Levels I & IC: The first level, Level I, is designed for beginners and requires participants to use green lasers to find six anchor constellations of the summer sky and Polaris. They are also required to look at three different objects through telescopes. The second level is Level IC (C for “Challenge”). It is for kids who have completed Level I before, or for kids who feel up to more of a challenge. Level IC participants must fulfill all of the same requirements as Level I, and also find four additional constellations. They also get to slew an actual telescope around the sky for a few minutes, looking at anything that comes through the eyepiece.
Levels II & IIC: The third level, Level II, is designed for and restricted to kids who have previous experience using binoculars or telescopes, and familiarity with several common constellations. They must find the same six constellations as Level I, five bright stars, and find three deep space objects from five different categories, plus one solar system object (other than the Earth) that must be sketched. The fourth level, Level IIC, is designed for and restricted to kids who have completed Level II before. These participants must find the same 4 additional constellations that Level IC participants find, and one more deep space object than Level II. Like Level II, they must also find and sketch a solar system object. If a child is experienced with a telescope or binoculars and would prefer the additional challenge of completing Level IIC, then the Program Coordinator would consider allowing him or her to bypass Level II. Admission into Level II or IIC must be granted by the Program Coordinator.
Junior Level: The fifth level is the Junior Level. Designated “Jr.”, this program is for very young children who want to do what their older siblings are doing, or children with physical or developmental challenges. To complete this level, a child only has to “find” the Big Dipper and Polaris. (The judging is not rigorous.) Upon completion, the child is immediately eligible to pick out a star pillow prize and have an ice cream treat-without waiting for other children to complete anything. A parent or guardian must attend the program with these youngsters. Junior Level participants are not eligible for telescope or binocular prize drawings.
Adult participants will follow the exact same programs as Level I or Level IC for kids described above. It’s for people who would like to learn some constellations right along with their children or just for their own interest. There are no Level II or Level IIC equivalents for adults. Adults completing the program are eligible to be entered in a drawing for a restaurant gift certificate.
How to Participate
Those wishing to participate in any level of the programs must sign up at the Nature Center by 7:45 p.m. Friday or Saturday. Participants will be given a Sky Trekker (or Sky Trek Adult) booklet and a planisphere (limit: one planisphere per family). A Sky Trekker/Sky Trek Adult Launch Session will be held each evening (Friday & Saturday) at 8:00 p.m. in the Nature Center. Sky Trekker and Sky Trek Adult examinations will begin at 10:00 p.m. or whenever it gets dark. Upon completion of the program, all participants will receive an ice cream treat. Participants who successfully complete their program will be recognized with a certificate and will have their names put into a drawing for a very nice prize!
The Sky Trekker program was featured in the March 2009 issue of the Astronomical League’s Reflector magazine. The article is here. A pdf file of a recent Sky Trekker booklet is here.