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Free Stargazing Party Set For Saturday

PORTLAND, OR -- Summer ends Friday at the autumnal equinox. "At that point in time, the sun will be directly over the equator," says OMSI Director of Space Science Education Jim Todd. Saturday evening, OMSI hosts star parties at Rooster Rock and LL Stub Stewart state parks. "On that night, or this coming weekend, we’ll have the opportunity to look at Jupiter and Saturn," Todd tells KBND News, "which is everybody’s favorite object to look at. Jupiter, in particular, is getting brighter and bigger. They’re always a showpiece; a real delight to look at." He adds, "We’re also going to be looking at other celestial wonders. Of course we’re going to talk about the Milky Way, we’re going to look at some globular clusters, nebulas. The sky is rich with things to look at."

Volunteers from Rose City Astronomers will help interpret the skies, "And this is a great opportunity to be in an environment where people are there to learn, to engage and be inspired by what they see in the sky."

Todd says the equinox is a great time for stargazing, because the nights are getting longer, providing more viewing time. 

The equinox is actually Friday, when the sun is right over the equator, "The sun will be rising directly from the east and setting directly to the west. So, if you have a sundial, this is the best day to calibrate the sundial, from sunrise to sunset." And, Todd says the 12-hour day and night means more time for stargazing. 

Saturday’s star parties start at dusk and are weather permitting. Updates will be posted to OMSI’s website that morning. They are free but require a $5 State Parks parking fee.

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