Continuing Ed: Astronomy

Alan Seamans will lead a sky watching evening on Saturday, September 28, from 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. at Great Salt Bay Farm in Damariscotta. Rain dates are the following three nights (Sunday 9/29, Monday 9/30, Tuesday 10/1).

Meet at the parking lot. Participants should bring a flashlight or headlamp for walking to the field. (If you want to use a light while sky watching, cover the lens with red cellophane to protect the group’s night vision.) Bring a camp chair or blanket to sit on; wear a warm coat, hat, and mittens. Binoculars are welcome but optional. Alan will bring star maps, planispheres, and a laser pointer.

If the weather forecast is for a cloudy evening, we will email you about a substitute date by 10 a.m. on the scheduled day.

Because the event depends on clear skies and not everyone can stay open for rain dates, this class is free. Donations are most welcome. (A suggested amount would be $15, the standard fee for a CE class.)

From Alan:

Everything that Maine Master Naturalists study can be learned indoors within a classroom. But that’s not how we do things in the MMNP. We are engaged with nature and believe in the unique experiences and insights found only by being outdoors. Astronomy is no exception. Sure, there are portable and fixed planetariums, but they are no substitute for immersing yourself in a dark sky filled with stars, planets, nebulae and other phenomena. You inhale the chill night air, touch the dew-covered grass, and listen to calling crickets. A flashing meteor reveals the blinding speed at which we are really traveling while we sit seemingly motionless.

We’ll take in the full extent of the Milky Way from south to north and pick apart subtle textures of light and dark. The giant planets Saturn and Jupiter will glow in the south. We’ll view the Summer Triangle and early fall constellations.

Stargazing is as much about time as it is space; I’ll point out the most distant object you can see with the naked eye, so far away that its light has been traveling since the dawn of humans. Other stars will have shed their light more recently. How close can we get to key events in our lifetimes?

As a group I hope we’ll take time to ponder our place in the vastness of time and space. Perhaps share our thoughts about the fragile world we live upon.

Astronomy evening in Damariscotta, Sept. 28