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.