Budding astrophysicist in the family


By Rich Creason | The Times-Post

Our grandson, Benjamin, just finished his first year at Butler studying astrophysics and astronomy. I don’t know when he became interested in this field, but he took courses in his junior and senior year of high school in Fort Wayne. I also don’t know what an astrophysicist does except look at the stars or something like that, but recently, he has shown us some of the things he has already learned.

A month or so ago, everyone was interested in looking for the eclipse. I thought I would just go outside for a couple minutes, put on my special eclipse glasses, then go back inside and watch TV. Benjamin informed us it was going to be a lot more involved than that.

First, he told us we could come to Butler and watch it with him. Then, he said if we took him to Franklin, Indiana, the total eclipse would last four seconds longer, so we could drive him there. After further study, he decided he wanted to go to San Antonio, Texas to watch it because it lasted a lot longer there. He had already checked it out and a bus ride down there would take 23 hours, he could watch the eclipse there. Then, he would get a plane ticket back to be at Butler in time for his early class the next morning. We dissuaded him from doing that.

We found out he had already researched this subject thoroughly and could tell us how long the eclipse would last in every major city from Maine to South America. We informed him we weren’t taking him to any of those places, so he finally decided to watch the light show from Butler.

Benjamin and several of his friends in his astronomy classes went to the parking garage on campus, bought a parking ticket so no one could hassle them, and staked out a spot on the top floor of the garage. They took a table and some chairs, their telescopes, computers, cameras, etc. and grabbed the best corner and set up their gear. The group took turns watching their stuff from eight in the morning until close to eclipse time. It turns out the weather here was fine (San Antonio was clouded over), and they got great pictures on their cameras and computers. We were told what time (to the minute) we were supposed to go outside in Pendleton to watch, and how to take pictures on our phones. I guess he has learned something in his studies so far.

But the eclipse was not the only time he has helped us with his field of study. Susie always watches the weather and gets worried when storms are within 100 miles of us. Benjamin always worries about us, and now he watches the storms on his computer (or somewhere) and calls us when storms are near. He might say, ”There is bad weather going to be over your house in 34 minutes coming from the south, southwest or something like that.” We have found he is at least as accurate as the TV weatherman. It’s neat to have your own forecaster in the family.

Just recently, he surprised us again. Apparently he has been studying sun spots or solar flares and stuff like that. Before the aurora borealis appeared a few days ago, he told his parents to get in the car and drive north. He took them about 20 minutes north of Fort Wayne to a spot in the country to get away from the city lights. They were able to see and photograph the lights. He had called us and told us to go outside to look. Unfortunately, it was cloudy here and we had a lot of streetlights around, so we didn’t see anything. He told us to take pictures of the sky with our phones. He said our phones would pick up colors in the sky our eyes wouldn’t be able to see. We did get a bit of color in the sky through our phones.

I don’t know what will be his next trick, but he still has a lot of school to attend, so I’m sure there will be other neat stuff he shares with us.

Rich Creason is an award-winning outdoors and travel writer whose work has appeared in local, regional, national and international publications for 40 years. Born in Anderson, he is a graduate of Markleville High School. He lives in South Madison County with his wife, Susie. He may be contacted at [email protected].

No posts to display