Now that the warm summer nights are upon us, take time out to gaze up at the sparkling wonders of the night sky. Find a dark, quiet open space out in the countryside, and bring the family, a friend, a lover, a pair of binoculars, a telescope, or just your own inquiring eyes.
While nature puts on her show for free there are also a number of organized stargazing activities available locally throughout the summer. Consider attending the 31st annual Connecticut River Valley Astronomers’ Conjunction, now likely in its final year. Events run from July 12th to 13th at the Northfield Mountain Recreation and Environmental Center in Northfield, MA. Conjunction activities include astronomy presentations, solar and night time viewing through telescopes, an astronomical flea market and an outdoor buffet dinner. Kevin Collins will give a talk on his experience building a telescope, Richard Sanderson will talk about the Maksutov telescope design and its integration in amateur telescope making, and Tim Connolly will show breath-taking photos of the aurora. In addition, Jack Megas and Kevin Kopchynski will talk on “The REAL Star of your Birth.” The keynote address will be given by Bob Berman on “The Mysteries of the Sun’s Heartbeat.” Berman will discuss how the Sun affects health and technology, and ultimately, our future. He will finish with a look ahead to the most spectacular astronomical events of the next decade. Berman is the author of nine books, is a former astronomy editor of the “Old Farmer’s Almanac,”editor and columnist for “Astronomy Magazine,” and has appeared on numerous TV shows. For more information visit http://philharrington.net/astroconjunction or contact Richard Sanderson at firstname.lastname@example.org. The deadline for registration is July 6th.
For a combination of music, art and astronomy, consider attending Solid Sound, the Wilco Music and Arts Festival held on June 21st and 22nd at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art in North Adams. Listen to the music of Wilco and other popular bands while stargazing through telescopes provided by the Springfield Stars Club. For more information, visit http://solidsoundfestival.com/.
Also on June 22nd, the Amherst Area Amateur Astronomers Association, together with the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, will host a free public star party at the summit of Mount Greylock, and another on August 10th, to coincide with the annual Perseid Meteor Shower. For more information, visit www.mtgreylockstarparty.org.
This year Stellafane, the 78th Convention of Amateur Telescope Makers, will be held from August 8th through 11th on Breezy Hill in Springfield, Vermont. This annual gathering gives amateur telescope makers the opportunity to show off their creations and teach one another about telescope-making. The keynote speaker will be Guy Consolmagno on “Comet Tales: Our changing view of these Cosmic Vagabonds.” Consolmagno studies the physics of meteorites and asteroids and serves as Curator of Meteorites at the Vatican Observatory. He is co-author of the popular sky guide, “Turn Left at Orion.” Additional speakers include Glenn Chaple, on “Observing Double and Triple Stars,” Al Takeda, on “The Wonderful World of Wideangle Astroimaging,” and Phil Harrington on “How to make your own Observatory.” A key feature of the Stellafane Convention is the telescope competition which gives amateur telescope makers a chance to compete for awards. There will also be astronomy activities for children, aged 5 to 12. 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 30th to September 2nd. 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.
Enjoy the brilliant night sky show, brought to you, as always, by nature!
Copyright © Amanda Jermyn