Normally Jane and I set up telescopes on the city sidewalk to introduce
"accidental astronomers" to the Moon and planets. We also like to
escape the city's light dome for a night with the beautiful deep sky
objects that can't be seen under city lights.
Excursions away from the city are most worthwhile when there's no bright
Moon in the sky, so we usually pick the weekend closest to New Moon.
This weekend on Saturday, February 25, we'll visit Joshua Tree National
Park with the Andromeda Society of Yucca Valley for their monthly star
party under dark skies. Imagine a sky filled with about 1,700 stars,
instead of the 20 or so you usually see from L.A.!
Early in the evening we'll have great views of the winter sky and Milky
Way, full of star clusters and nebulae. Later in the evening our planet
will spin toward the spring sky, and we'll be able to look toward
galactic north into the giant Virgo cluster of galaxies. You'll also
see meteors and earth-orbiting satellites crossing overhead.
From a dark location, you can see enough stars to see the shapes of the
constellations and easily imagine the figures for which they're named.
It's better than the best planetarium show you'll ever see!
But it is colder. If you come along, be sure to dress in lots of layers
and bring lots of water or sports drinks to stay hydrated. You also
might want to bring along a comfortable chair and a pair of binoculars
for cruising through the Milky Way and counting meteors.
The star party officially starts near sunset at 5:30 p.m. at the Hidden
Valley Picnic Area of Joshua Tree National Park.
If you are planning to come, let us know so we can be sure to connect.
The star party is sponsored by the Andromeda Society of Yucca Valley:
Old Town Astronomers http://www.otastro.org