See the Universe

Those who haven’t seen nature’s glorious nighttime spectacles through telescopes this year, and those who crave a repeat, have another chance at a free public star show.

Siegfried Jachmann, vice president of the Salt Lake Astronomical Society, says the group will hold its last star party of the year on Saturday, Oct. 10. The location is the Stansbury Park Observatory Complex at Stansbury Park, Tooele County, about 40 minutes from downtown Salt Lake City.

[M66, a galaxy I photographed a few years ago]

During the session, which starts at 7 p.m. and ends three and a half hours later, visitors will be able to scope out Jupiter and its four large moons, double stars, galaxies, star clusters and other space objects, he said.

“Fall is a great time to observe the heavens,” Jachmann added. “Some of the finest deep sky objects are visible this time of year including the Andromeda Galaxy. Andromeda is 2.5 million light years away and is the nearest galaxy external to the Milky Way. It’s also the farthest object most people can see with the naked eye.”

Besides three powerful telescopes that are permanently mounted — including the Grim telescope with its 32-inch-diameter mirror — many fine portable telescopes will be available to the public, he noted. Often from 20 to 30 of these will be operated on the observatory grounds by private owners who are members of the club.

“Amateur astronomers love to share their telescopes, enthusiasm and knowledge of astronomy,” Jachmann added, “so come on out and spend an evening and learn more about your place in the universe.”

An adjacent recreation area hosts abundant free parking spots. Groups are welcome and reservations are not needed. However, the star party will not be held in the case of rain, snow or clouding over.

Jachmann provided these directions to the observatory complex, which is affectionately known by the acronym SPOC: “From Salt Lake take I-80 west to the Stansbury/Tooele exit 99. Go south about 3 miles, turn right at the Maverick gas station and follow the signs to the observatory.”

For a map showing SPOC’s location, CLICK HERE.

Information about the society and how to join are on its main web page, LOCATED HERE.

While visiting the Internet site, don’t forget to visit the members’ astrophoto gallery.

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