According to the folks at Hobbs State Park-Conservation Area in Rogers, clear, crisp winter days make for excellent viewing of the night sky. So pile on those layers and pull on the parka, then head to the park this Saturday, Jan. 12 for the first in a series of free astronomy programs presented by the Sugar Creek Astronomical Society.
After a beginning astronomy program, participants will use powerful telescopes to view the stars. Jack McDaniel, the astronomical society’s president, plans to begin the sky tour with the Orion Nebula (M42), birthplace of countless stars, and visible even using binoculars. He adds that the young stars forming the famous Trapezium and part of the ghostly nebula itself will be visible through the telescopes.
You will also view Jupiter through the telescopes with four of the largest moons visible. The planet will be exceptionally bright because it is “only a few weeks past opposition with the sun.” The “belts” of Jupiter should be clearly visible and prominent as well.
Other sky wonders McDaniel plans to point out include the Andromeda and Pinwheel galaxies and numerous open and globular star clusters, including the Pleiades in the constellation Taurus. He says the Pleiades, or Seven Sisters, are one of the loveliest sights in the sky, especially through binoculars. Other binocular objecs include star cluster known as the Hyades with the orange giant star Aldebaran in the same field of view.
So, bring you binoculars and/or telescope, and a star chart if you have one. You’ll also need a flashlight covered with a red cloth or red balloon. You also might want to bring a chair for each person in your group.
The beginning astronomy class starts at 4:30 p.m. with the night sky observation at 5:30 p.m. Meet at the park visitor center located on Ark. 12 just east of the Ark. 12 and War Eagle Road intersection. The program is free. For more information call, 479-789-5000.
Other 2013 astronomy programs at Hobbs State Park
- March 16
- Class at 6:30 p.m.
- Viewing at 7:30 p.m.
- July 27
- Class at 7:30 p.m.
- Viewing at 8:30 p.m.
- September 28
- Class at 6:00 p.m.
- Viewing at 7:00 p.m.
- November 2
- Class at 5:30 p.m.
- Viewing at 6:30 p.m.