Jimmy Westlake: Stagecoach Star Party will ‘Embrace the Moonlight’ | SteamboatToday.com

Jimmy Westlake: Stagecoach Star Party will ‘Embrace the Moonlight’

June's nearly full Flower Moon will rise above Stagecoach State Park on Saturday during the Stagecoach Star Party. Come and embrace the moonlight with other astronomy enthusiasts at the Morrison Creek Boat Ramp on Saturday beginning at 9 p.m. Bring your telescope and the whole family for an unforgettable evening of astronomy beneath the starry sky.

You are invited to join me and other astronomy enthusiasts from across the community for the Stagecoach Star Party at 9 p.m. Saturday at the Morrison Cove Boat Ramp on the south shore side of Stagecoach State Park. It’s a short, and beautiful, 30-minute drive from Steamboat Springs to Stagecoach State Park, off of Routt County Road 14.

If you own a homemade or commercial telescope and enjoy sharing celestial sights with others, then come to the shores of beautiful Stagecoach Reservoir on Saturday and set up your scope for some shared public viewing.

If you have a telescope that is gathering dust in the attic because you aren’t sure how to use it or maybe it is missing a piece, then bring it to the Star Party, and I or someone else will help to see if we can get it operational.

If you do not own a telescope but would love the opportunity to see the rings of Saturn and the moons of Jupiter for yourself, then the Stagecoach Star Party is for you, too. We hope to have lots of different kinds and sizes of telescopes aimed skyward for all to peep through.

This year at the Stagecoach Star Party, we will be embracing the moonlight. June’s nearly full Flower Moon will be rising in the southeastern sky as darkness falls, right alongside the ringed planet Saturn. We’ll talk about the origin of Earth’s unusual moon and learn about some interesting legends and folklore.

The bright moonlight won’t hinder the viewing of the three bright evening planets — Mars, Jupiter and Saturn —that will be strung across the sky similar to a string of Christmas lights.

The Stagecoach Star Party is free and open to all ages, though park officials remind us that a valid annual Colorado State Parks pass or daily pass is required on all vehicles. The $7 daily passes will be available on site.

Besides your favorite telescope, I recommend bringing a camp chair or two, some insect repellant, a small red-filtered flashlight and a jacket for the cool mountain air after sundown.

To get to the Morrison Cove Boat Ramp parking area from Steamboat Springs, take Colorado Highway 131 south to C.R. 14, turn left and continue past the main Stagecoach State Park entrance. After passing mile marker 4, turn left onto C.R. 16 toward Lynx Pass. Follow 16 around the lake (Note: 16 makes a left turn in front of the Eagle’s Nest town homes) until it T-bones into C.R. 18A and turn left. This gravel road will take you down to the Morrison Cove Boat Ramp parking area and the Stagecoach Star Party.

Bring the whole family. I hope to see you there.

Professor Jimmy Westlake teaches astronomy and physics at Colorado Mountain College’s Alpine Campus. His “Celestial News” column appears weekly in Steamboat Today. Check out Westlake’s astrophotography website at jwestlake.com.

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