Star Parties Coming Up in Oregon Coast Range, Gorge, Prineville
(Manzanita, Oregon) – This weekend brings the galaxy and astronomy a little bit more down to Earth in the Gorge and the Oregon coast range, while next weekend does the same in eastern Oregon, in Prineville. (Above: Cannon Beach at night)
OMSI, Rose City Astronomers, and Vancouver Sidewalk Astronomers are hosting Star Parties on Saturday, May 25 at Rooster Rock State Park and at LL Stub Stewart State Park, while Oregon Parks and Recreation (OPRD) hosts another in Prineville on June 1.
The OMSI Star Parties start at 8:30 p.m. this Saturday. From beginners to experts of all ages, here's your opportunity to view the stars and other celestial objects up close and personal through telescopes. Viewing highlights includes Jupiter, Venus, Saturn, the waning gibbous moon and more.
On the scheduled day of each OMSI Star Parties, it is suggested that interested visitors call the OMSI Star Parties Hotline, 503 797-4610 press #5 then #3, or check the OMSI Star Party web site for possible weather-related cancellations. The event starts at sunset and is free with $5 parking per vehicle. Warm clothing and a flashlight with red light are recommended. Personal telescopes and binoculars are welcome.
To reach Rooster Rock State Park, take I-84 east of the Sandy River at exit 25. The park is located 22 miles east of Portland. (Near Depoe Bay at night).
To reach L.L. "Stub" Stewart State Park, take US-26 west of Portland and turn right on OR-47. The park is located 23 miles west of Portland.
In Prineville, viewings of Saturn will be the highlight of the annual Star Party at Prineville Reservoir State Park on Saturday, June 1. The planet will be sharing the night sky with colorful star clusters, nebulae (interstellar clouds of dust and gases), and distant galaxies. All will be observable from the park's day use area, where stargazers can gather by a permanent observatory housing "Big Doug," a 16-inch telescope.
The Oregon Observatory at Sunriver and OPRD are co-organizers of the event, which invites "partygoers" to peer through Big Doug and other telescopes provided by professional and amateur astronomers beginning at 10 p.m. A 30-minute orientation---"A Guided Tour of the Night Sky"---will precede the viewing. (Above: Yachats at night)
"Central Oregon skies are usually clear and generally free of light pollution, which allows for unforgettable views of night sky objects," said Paul Patton, the interpretive coordinator for eastern Oregon with the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD). "Prineville Reservoir in particular is an incredible location for stargazing. The annual star party is a great summer activity for families to enjoy."
The star party starts at noon with a variety of astronomy-related exhibits and activities for all ages in the day-use area. Evening activities and presentations leading up to the main stargazing event will include children's activities focused on rocketry, impact crater formation, and solar energy; an introductory talk on the planet Saturn; and "Exoplanet Report; A Look at Worlds Beyond the Solar System," a special presentation at 7 p.m. by renowned space artist and photographer John Foster focusing on the search for habitable planets outside of our solar system.
Prineville Reservoir State Park offers nearly 100 campsites for both RV's and tents, for those wishing to spend the night. See www.oregonstateparks.org or reserve by phone at 1-800-452-5687.
Prineville Reservoir State Park is located 16 miles southeast of Prineville on Southeast Juniper Canyon Road. More information and directions are available from www.oregonstateparks.org.
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