Under the Cover of Darkness: Star Party at Rooster Rock

While many of us were wrapping up our yard work, our barbeques, and our walks under Saturday evening’s setting sun, volunteers from Rose City Astronomers and Vancouver Sidewalk Astronomers were just coming out to play.

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The night kicked off with a gorgeous sunset over the Columbia River.

March 22 marked Rooster Rock State Park’s first Star Party event for 2014.  Organized by OMSI in partnership with Oregon State Parks, Rooster Rocks holds seven “Star Parties” throughout the year between the spring and fall equinox.  This past weekend, over 200 visitors joined volunteer astronomers along the Columbia River to look at constellations, nebulas, and Jupiter with its moons.  It was a spectacular evening.

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Poised for darkness, telescopes lined the bank of the Columbia River.

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A photographer sets up her camera to capture the magic of the evening.

Never been to a Star Party?  You still have six more chances!

Here are some tips and things to know:

  • Know before you go.  Star Parties may be cancelled due to cloud cover and/or high winds.  Call the OMSI hotline to confirm:  503.797.4000.  Press #3, then #5.
  • Arrive around dusk and well before dark.  This will give you a chance to find parking, restrooms, and a place to lay out your blanket.
  • Bundle up.  Warm days can be deceiving; bring a winter coat, hat, gloves, and maybe a hot drink!
  • Bring stargazing gear.  A flashlight with a red lens (or red cellophane) is a must for walking around in the dark – white light ruins your (and everyone’s) night vision.  Personal telescopes and binoculars are welcome.  Star charts are also a nice addition – paper copies are available at the event.
  • Expect to pay $5 for parking.  While the event is free, Oregon State Parks still requires a parking permit.  $5 for a daily, $30 for an annual, $50 for a 2-year.
  • Begin with the talk!  Just after sunset, you can join us for a presentation and get lowdown the event and the current viewing highlights.
  • Visit each ‘scope.  Volunteer astronomers bring their telescopes and their knowledge to Star Parties, and they love to share.  It’s simple.  Walk up to a person with a telescope, ask what they’re looking at, what it is, and if you can take a peek.   Never seen where stars are born?  This is your chance.
  • Lay back, and enjoy!  Star Parties are a great chance to relax with friends and family.  Grab a star chart, get out your red flashlight, lay back, and map out the night sky.  Find the Big Dipper, the North Star, your zodiac sign, or make up your own constellations.  Contemplate the stars, the Columbia River, the Gorge, and the Universe.

 

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Even the naked eye could catch the beauty of “Thor’s Crown” resting below the Orion constellation.

Upcoming 2014 Star Parties

At Rooster Rock & Stub Stewart State Parks

  • April 19
  • May 10
  • June 2
  • July 12
  • August 12
  • September 20

Special events at Milo McIver State Park

  • April 14 (Lunar Eclipse – Milo McIver ONLY)
  • October 8 (Lunar Eclipse – Milo McIver ONLY)

 

We hope to see you there!

 

For more information and other events, visit the OMSI website:  https://www.omsi.edu/starparties

 

 

 

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Posted on March 24, 2014, in Programs & Events, Weather & Scenery and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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