Jimmy Westlake's Celestial News column appears monthly in the Steamboat Today.
Find more columns by Westlake here.
You are invited — yes, you! — to join other astronomy enthusiasts from across the community at what is being billed as the first annual “Stagecoach Star Party” at 9 p.m. Friday at the Morrison Cove boat ramp on the south shore of Stagecoach Reservoir. It’s a short and beautiful 30-minute drive from Steamboat Springs to Stagecoach State Park off Routt County Road 14.
Do you own a homemade or commercial telescope and enjoy sharing celestial sights with other folks? Then come on down and set up your ’scope for some shared public viewing.
Do you have a telescope that is gathering dust and cobwebs in the garage, closet or attic because you aren’t sure how to use it or maybe it’s missing a piece? Then bring it on down to the Star Party and I or someone else will help you get it operational.
Do you not own a telescope, but would love the opportunity to see the rings of Saturn and the moon’s cratered landscape for yourself? Then the Stagecoach Star Party is for you, too.
When the sun goes down Friday night and the stars pop out, we hope to have lots of different kinds and sizes of telescopes aimed skyward for all to peep through. The planets Mercury, Mars and Saturn will be strung across the sky, perfectly placed for viewing, and the gibbous moon will be hanging there for us to explore, too.
The Stagecoach Star Party is free and open to all ages, although park officials remind visitors that a valid annual state parks pass or a daily pass is required on all vehicles. The $7 daily passes will be available on site.
Besides your favorite telescope, I would recommend bringing along a camp chair or two, some insect repellant, a small red-filtered flashlight and a jacket for the cool mountain air after sundown.
To get to the Morrison Cove boat ramp parking area from Steamboat Springs, take Colorado Highway 131 south to C.R. 14, turn left and continue past the main Stagecoach State Park entrance. After passing mile marker 4, turn left onto C.R. 16 toward Lynx Pass. Follow C.R. 16 around the lake (note: C.R. 16 makes a left turn in front of the Eagle’s Nest townhomes) until it T-bones into C.R. 18A, and turn left. This road will take you down to the Morrison Cove boat ramp parking area and the Stagecoach Star Party.
I hope to see you there.
Jimmy Westlake teaches astronomy and physics at Colorado Mountain College’s Alpine Campus. Check out Westlake’s astrophotography website at www.jwestlake.com.