HAWTHORN WOODS, Ill. — Anyone curious in learning more about the night sky can attend Hawthorn Woods’ stargazing class as they gear up for their fifth season.

The program began in 2018 as the village was contemplating trying to obtain a designation as a dark sky community.

It was granted in August 2019 after Hawthorn Woods residents “bought in,” according to Kim Stewart, who runs the class with her husband Jim.

Businesses and homes are required to have their lights on timers or sensors to preserve the night sky.

“It actually took two to three years to prepare,” Steward told WGN News. “We really hit it hard and promoted the importance of preserving the night sky and migrant patterns for wildlife.”

Another area community, Westmont, is trying to follow Hawthorn Woods’ lead by offering a dark sky grant program.

Like many other outdoor activities, COVID-19 created demand for the class, something the Stewarts didn’t have in their first couple of years.

“It went from four families in the first year to around 20,” Stewart said. “Since then we are enjoying a healthy registration list. It’s all ages and multi-generational. We have seen ages two to 80.”

The class provides telescopes and will go over things like the planets, constellations and what to look out for while stargazing.

A stargazing class

Typical planets that can be seen are Jupiter, Saturn and Venus. One time in 2021, Stewart said stargazers were able to see the passing of the International Space Station.

Spots are still available for the two nights of classes on Oct. 11 and Oct. 18. It is $25 per household for residents and $35 per household for non-residents.

To sign up email kstewart@vhw.org.