Summer nights fine for area star gazers
By Amanda Jermyn



As a child growing up in Cape Town, South Africa, I loved being taken to the movies at the Alhambra Theatre. Along its interior walls were the facades of Moorish palaces, and up on the ceiling was painted a dark blue sky full of wondrous twinkling stars. The Alhambra Theatre is long gone but it lives on in the minds of those who fell under its magic spell. Now that summer is upon us here in New England, take some time out to view the real stars of the night sky in all their natural glory.

One of the many stargazing events of the summer is “Music and Astronomy under the Stars,” held at Tanglewood, the annual summer music festival in the Berkshires, summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. This joint venture of the Springfield STARS Club, NASA and Hofstra University takes place during Tanglewood on Parade, on Tuesday, August 2nd, starting at 2.30pm and continuing late into the night. A tent and telescopes will be set up on the lawn, just inside the main gate at Tanglewood. The program features stargazing for adults and children, with telescope observations of the Sun prior to the concert, and of the Moon, Saturn, Neptune, star clusters and nebulae after dark. There will also be exhibits on the science of music, the sounds of the Sun, Galileo and his telescope, and more. The musical program for Tanglewood on Parade features works by Tchaikovsky, Wagner and Vaughan Williams and, for the finale, Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture, followed by fireworks. For more information, please see Tanglewood on Parade on the Boston Symphony Orchestra website at www.bso.org.

This year Stellafane, the 76th Convention of Amateur Telescope Makers, will be held from July 28th through 31st 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 speaker will be Jane Luu, a member of the technical staff at MIT Lincoln Laboratory and co-discoverer of the Kuiper Belt. Luu will speak on Pluto, Comets, and the Kuiper Belt: Taking an Inventory. The talk will discuss our latest view of the small icy bodies in the Solar System and explain their interrelations. 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 the 29th annual Connecticut River Valley Astronomers’ Conjunction from August 26th to 27th 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 round-table discussion of vintage telescopes and other cosmic collectables, and a key note talk by Ken Launie on Early Telescopes and their Makers. Kevin Kopchynski will discuss Dark Matter and Dark Energy in the Universe and David Wexler will talk on The Search for Planets Orbiting Distant Stars. Astronomy author Phil Harrington will discuss and sign copies of his latest book, “Cosmic Challenge.” For more information visit http://philharrington.net/astroconjunction or contact Richard Sanderson at rsanderson@springfieldmuseums.org.

And don’t miss this year’s Perseid Meteor Shower, a free show, brought to you by nature, which peaks August 12th to 13th. Enjoy the summer night skies!