NORWAY — The stars aligned for them 30 years ago and it could be said they are once again aligning.

Norway residents Tom and Lynn Hoffelder met roughly three decades ago in the Florida Everglades when their respective astronomy clubs held a joint star party to look through telescopes into the heavens.

“We met and we were introduced,” Lynn said. “Of course, it was dark and we didn’t know what we looked like for a couple of months,” she said laughing in the driveway of their Bear Way home.

The couple married and stayed in Florida for a few years, before his job with Pratt and Whitney took him to Oklahoma, California and Connecticut before coming to Maine.

In their retirement, the couple has decided to host Astronomy at Roberts Farm Preserve events at the farm preserve on Roberts Road. They got the stamp of approval from Western Foothills Land Trust Executive Director Lee Dassler, whose organization is in charge of the conservation and recreation activities there. The events are free and open to the public. They aren’t planned too far in advance because the weather can change in an instant and clear skies are necessary for proper star gazing.

The Hoffelders bring their three telescopes to the events. Lynn calls them “Papa Bear,” “Mama Bear” and “Baby Bear,” because they are large, medium and small.


“(It’s) a lot easier to set these up in the daytime,” Tom said. “I can see what the heck I am doing.”

They started a different version of local stargazing this past spring, setting up their telescopes in Butters Park on Main Street in Norway and near the Gingerbread House at the opposite end of the street. The plan is to start the sidewalk astronomy next spring when the planets are more visible.

“For people on the street you need something that’s easy to see and of interest to people who don’t know anything of astronomy,” Lynn said.

Tom and Lynn have also been participants in the monthly Open Observatories held at Twitchell Observatory in Paris.

“It is kind of complimentary to the Twitchell Observatories and the sidewalk (astronomy). It is another facet of the whole thing,” Tom said.

The first event at Roberts Farm Preserve’s parking lot was held Nov. 9 and about 20 people showed up; half of them were home-schooled students.


“It was quite a treat for them and for the parents too,” Tom said. “It worked out good.”

Tom got his first telescope 40 years ago in 1975 and has been hooked on stargazing ever since. He and Lynn wanted to share their passion with the greater Oxford Hills community.

“I think the Western Foothills is doing some really great stuff and I wanted to do something to help get some focus on them too and do stargazing at the same time,” he said.

To find out about events join the Astronomy at Roberts Farm group on Facebook, at Tom will post there if they’re planning an event and update as necessary with the weather forecast.

[email protected]

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.