Updated - Oregon Astronomy: Coast Range Star Party, Meteors, Planets
Published 07/22/2015 at 6:04 PM PDT
(Portland, Oregon) – Here's a chance to party with the stars – those in the sky, that is, along with the moon. Shooting stars, the rings of Saturn, more planetary fun and a lunar viewing party in the Oregon coast range and Gorge are all in the works.
It starts this weekend, with free star parties on Saturday, July 25 at Rooster Rock State Park and Stub Stewart State Park. The parties are put together by the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI), Rose City Astronomers and Vancouver Sidewalk Astronomers. Those start at 9 p.m.
This is an opportunity to view the moon, stars and other celestial objects up close and personal through telescopes. Viewing highlights include Saturn and waxing gibbous moon, several star clusters, and more! The angle of the sun will cause deep shadows to fall on the moon's surface, making its highlands and craters more easily visible.
OMSI's Jim Todd said the events are open to all ages. Rooster Rock State Park is located 22 miles east of Portland on I-84 just east of Sandy River at exit 25. To reach L.L. "Stub" Stewart State Park, take US-26 west of Portland and turn right on OR-47. While the events are free, there is a $5 parking per vehicle. Warm clothing and a flashlight with red light are recommended. Personal telescopes and binoculars are welcome.
On the scheduled day of each OMSI Star Parties, it is suggested that interested visitors check the OMSI Star Parties web site for possible weather-related cancellations.
For those around Oregon and those visiting the Oregon coast, you'll want to keep looking up at night.
After a stunning close pairing earlier this month, Jupiter and Venus remain in the night skies just after dusk, although they are now considerably farther apart. On the Oregon coast, this has made for fascinating sunsets. Jupiter is slowly disappearing from view, while Venus is sticking around a bit. It remains high above the horizon, shining brighter than any other star.
You can see time lapse video below of the two at their closest as they dip below the horizon on the north Oregon coast on July 1.
Saturn will be visible all night, from dusk until dawn, close to Libra. Astronomers say that the planet's rings will host a special sight for those with telescopes. They are now quite spread out at 24o from edge-on. See a picture here of Saturn's rings at this time.
In two years, in October of 2017, the rings will be at their maximum inclination, open as wide as they can be.
More serious interstellar fun is coming up in August with the annual Perseid meteor shower. This will start yielding as many as 90 meteors an hour for some observers around August 12. The pinnacle of the showers is at that time, but it has already slowly started. The night sky fireballs will really pick up next week, and by the first week of August we'll also be briefly dealing with the Delta Aquarid meteor shower.
More of the Oregon coast and interstellar sights below.
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