The King of Planets, Jupiter, will share the night sky with colorful star clusters, nebulae (interstellar clouds of dust and gasses), and distant galaxies at the May 20 Star Party at Prineville Reservoir State Park.
“Central Oregon skies are typically clear and generally free of light pollution, the optimum mix for unforgettable views of night sky objects,” said Paul Patton, resource specialist with the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD). “Prineville Reservoir, in particular, is an incredible spot for stargazing. The annual star party is a great early-summer activity for everyone to enjoy.”
Saturday will kick off at 1 p.m. with a scaled down, guided stroll through the solar system. Young rocketeers can design, build and then safely launch their rockets at 3 p.m. followed by a special presentation about Jupiter at 5 p.m. Events leading up to the main stargazing session include a 7 p.m. presentation on astronomy with binoculars and an 8 p.m. astronomy phone apps review. At 10 p.m. “partygoers” can gather at a permanent observatory housing “Big Doug,” a 16-inch telescope, to peer through it and other telescopes provided by professional and amateur astronomers.
A new activity this year is a Virtual Reality Experience Station—goggles provided. Other activities include a solar viewing/solar eclipse information station; a telescope technology display; various children’s activities focused on astronomical science; and a Space Art exhibit featuring renowned space artist and photographer John Foster.
The historic Wolf Creek Inn north of Grants Pass has reopened for overnight stays. Built in the late 1800s as the Wolf Creek Tavern, the inn was closed the last two years during upgrades to the heating, air conditioning and fire-suppression systems. The restaurant remains closed.
The inn was a popular destination in the 1930s for famous Hollywood actors. Clark Gable visited the inn several times, and Orson Welles and Carole Lombard stayed there as well. Author Jack London completed his novel “Valley of the Moon” while staying at the inn.
The eight available rooms, each designed for two people, can accommodate up to four. Queen or twin rooms are both $80 per night, plus an $8 reservation fee. Rooms are furnished with antique or antique replica furniture. Reservations are available through October 1. Visit the park web page for more information and a link to online reservations. You can also call 1-800-452-5687 to reserve.
Free, guided tours are also available. The tours are 45 minutes and begin at 11 a.m. each day. Visitors can register at the Oregon State Parks Store or at the inn front desk.
Join us Saturday and Sunday, May 13-14 for our 39th Annual Mother’s Day Birding and Wildflower Festival! More details and an event schedule will be posted here as we draw closer to the event, so be sure to check back!