, they're portable, they're affordable, and they're good quality," Jacobs said.

Credit: Ernie Jacobs

Jacobs believes that the knowledge we've gained from beyond the Earth has also helped us understand and connect to life here on the planet. 

"The elements that comprise the things that Earth and life on Earth are made of were formed inside the cores of now dead stars," Jacobs said. "So we are actually part of the universe, we're connected to it and in a sense, all life and all things on Earth are connected to ourselves. "

Credit: Ernie Jacobs

Watching the stars is simple yet wondrous and even transformative, says Jacobs. 

"So I'm going to quote one of our members, one of our board members in fact. He says, 'Looking through a telescope and seeing Saturn changes your life.' I may have butchered the words exactly, but that's the concept, and I agree with that sentiment," Jacobs said.

For more information on the stargazing events at Penn Dixie, click here.