Library's Star Party to reveal the heavens for new and experienced stargazers alike
Telescopes and experts will be on hand for the Nobles County Library's Nov. 18 Star Party event at Minnesota West Community & Technical College.
WORTHINGTON — The skies above will serve as entertainment at the Nobles County Library ’s Nov. 18 Star Party, which will bring giant telescopes, astronomy experts and stargazing novices together to view — and learn about — the heavens.
“We will look at the stars, planets, the Moon, galaxies and star clusters and simply enjoy the night sky in ways that most people never get much of a chance to do,” said Paul Seifert, a professor at Minnesota West Community & Technical College , which is also hosting the event in the northeast corner of its parking lot, next to the observatory. “I’m also going to hand out some star maps and teach people how to use one to find the constellations in the sky.”
Seifert will kick off the Star Party with an opening presentation at 5:30 p.m., followed by a 7 p.m. program from Mike Lynch, a retired WCCO meteorologist who has been hosting star parties and teaching astronomy since 1972.
The big draw of the Star Party, though, will be the winter skies themselves. Participants will get a chance to see the night sky through telescopes most people wouldn’t own or have a chance to use, Seifert said, and they’ll get to ask the two experts questions about what they’re seeing, too.
Everyone is welcome to attend, including children, and people with binoculars or telescopes of their own should bring them, said Daniel Mick, adult services librarian with the Nobles County Library .
They should also wear warm clothes, Seifert said, as telescope observing often means a lot of standing around without much physical activity.
“In a large clearing by the Minnesota West Observatory, even a little November wind can make it feel cold quickly,” he warned.
Hot cocoa and cider will be served as well.
If the weather is bad, or if it’s too cloudy, there is a Plan B, Mick said, and the group can go indoors to Minnesota West ’s theater, where Seifert will have a presentation about the solar eclipse ready. If the group goes indoors, face masks are required in accordance with Minnesota West’s policies.
“Telescopes will be out either way,” Mick said.
Party-goers don’t need to know any astronomy before they go, and should leave behind any preconceived ideas about how things actually look in the telescopes, Seifert said.
“Most people are familiar with the images from the Hubble Space Telescope or NASA,” Seifert continued. “Those images are highly processed and enhanced, sometimes using wavelengths of light that humans can’t see, so while they look great, they are a bit unrealistic on what things look like in smaller telescopes.
“On the other hand, the light that left the Andromeda galaxy spent 2.5 million years travelling through space only to pass through the telescope and end its long journey in your eye. That gives you a connection to the sky that cool NASA images never will.”
To register for the Star Party, call (507) 295-5340 or visit the Nobles County Library.