Talks Announced for the Darkest Sky Star Party

Posted by Michael Bakich
on Monday, September 11, 2017

NGC 4151 (left) and NGC 4145 lie in the northern constellation Canes Venatici. They are examples of objects that will be explored in one of the talks at the star party. // Mark Hanson
On Friday and Saturday, October 13 and 14, Dark Sky New Mexico (DSNM) and The Albuquerque Astronomical Society (TAAS) will host a star party in southwestern New Mexico. The second America’s Darkest Sky Star Party will occur in Animas, New Mexico, a lovely area dominated by antique silver mining that now boasts one of the best skies in the world for stargazing.

Along with a clear dark sky, one of the highlights of any star party is the lectures that attendees hear. And this star party will feature four excellent ones.

Two sets of illustrated talks — with lunch and solar observing in between — will take place Saturday, October 14, in the Animas Community Center located at 21 Maverick Road. Two members of the TAAS will be among the presenters for this event along with Astronomy’s Editor, David Eicher, and Senior Editor, Michael Bakich.

Dale Murray, President of TAAS, will be the first speaker. His talk, “Basic Telescope and Mount Designs,” is a great introduction for observers who are looking to purchase a telescope.

Pickering's Triangle, here shown in false-color, is part of the huge Veil Nebula complex in Cygnus. The giant star that formed this network of gaseous filaments became a supernova more than 5,000 years ago. // Dan Crowson
Bakich will follow Murray. His topic is “Star Death!” It deals with the births and lives of objects like the Sun. But those are only part of the story. Because after they die, stars become some of the strangest objects in the universe.

After a break for lunch, attendees will do a bit of solar observing. We’ll look at the Sun through a Hydrogen-alpha telescope. Such an instrument allows only a particular wavelength (656.28 nanometers) of the Sun’s light through. But even though it’s a tiny percentage of our star’s output, we’ll see the Sun’s chromosphere and any prominences that are dancing at its edge.

TAAS member Dee Friesan will begin the afternoon session. His talk is called the “Fabulous 50, Fall Version.” It is one of four that he presents — one for each season — and it is intended to orient the attendees to the current constellations and to allow them to find objects in and around those constellations. In it, he also shows how to use a star chart.

Finally, David Eicher will present, “The Science of Galaxies.” This fascinating look at the universe’s star cities will address the history of these objects, our current state of knowledge of them, and their evolution as the universe ages.

All speakers will allow time for questions after their talks.

Sound good? Then join us. To register for The Darkest Sky Star Party, click here.

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