BY AMY SAYLE
On April 4 and 5, 2014, forty sites from the mountains to the coast will host skywatching sessions for the public, as part of North Carolina’s second annual Statewide Star Party. Hosts include astronomy clubs, parks, nature centers, planetariums, observatories, museums, and universities.
What might you do at a star party event?
1) Look through telescopes. Virtually all star party events will offer telescope observing, many of them with the generous help of local astronomy clubs.
2) Observe the Sun. Several sites will host daytime events with safe solar observing, including Catawba Science Center, Crowders Mountain, Howell Woods, Kathleen Clay Edwards Library, Marbles Kids Museum, Medoc Mountain State Park and Yadkin County Park.
3) See the Moon. The waxing crescent Moon will be up during the afternoon and evening of April 4 and 5.
4) View Jupiter and Mars. Through a telescope, you can see up to four of Jupiter’s moons, too.
5) Gaze at the stars. Constellations such as Orion and Leo will decorate the evening sky.
6) Do other activities. Depending on which event you choose, you can hike on a dune, paddle on a lake, design an alien, build a moon phaser, test your astronaut skills, touch a space shuttle tire, check out robot driving races or participate in a phases of the Moon basketball challenge.
Find a star party event near you at the NC Science Festival website. You can see detailed listings by filtering the online calendar for the event dates April 4 and 5. (Note: A couple of star party events have been re-scheduled for April 11 or April 12.) Most events are free. A few require advance registration.
Important! Most events are weather permitting. Check with individual sites about any back-up plans they may have in case of clouds or rain.
Photo credit: Statewide Star Party sites are located throughout North Carolina. Skywatching at Jordan Lake by Brian Owen