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Residents at Monarch Landing Pursue Their Own Space Exploration

As American billionaires were launching themselves into space, a group of residents of Monarch Landing in Naperville was creating and introducing their own intergalactic adventure. The senior living community’s active Astronomy Club has completed their construction of a radio telescope. Last week, when Amazon founder Jeff Bezos launched his first spaceflight, the Astronomy Club presented the hand-crafted equipment to their fellow residents.

The Astronomy Club, which was founded at Monarch Landing ten years ago, is comprised of approximately 25 residents, some of whom are retired scientists and engineers, others of whom are newly curious about all things interstellar.

For many months, members of the Club had researched how to build a radio telescope, and in February, they started construction. “The radio signals from galaxies as far as 800 million light-years away have been received with the device,” said Phil Schreiner, president of the Astronomy Club. “One of the advantages of radio astronomy is that observations and measurements can be done in daylight hours, with no concern about light pollution and clouds. So the telescope observations are made in the afternoons with good attendance. The Club gave an hour-long presentation to our fellow residents on the telescope and its uses.”

The Astronomy Club has weekly meetings and special observation sessions, utilizing NASA tools, popular software computer programs, and a collection of books to study the planets and stars. They also watch videos from NASA, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), European Space Agency, and other research organizations and take video courses together.

“I am constantly amazed and impressed by the experiences and interests of the residents of Monarch Landing,” said Kelli Cox, director of resident life and wellness. “They have fascinating hobbies and are always seeking to learn new things. We love that they are using their retirement to ‘expand their horizons.’”