Starry, starry summer nights abound
By Amanda Jermyn



Several years ago my family and I visited the Waitomo underground caves in New Zealand. There we looked up in wonder at cave ceilings filled with glowworms, radiating points of bright blue light like a sky full of stars. Here in New England, on any clear night we can enjoy the pleasures of another of nature’s wonders, a sky full of real stars. There are also a number of organized stargazing activities in the area throughout the summer.

The Astronomy Association will host the following free programs during the summer: Solar observing on Saturdays from 1pm to 2pm at the UMass Star Wheel in Amherst, and an astronomy program, rain or shine, on Saturdays at 9pm at the Amherst College Wilder Observatory. For more information on these and other events visit http://www.astronomyassociation.org/.

On Wednesday, July 17th at 6.30pm astronomy educator Jack Megas will give a talk on “What Makes the Earth Special” at the Storrs Library in Longmeadow. The talk is free and open to the public.

The 84th Stellafane Convention, the granddaddy of all star parties and conventions, will be held from August 1st to 4th on Breezy Hill in Springfield, Vermont. This annual gathering gives amateur telescope makers an opportunity to show off their creations and teach one another about telescope making. The keynote address will be given by Alan Stern, Principal Investigator for the New Horizons mission. Stern will give an update on the New Horizons mission and talk about the recent flyby of the Kuiper Belt Object, Ultima Thule. There will be several other talks, including one by Phil Harrington on how to select binoculars suitable for astronomy. The convention also features telescope making classes and a workshop on “Advanced Telescope Making.” A key feature of the Stellafane Convention is the telescope competition, which gives amateur telescope makers a chance to compete for awards. In addition, there will be astronomy activities for children and teens. For more information visit http://stellafane.org/.

The 37th annual Connecticut River Valley Astronomers’ Conjunction will be held on the weekend of August 23rd and 24th at the Northfield Mountain Recreation and Environmental Center in Northfield, MA. The keynote address will be given by Diana Hannikainen, Observing Editor for Sky & Telescope magazine, on the topic of “Microquasars.” Astronomy author Phil Harrington will talk about what inspired his passion for stargazing, and retired science teacher Richard Nugent will talk on “Lunar Observing.” Physicist and planetarium educator James Johnson will discuss “The Future of Human Spaceflight,” and eclipse chaser Julie Kaufman will recount her astronomy travels. Other activities include solar and nighttime observing, a cosmic flea market, camping at Barton’s Cove on the Connecticut River, and an outdoor buffet dinner. For more information visit http://philharrington.net/astroconjunction or contact Richard Sanderson at rhs31416@yahoo.com.

You may also want to consider attending the Rockland Astronomy Club’s Summer Star Party, organized by the Northeast Astronomy Forum, at the Peppermint Park Camping Resort in Plainfield, MA. Events are open to the public and run from July 26th through August 4th. Activities include talks, dinners, a live concert, demonstrations and stargazing, with telescopes available for dark sky observing. The Summer Star Party is sponsored by Sky & Telescope magazine, which hosts a live guided sky tour . For more information visit http://www.rocklandastronomy.com/ssp.html.

Another stargazing highlight is Arunah Hill Days at the Arunah Hill Natural Science Center in Cummington from August 30th to September 2nd. This family-oriented weekend includes stargazing, guided nature walks, geocaching, astronomy talks, science education, and model rocket building and launching. Several large telescopes will be available for nighttime viewing, and astronomers will conduct constellation orientation talks. Specially filtered telescopes will be used during daylight hours to reveal sunspots and solar prominences. Food will be available, and all events are open to the public. For more information visit the Arunah Hill Facebook page or contact Barry Hervieux at bhervieux@comcast.net.

Happy stargazing, and enjoy the wonders of the night sky!