3 summer events in offing for stargazers
By Amanda Jermyn

Now that the nights are warm and the lazy days of summer are here, you might want to consider spending some time outdoors stargazing. Head out at night to a quiet beach or open space in the countryside and enjoy the pleasures of the night sky. Bring the family, a friend, a lover, a pair of binoculars, an inexpensive telescope, or just a pair of curious eyes.
While nature puts on her show for free, whether you choose to attend or not, there are a number of organized stargazing activities available in the area throughout the summer. One of the longest-running astronomy conventions in Massachusetts is the Connecticut River Valley Astronomers’ Conjunction which will hold its 27th annual gathering from July 24th to 26th. This event takes place at the Northfield Mountain Recreation and Environmental Center in Northfield, Massachusetts, and attracts amateur astronomers from across the Northeast. Events include distinguished speakers whose astronomical topics range from meteorites to life on other worlds. Enjoy stargazing sessions in the dark sky above Northfield where the Milky Way sparkles overhead. A wide variety of telescopes will be available so you can zoom in for close-up views of celestial objects. Other Conjunction activities include sunspot viewing during the day, a barbecue dinner, and camping at the beautiful Barton Cove Campground, home of nesting bald eagles. This year’s keynote speaker will be author and Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Thomas Levenson who will speak about “Newton and the Counterfeiter: The Unknown Detective Career of the World’s Greatest Scientist.” This talk, based on Levenson’s most recent book, will focus on a fascinating but little-known chapter in the life of Isaac Newton. For more information about the Conjunction, visit http://philharrington.net/astroconjunction or contact Richard Sanderson at rsanderson@springfieldmuseums.org .
Another highlight this summer is the Stellafane Convention, to be held from August 13th to 16th in Springfield, Vermont. This annual gathering began in 1926 to give amateur telescope makers an opportunity to gather and show off their creations and teach one other telescope making. In honor of the 400th Anniversary of Galileo’s astronomical use of the telescope, the International Year of Astronomy, and the 40th anniversary of the Apollo Moon Landings, the keynote speaker at the convention will be Captain Alan Bean, astronaut, moonwalker and artist. Bean was the fourth person to set foot on the moon in 1969. A key feature of the Stellafane Convention is the telescope competition which gives amateur telescope makers a chance to show their telescopes and compete in several categories for awards. For more information about Stellafane , visit http://stellafane.org/
Also this summer, the Arunah Hill Natural Science Center in Cummington, Massachusetts will host its annual Arunah Hill Days, a free family-oriented weekend of astronomy, stargazing, nature walks, and science education, to be held from August 21st to August 23rd. Saturday afternoon activities for families will feature guided nature walks, GPS treasure hunts, and a rocket building and launch fest. For more information, visit http://www.arunah.org and watch for more details in next month’s column. Another free highlight this summer is the annual Perseid Meteor Shower on August 12th. Enjoy the pleasures of the summer night sky!

Amanda Jermyn, of Longmeadow, has been a member of the Springfield Stars Club since 2000 and currently serves on the club's board of directors. For more information, visit the Springfield Stars Club Web site at www.reflector.org or call 1(800)336-9054.