Starry, starry summer nights beckon
By Amanda Jermyn



It’s that time of year again, time to savor the beauty of a summer night sky. While the starry skies are yours to enjoy on any clear night, there are also a number of organized stargazing activities in the area throughout the summer.

When skies are clear, the Amherst Area Amateur Astronomers Association will host the following free programs during the summer: solar observing on Saturdays at 1pm at Mount Pollux in Amherst; night sky observing on Saturdays at 9pm at the Amherst College Wilder Observatory; and observing on Sundays at sunset at Mount Pollux. For more information on these and other events visit http://www.astronomyassociation.org/.

The 36th annual Connecticut River Valley Astronomers’ Conjunction will be held on the weekend of July 14th at the Northfield Mountain Recreation and Environmental Center in Northfield, MA. The keynote address will be given by award-winning UMass astronomer, Grant Wilson, Ph.D., on the topic, “Unveiling the Enshrouded Universe with the Large Millimeter Telescope.” Other talks include “A Half Century of Astronomical Spectacles” by Richard Sanderson, retired Curator of Physical Science at the Springfield Science Museum, and “The Next Great American Eclipse,” by popular astronomy author Phil Harrington. Telescope making expert, Dave Kelly will present “An Old-School Machinist’s Version of the Classic Dobsonian Telescope,” and there will be a “Star-Filled Tribute to Dr. Richard Scott and John Davis,” featuring Lynne Scott and Ed Faits. Other activities include solar and nighttime observing, a swap table, camping at Baron’s Cove on the Connecticut River, and an outdoor dinner. For more information visit http://philharrington.net/astroconjunction.

This year, Stellafane, the 83rd Convention of Amateur Telescope Makers, will be held from August 9th to 12th 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 Samuel D. Hale and Todd Mason on “The Past, Present and Future of Large Professional Telescopes.” Hale is Chairman and CEO of the Mount Wilson Institute and the grandson of well-known astronomer George Ellery Hale. Mason is a composer, digital animator and film maker who created the PBS documentary, “Journey to Palomar.” Kristine Larsen, professor of geological sciences at Central Connecticut State University, will deliver the Shadowgram address on “Strange Scenes at Stellafane I have Known and Loved.” The Convention includes several other talks, as well as a workshop on “Antique Telescopes, Observatories and Related Equipment.” 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/.

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 August 10th to 19th. Come for a night or stay for all ten days. 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 by Sky & Telescope Chief Editor, Alan MacRobert, as well as lectures by prominent astronomers such as optical designer Alan Nagler. 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 31st to September 2nd. This family-oriented weekend includes stargazing, guided nature walks, geocaching, 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. Talks include a presentation by amateur photographer, John Nardacci, on his night sky photography around the area, including Arunah Hill. 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!