Summer skies bring perfect time to watch the best in stars
By Amanda Jermyn



Now that the warm summer nights have arrived, what better way to celebrate than with a night out under a clear, bright starry sky? After dark, head away from the city lights to an open field or beach. Bring the family, a friend, a lover, a pair of binoculars, a telescope, or just your own two curious eyes.
For a smorgasbord of stargazing activities try one of the many organized events held in the area throughout the summer. One of the highlights 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 NASA, Hofstra University and the Springfield STARS Club takes place during Tanglewood on Parade, on Tuesday, August 3rd, 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, Jupiter, star clusters and nebulae after dark. There will also be exhibits on the science of music, the sounds of the Sun, and the musical compositions of Galileo’s father. The musical program for Tanglewood on Parade features works by John Williams and, for the finale, Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture, followed by fireworks. For more information, please see Tanglewood on Parade on the Boston Symphony Orchstra website at www.bso.org.
This year Stellafane, the 75th Convention of Amateur Telescope Makers, will be held from August 5th through 8th 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 Dr. Constance “Connie” Rockosi, Assistant Professor of Astronomy and Astrophysics at UC Santa Cruz, and Assistant Astronomer at UCO/ Lick Observatory who will discuss her work on building the Sloan Digital Sky Survey telescope and CCD camera. 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 28th annual Connecticut River Valley Astronomers’ Conjunction from August 20th to 21st at the Northfield Mountain Recreation and Environmental Center in Northfield, MA. The Conjunction will include safe sunspot viewing, night-time observing, an astronomical flea market, and a round-table discussion on urban legends and misconceptions in astronomy. This year’s keynote speaker is author Marcia Bartusiak who will discuss the discovery of the true nature and size of the universe. Camping is available at Barton Cove on the Connecticut River. For more information, visit http://www.philharrington.net/astroconjunction.
And don’t miss this year’s Perseid Meteor Shower, a free show, brought to you by nature, which peaks the night of August 12th and early morning of August 13th. With 50 to 60 meteors per hour expected, this may be the best meteor shower of the year. Enjoy the summer night skies!