"Astronomy" to guest at Starfest in New York City’s Central Park!

Posted by David Eicher
on Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Milky Way looms large overhead. // Credit: Panagiotis Katsichtis
If you haven’t already heard, Astronomy magazine will participate in a large star party event in New York City on October 20, 2012, designed to allow thousands of people to get their first glimpse through a telescope. This major event to be held in Central Park will be hosted by the Amateur Astronomers Association (AAA), the long-established and largest club in the New York area. Also involved as partners in this venture will be Tele Vue Optics and Adorama. The American Museum of Natural History and Rose Center will also be involved in the event. I will be representing the Astronomy Foundation as well, and I hope other foundation officers will join me there.

Astronomy magazine Senior Editor Rich Talcott and I will be on hand for the stargaze. I’ve been asked by the AAA to give a sky tour talk about what’s up there to look at and about the different components of the solar system, the Milky Way Galaxy, and the universe at large.

We’ll have plenty of literature, magazines, “Welcome to Astronomy” booklets that will introduce newcomers to the hobby, and other fun things. Al Nagler will be on hand from Tele Vue Optics, and Mike Peoples from Adorama also will be in attendance. Congratulations to Susan Andreoli, vice president of AAA, and Marcelo Cabrera, AAA’s president, for organizing this big undertaking.

For publicity info about this event, please contact Astronomy Foundation Vice President and Publicity Director Karen Jennings at k.jennings@astronomyfoundation.org.

Here is the press release from the AAA:

Amateur Astronomers Association of New York
 Sponsors October 20 Urban Starfest in Central Park

The Event: On Saturday evening, October 20, the Amateur Astronomers Association of New York (AAA), in conjunction with the NYC Urban Park Rangers, will take Manhattan on a tour of our solar system and universe during its annual Urban Starfest in Central Park’s Sheep Meadow.

Honored guests this year include David Eicher (editor in chief) and Richard Talcott (senior editor) from Astronomy magazine, and Tele Vue founder and chief optical designer, Al Nagler. Joining the event as well will be Adorama Camera, a longtime friend and supporter of AAA.

Central Park's Sheep Meadow. // Credit: Charles Smith
The Sheep Meadow is an open area of the park, free of glare from local lighting, where the majority of the urban night sky can be seen. There will be telescopes of various magnifications and design, capable of reaching out into the Milky Way Galaxy and beyond. Come have a look at the universe just a mile from Times Square and easily reachable by public transportation.

The event will begin at dusk, when trained AAA observers will be setting up their scopes and determining their celestial targets. Guests are welcome to come early, watch this process, and speak with AAA members and supporters about telescopes, astronomical binoculars, and solar observing equipment.

The People: Just as important as what you will see is who will join you on your journey to the stars. AAA publicly promotes science education and culture throughout the five boroughs. Its goal is to teach, educate, and foster a culture of stargazing and public science engagement. Member observers will take you on your first steps to understanding our cosmos. Those with more advanced knowledge will be able to discuss astronomy with their peers. For kids, astronomy is the gateway to the sciences. Seeing Saturn's rings or Jupiter's moons is a source of wonder and amazement that can dramatically change one’s perspective.

The AAA Urban Starfest strives to plant new seeds of curiosity (much like NASA has planted its Curiosity rover on Mars) — not just about astronomy, but about science, technology, engineering, and math. The supportive environment of this Central Park event is the perfect venue to meet helpful and friendly people dedicated to sharing what they've learned. Although observing the night sky is the focus of the evening, Starfest is about making new friends and talking to people about new and amazing things.

Each year, this event brings hundreds of New Yorkers together to share the experience of viewing the skies above Manhattan.  Intrepid AAA observer teams staff 15 to 20 telescopes and astronomical binoculars of various magnifications.

The Technology: Tele Vue Optics telescopes and eyepieces, Celestron NexStars, Orion StarBlasts, SkyProdigys, and more, telescopic guidance systems have progressed tremendously.  Learn and observe AAA members as they program their scopes to point to the cosmos. Sky Safari, Starwalk, Google Sky Map, Space Map — there are many excellent apps for phones and iPads alike. Watch as AAA members research targets and scout the sky with the latest software. CCD cameras, DSLRs set to infinity, there are many ways to capture images by letting in starlight.  Bring your own equipment and discuss imaging techniques with member photographers.

Our Targets: Our astronomical targets will be both near and far.  In our solar system, the cloud bands of Jupiter, its moons, and our Moon will be easily visible. Beyond, we will observe distant galaxies, star clusters, and nebulae. The sky is filled with opportunities each night.

Directions: Enter at Central Park West at 67th Street, walking past the parking lot for the old Tavern on the Green towards the Sheep Meadow, a wide-open space. Look for a table staffed by Park Rangers and AAA members at the entrance to the meadow.

About AAA: Founded in 1927, The Amateur Astronomers Association of New York is dedicated to educating residents of the metropolitan area in the science of astronomy. In addition to observing sessions in four boroughs and upstate, AAA sponsors a monthly lecture series, offers astronomy classes and seminars throughout the year, publishes a monthly membership news journal, Eyepiece, and provides a wealth of information on its website for current events and astronomical content.

Rain Date: In case of a clouded over sky or rain, Urban Starfest will be held the following evening, Sunday, October 21.

Please visit us at www.aaa.org/starfest.

See you in New York!

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