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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.

comet C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE)Sunday July 12 s1.jpg
Paul Seifert, astronomy instructor at Minnesota West Community & Technical College, took this image of Comet C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE) at 4:43 a.m. Sunday from Worthington's Sunset Park. The brightness reflecting off the lake at right is Venus, and the Pleiades star cluster is visible in the upper right corner. (Special to the Globe)

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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.

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“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.

comet C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE)Sunday July 12 s1.jpg
Paul Seifert, astronomy instructor at Minnesota West Community & Technical College, took this image of Comet C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE) at 4:43 a.m. Sunday from Worthington's Sunset Park. The brightness reflecting off the lake at right is Venus, and the Pleiades star cluster is visible in the upper right corner. (Special to the Globe)

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A 1999 graduate of Jackson County Central and a 2003 graduate of Augsburg College, Kari Lucin started writing for newspapers in Minnesota and North Dakota in 2006. During her time as a reporter, she covered beats including education, watershed, county and agriculture, and frequently wrote about health and science. She has also served as an online content coordinator and an engagement specialist at various Forum Communications properties. She was a marketing assistant at Iowa Lakes Community College in Estherville for two years, where she did design work in addition to writing and social media management.

Lucin is currently a community editor with the Globe of Worthington.

Email: klucin@dglobe.com
Phone: (507) 376-7319
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