Starry nights make summer special
By Amanda Jermyn



What better way to spend a warm summer’s night than lying on a beach looking up at the stars? Back in the days when I was a teenager I remember doing just that. Stretched out on the sand, my star-crazy date and I gazed in wonder at the night sky and discussed the mysteries of the universe. Wherever you are, on a sandy beach or grassy hilltop, treat yourself to a little stargazing this summer.

Here in New England one of the many organized stargazing events is the 30th annual Connecticut River Valley Astronomers’ Conjunction which runs from July 20th to 21st at the Northfield Mountain Recreation and Environmental Center in Northfield, MA. Conjunction activities include astronomy presentations, solar and night time viewing through dozens of telescopes, an astronomical flea market and an outdoor buffet dinner. Programs include a roundtable discussion on observing challenging celestial objects led by Sky & Telescope columnist Sue French and Astronomy magazine contributing editor Phil Harrington. Sara Schechner, curator of Harvard University’s Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments, will give the keynote address on “Politics and the Dimensions of the Solar System: Colonial American Observations on the Transit of Venus.” Glenn Chaple will talk on “Saturday Morning Star-toons,” Richard Sanderson will discuss “Science in the age of Misinformation,” and Ron Woodland will talk on “Operation Moonwatch: Amateur/Professional Collaboration at the Dawn of the Space Age.” For more information visit http://philharrington.net/astroconjunction or contact Richard Sanderson at rsanderson@springfieldmuseums.org. The deadline for registration is July 13th.

This year Stellafane, the 77th Convention of Amateur Telescope Makers, will be held from August 16th through 19th 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 speakers will be The Meteorite Men, Steve Arnold, world famous meteorite hunter, and Geoff Notkin, science writer and owner of Aerolite Meteorites. Their televised meteorite hunting adventures have been featured on The Science Channel, PBS, The Discovery Channel and others. In addition, Al Takeda, laboratory manager at Harvard University School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, will offer an astro-imaging workshop, with an emphasis on low-cost equipment. A workshop will also be held on Historical Telescopes and Related Instrumentation: Conservation and Study. A key feature of the Stellafane Convention is the telescope competition which gives amateur telescope makers a chance to compete for awards. For more information about Stellafane, visit http://stellafane.org/ .

Another stargazing highlight is Arunah Hill Days at the Arunah Hill Natural Science Center in Cummington from August 31st to September 3rd. This free family-oriented weekend includes stargazing, nature walks, GPS treasure hunts, rocket building, launching, and science education. For more information, visit www.arunah.org.

And don’t miss this year’s Perseid Meteor Shower, a free show, brought to you by nature, which peaks the nights of August 11th and 12th through the early morning of August 13th. On Saturday, August 11th the Amherst Area Amateur Astronomers Association, together with the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, will host a Star Party on Mount Greylock starting at 8pm to coincide with the Perseids. For more information, visit www.mtgreylockstarparty.org.

Make some magical memories this summer while enjoying the starry night skies!