Prineville Reservoir Star Party set for May 16 (2015)
Saturn, Jupiter and Venus may steal the showViewings of three brightly lit planets will be the highlight of a free Star Party at Prineville Reservoir State Park on Saturday, May 16. Saturn, with its striking rings, will be almost fully tilted towards earth and illuminated by the sun, making this mystical planet the brightest in eight years. Massive Jupiter will showcase its cloud bands and four bright moons, and Venus will appear as a brilliant thin crescent.
The Star Party begins at 1 p.m. in the day-use area with a variety of astronomy-related exhibits and activities for all. You can peer through “Big Doug,” the park’s 16-inch telescope. Solar telescopes are available during the day, allowing safe viewing of solar flares on the sun’s surface. Both professional and amateur astronomers are on hand starting at dusk to help guide you in using the different types of telescopes and to point out significant features in the night sky. Look for colorful star clusters, nebulae (interstellar clouds of dust and gases), distant galaxies and a host of deep sky objects.
“Prineville Reservoir State Park–a prime spot along the lake surrounded by low mountains–is particularly well-known by astronomers as an excellent place for stargazing,” said Jill Nishball, Visitor Experiences coordinator for the eastern half of the state. Volunteers from the Oregon Observatory at Sunriver are returning to co-sponsor the annual event.
If you want to stay through the night, the park offers nearly 100 campsites for both RVs and tents, as well as five deluxe cabins at the main campground. All can be reserved online at www.oregonstateparks.org or by phone at 1-800-452-5687. Another 30 electrical hookup sites in the park’s Jasper Point campground are available on a first-come, first-served basis.
Prineville Reservoir State Park (park info, map & driving directions)