The fun starts as you walk from the parking space towards the telescope field, where eight illuminated balls of different sizes represent each planet. Each sphere has a short video on the planet, so you spend around 20 minutes learning about the planets as the sky gets darker.
Students operate the telescope helping you by finding interesting objects in the sky so you can see a closer view of what they study in astronomy. Students will have a chance to see things like Saturn, Jupiter, and deep sky objects (objects out of our solar system) like nebulas, galaxies, or star clusters.
Two 15 minutes lectures are held during the evening over constellations. As people gather around, the students will point out what you can see that night. Observatory Manager Preston Starr shared: “[People} are really amazed at what you can see in small telescopes. You always think that you would have to be in an observatory far away to look at the moons, see the craters of the moon and its features.”
Rafes Urban has been hosting Star Parties since 2007 and draws in anywhere from 60 to 200 people every month. Starr added: “They can see the night sky and find out what is out there, learn about instruments that you can use to see, and perhaps their children get inspired to want to find out more about science and in the future say ‘You know what really introduced me to science was beyond reading it in a book was going out and seeing it at a Star Party.”
Star Parties happen every first Saturday of every month, weather permitting.