Jimmy Westlake: You’re invited to the “Stagecoach Star Party” | SteamboatToday.com

Jimmy Westlake: You’re invited to the “Stagecoach Star Party”

Bright planets Venus, right, and Jupiter are still hanging out together in the western sky at dusk. They are separating a little each night after their closest approach last week. A small telescope will also reveal Jupiter’s four giant moons — Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto. Both planets will be viewable at the Stagecoach Star Party Friday night.

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

Do you own a homemade or commercial telescope and enjoy sharing celestial sights with other folks? Then come on down to the shores of beautiful Stagecoach Reservoir on Friday night and set up your ’scope for some shared public viewing.

Do you have a telescope that is gathering dust and cobwebs in the garage, closet or attic because you aren’t sure how to use it or maybe it is missing a piece? Bring it on down to the Star Party, and I or someone else will help you get it operational.

Do you not own a telescope but would love the opportunity to see the rings of Saturn for yourself? Then the Stagecoach 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 Venus, Jupiter and Saturn will be strung out across the sky, perfectly placed for viewing. I will be your host and will provide a guided tour of the summer sky. We’ll learn some constellations and see some magnificent deep-sky objects.

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

Along with your favorite telescope, I would 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 Routt County Road 14, turn left and continue past the main Stagecoach State Park entrance. After passing mile marker 4, turn left onto Routt County Road 16 toward Lynx Pass. Follow C.R. 16 around the lake (Note: C.R. 16 makes a left turn in front of the Eagle’s Nest town homes) until it T-bones into Routt County Road 18A and turn left. This road will take you down to the Morrison Cove Boat Ramp parking area and the Stagecoach Star Party.

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 and his “Cosmic Moment” radio spots can be heard on local radio station KFMU. Check out Jimmy’s astrophotography website at http://www.jwestlake.com.

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