DATEBOOK : NELLYSFORD : ROCKFISH VALLEY “STARRY NIGHT” GATHERING : May 16th

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ROCKFISH VALLEY “STARRY NIGHT” GATHERING

The Rockfish Valley Foundation, Central VA Master Naturalist Chapter and the Charlottesville Astronomical Society (CAS) invite you to join us for an evening of stargazing on May 16 at Spruce Creek Park. The event is open from 6:30 to 10:30. Bring your picnic, enjoy a country sing-a-long and some-mores (provided) around a campfire. Stargazing will start at approximately 8:30. This event is open and free to the public. Parking is available off Glenthorne Loop. Rain date is May 17.

CAS members will be on hand with their telescopes and binoculars to provide views of a number of celestial objects. The 12 day-old moon will dominate the evening sky. You can expect to see lunar features such as craters, maria, mountain ranges, and valleys. Mercury will be an “evening star”, visible low in the western sky at sunset. Saturn will be well placed to display its rings, which will be at near-maximum tilt for this year. You will also be able to pick out its largest moon, Titan. Mars, although not nearly as close to Earth as it was at the beginning of this year (and therefore much smaller in appearance), will be west of Saturn in the sky and possible to see, too. In the northern sky, you will be able to view the companion star of Polaris (not visible to the naked eye) and also look at the double star, Mizar, in the Big Dipper. A variety of the brightest deep-sky objects may also be visible, including the Beehive (an open galactic star cluster), one or two massive globular star clusters, and perhaps a few northern galaxies.

For further details, contact: Peter Agelasto at 434 361–2251; More about the sponsors: www.cvilleastro.org, www.rockfishvalley.org or www.virginiamasternaturalist (click on Central Blue Ridge Chapter under “chapter link.”

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