Woodstock, VT: On Saturday May 12, 2018, the Horizons Observatory will host a star party in partnership with the Springfield Telescope Makers (STM) of the Stellafane Observatory and Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park. The event will be located at the Horizons Observatory at Prosper Valley School (1071 Pomfret Road, Pomfret, Vermont) and will free and open to the public.
At 8:30 pm Rob Hanson (co-director of the Horizons Observatory) will make a 30 minute presentation entitled A Cosmic Sense of Place. At 9:00 pm, members of the Springfield Telescope Makers will have a variety of telescopes, many of them handmade, set up on the grounds and will be aiming them at a variety of deep-sky objects such as galaxies, nebulae, star clusters and planets for visitors to explore and enjoy. Rangers will also have an activity booth for astronomy-based junior ranger activities.
The event will occur regardless of weather. In the event of rain or heavy clouds, night sky viewing may not be possible but the presentation will happen regardless of weather.
Attending a night sky viewing event comes with some etiquette conventions that may be unfamiliar to first-time attendees but which enhance viewing conditions for everyone. Most importantly, bright, white lights are discouraged at night sky viewing events; bright lights ruin your night vision and the night vision of those around you. Attendees are encouraged to bring a red-light flashlight or a flashlight with a red lens or with a red piece of plastic covering the bulb. There will be a limited number of red glow sticks available for those without a red flashlight. Even with red lenses, use your light sparingly; on a clear night, your eyes will adjust quickly to the dark conditions. It is also important to remember that telescopes are expensive and that many of the telescopes at this event are hand-crafted and difficult to replace. Please follow the instructions of the STM member staffing the scope you are looking through. And finally, ask lots of questions. The amateur astronomers who are bringing their telescopes to this event love the night sky and sharing it with others.
The Horizons Observatory was founded in the summer of 2004 with a vision of creating a small astronomical observatory to serve local schools and the general public as a resource for science education in the greater Woodstock area. To this end, ongoing stargazing events are hosted by the Horizons Observatory throughout the year. (To be placed on the Horizons listserve, simply go to www.horizonsobservatory.org, click on “Blog”, type in your email address in the space provided, and click “Submit”.) As well, local students have taken over one hundred stunning photographs of galaxies, nebulae, planets, and globular clusters under the guidance of local docents. These images may be viewed in the gallery section on the Horizons Observatory website.
The Springfield Telescope Makers is a club founded by amateur telescope maker Russell Porter in 1923. The club is devoted to promoting the practice of crafting high-quality telescopes by amateur astronomers. The club owns and maintains the Stellafane Observatory on Breezy Hill in Springfield, Vermont, at which it offers free mirror-grinding workshops in the winter months and hosts the annual Stellafane Convention of amateur telescope builders and night sky enthusiasts in the summer. More information about the Springfield Telescope Makers, the Stellafane Observatory and the Stellafane Convention can be found at www.stellafane.org.
Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park, located in Woodstock, Vermont, is the only unit of the national park system established to tell the story of the history of the conservation movement in America. That story is told through the lives, experiences, and contributions of George Perkins Marsh, Frederick and Julia Billings, and Mary and Laurance Rockefeller, all of whom lived and explored the forests and fields that now make up the park. The park is open daily from Memorial Day weekend through the end of October. For more information, call 802-457-3368 or visit www.nps.gov/mabi.
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