Join us in Tucson for a day of Sun and stars

Posted by Michael Bakich
on Monday, January 06, 2014

Members of the Tucson Amateur Astronomical Association set up solar telescopes to allow visitors to view the Sun during the 2013 Tucson Public Star Party. // photo by David J. Eicher
On Saturday, February 8, 2014, Astronomy magazine will host its second annual all-day skywatching party at the East Campus Observatory of Pima Community College (PCC). The event also will feature illustrated talks on a variety of subjects. Activities begin at 10 a.m. and continue all the way through 9 p.m.

Some of the speakers include Keith Schlottman, past-president of the Tucson Amateur Astronomy Association (TAAA); Scott Kardel, president of the International Dark Sky Association; Mike Reynolds, dean of Liberal Arts & Sciences at Florida State College at Jacksonville and a contributing editor of Astronomy; and Astronomy Editor David J. Eicher.

Throughout the day, members of the Tucson group will operate several solar telescopes that will give visitors safe, high-quality views of some of the features visible on the Sun.  Then, about an hour after our daytime star sets (at 5:04 p.m. Tucson time), we’ll begin the second phase of skywatching: nighttime observing.

And in addition to telescopes set up by the astronomy club, the Pima Community College Observatory will be open throughout the day and night. Its solar telescope will follow the Sun in the daytime, and its 14-inch telescope will target deep-sky treats at night.

Even before it gets dark, telescopes will turn toward the 70-percent-illuminated Moon. The next object telescope operators probably will target is Jupiter. It lies some 25° east of the Moon in front of the stars of the constellation Gemini the Twins.

photo by Phil Jones
As twilight ends, the Pleiades star cluster (M45) will come into view. This will be a great object to view through binoculars and telescopes with a wide field of view. The Orion Nebula (M42) also will be a highlight. This star-forming region is the middle “star” in the constellation of the Hunter.

Fellowship with other star-gazing enthusiasts, interesting speakers, and the prospect of clear skies mean that the 2014 Tucson Public Star Party is shaping up as a “must-see” event. So, when you make plans to come out, be sure to bring family and friends. And remember, the star party will be held February 8 at the Pima Community College East Campus Observatory, 8181 East Irvington Road, southeast of the center of the city.

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