Ain't no party like a Star Party

Last Sunday night was  nice night for looking at our planets.  Saturn was at Opposition, meaning the Earth was passing directly between the Sun and Saturn.  A lovely effect was to make Saturn bright and clear in the night sky.  That combined with still excellent views of Venus, Mars and Jupiter made for a great time to see much of our solar system.  Oh, and the moon wouldn't rise until the very early morning hours.  The only possible problem was clouds or a bad see (atmospheric turbulence).  The clouds cleared at dusk and left us with a really spectacular view.

That's right: us.  I threw my first star party!

It started with a Facebook post inviting anyone interested out to a park near my home.  It ended with 25 people (many of them kids!) getting a great look at our neighbors in the solar system.  Most people were seeing Saturn and others for the first time with their own eyes, and I found it deeply moving to see they too were awed by the scope and beauty of our Universe.  Once it was too late for the kids to hang, some of the adults stuck around to check out some deep sky objects: star clusters and the occasional nebula.

If you've never been to a star party, I highly recommend it.  Just bring some bug spray!