The University Center of Southern Oklahoma will host a late night stargazing party on June 16 and everyone is invited.
The party will start at 8 p.m. and last until 10 p.m. Guests can bring their own blankets and pick a spot to star gaze. Interim President and CEO Peggy Maher, who has a background in aerospace education, will lead the party.
“We wanted to do something for the community and we were looking for activities we could hold,” Maher said. “This area is away from the city lights and we have a lot of open space.”
The center isn’t the only perfect fit for the idea. Maher used to direct NASA’s aerospace education program.
“I think it’s going to be cool,” Maher said.
The night will start with a few activities before sunset, which is expected at about 8:45 p.m. Guests can also take building tours of the university center. Once the sun goes down, the center will have telescopes set up and trained on different parts of the sky.
“That way, you can go from telescope to telescope and see different things,” Maher said. “Then we’ll also have an outdoor screen showing NASA videos.”
A third section of the parking lot will be set up for a sky scavenger hunt. Participants can use one of four different apps to find constellations in the sky.
“They overlay the names of the objects and constellations as they move the phone around the night sky,” Maher said.
She said she picked Friday, June 16 because the moon will be in the gibbous crescent phase and the summer solstice will only be five days away. In addition, Jupiter and several of its moons, the Big Dipper, Aquila the Eagle, Bootes and Arcturus, Lyra the lyre, Virgo and Spica and the North Star should all be visible the night of June 16.
The center will provide free popcorn and a truck will be selling snow cones. Maher said she is considering holding a second event in July.
Amateur astronomers looking to share their telescopes for the party can contact the university center about getting involved. For more details in the lead-up to the stargazing party and a list of apps for the scavenger hunt check http://www.ucso.osrhe.edu/ or the UCSO Facebook page at https://bit.ly/2sve4WI.