Jimmy Westlake: Yampa River Star Party this Friday | SteamboatToday.com

Jimmy Westlake: Yampa River Star Party this Friday

Jimmy Westlake, author of Celestial News.
Courtesy Photo

This coming Friday evening, I will be conducting a summer stargazing event out at the Yampa River State Park campground, three miles west of Hayden on U.S. Highway 40, beginning at 9 p.m.

This will be my third “Yampa River Star Party” event, and I am very excited about it. Last summer, we had a big gathering of astronomy lovers and did some great stargazing together. If you own a telescope and enjoy sharing celestial sights with other folks, then come on down to the banks of the beautiful Yampa River Friday night and set up your scope for some shared public viewing.

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

If you do not own a telescope but would love the opportunity to see some celestial sights for yourself, like the cratered moon, the giant moons of Jupiter and the rings of Saturn, then the Yampa River Star Party is for you, too.

When the sun goes down Friday night and the stars pop out, we hope to have lots of different kinds and sizes of telescopes aimed skyward for all to peep through. The planets Mars, Jupiter and Saturn will be putting on a great show, perfectly placed for viewing. I will be your host and will provide a guided tour of the summer sky.

This year at the Yampa River Star Party, we will be “embracing the moonlight.” July’s nearly full Thunder 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. Heck, I might even pull out my guitar and sing a few moon-themed songs.

The Yampa River Star Party is perfect for all ages, so bring the whole family. Colorado State Park officials remind us that a valid annual Colorado State Parks pass or daily pass is required on all vehicles. Daily passes will be available on-site.

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

To get to the Yampa River State Park campground from Steamboat Springs, take U.S. 40 west to Hayden. Continue on U.S. 40 another 3 miles west of Hayden and turn left into the campground. From Craig, head east on U.S. 40 for 14 miles and turn right into the campground.

The Star Party will be held on the grassy lawn in front of the Visitor’s Center. We’ll start the stargazing at 9 p.m. 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 the Steamboat Today newspaper. Check out Jimmy’s astrophotography website at http://www.jwestlake.com.

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