August is star party month

We’ve flipped the calendar to a new page, the Moon will be full tomorrow, and that means that we have star parties galore on the calendar for this week.

Table Mountain

TMSP logoThe Table Mountain Star Party is Washington’s biggest each year, and runs August 2–6 at Eden Valley Guest Ranch near Oroville, Washington. This will be the fourth year the event has been held at this location since a forest fire damaged the original site, on Table Mountain near Ellensburg, in September 2012. Preregistration for the star party is closed, but they will accept on-site registrations, which can be started by visiting the registration page on the organization’s website.

Oregon Star Party

OSP logoThe annual Oregon Star Party will be held from August 2–7 at Indian Trail Spring in the Ochoco National Forest, 45 miles east of Prineville, Oregon. The site is at an elevation of over 5,000 feet and has an unobstructed 360 degree horizon. The Oregon Star Party is considered to have the darkest skies of any major star party in the continental United States. Preregistration for the event is closed, but see the event’s registration page for information about on-site sign-ups.

Mt. Kobau

Mt. Kobau logoThe Mt. Kobau Star Party northwest of Osoyoos, British Columbia is already under way, having begun on July 30. It runs through August 7. Last year this star party ended early and abruptly as a forest fire raged through the area, threatening to cut off the way out for attendees. Fortunately, everyone escaped OK and, miraculously, the fire missed the star party site, allowing it to go on again this year. The site is at 1,800 meters. That’s above 5,400 feet for Yanks! Though it’s already under way you can still register; info is online.

Hurricane Ridge

The second of the Hurricane Ridge Star Party of the summer, organized by the Olympic Astronomical Society, will be held Saturday, August 6 at Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park. This star party is open to the public and free, though one must pay admission to the park. The last party of the summer at the site is set for September 3.

Science in the City

Brett Morris

Brett Morris

The Pacific Science Center will kick off a new lecture series called Science in the City this week. The inaugural event will take place at 7 p.m. Tuesday, August 2 in the PACCAR IMAX® Theater at the center. Brett Morris, a UW astronomy graduate student and one of the organizers of Astronomy on Tap Seattle, will talk about recently discovered exoplanets and their diverse and bewildering features. The talk includes a showing of the film A Beautiful Planet 3D. Admission is $10, free for PacSci members.

Club events

Olympic Astronomical Society will hold its monthly meeting at 7:30 p.m. Monday, August 1 in room Art 103 on the Olympic College campus in Bremerton. Program items include presentations about observing and understanding Mira variables, Astronomical League programs, and the brightest supernova in 400 years.

The Tacoma Astronomical Society‘s monthly meeting will be held at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, August 2 in room 175 of Thompson Hall on the campus of the University of Puget Sound. We have not seen specific program information. The club will also offer observing after the Jazz Under the Stars concert Thursday, August 4 in the outdoor amphitheater of the Mary Baker Russell Music Center on the Pacific Lutheran University campus in Parkland. Northwest vocalist of the year Eugenie Jones will be the guest performer this week. The concert begins at 7 p.m. Stargazing commences some time after 9 p.m. at PLU’s Keck Observatory. It’s free.

The Spokane Astronomical Society‘s monthly meeting is slated for 7:30 p.m. Friday, August 5 at the Riverview Retirement Community in the community center building. Topics and speakers for the meeting had not been published as of this writing.

Open House at TJO

Theodor Jacobsen ObservatoryThe twice-monthly open houses at the University of Washington’s Theodor Jacobsen Observatory may be the hottest ticket in town. Tickets for all of the talks for the August events have already been reserved, and the September talks are going fast. The next open house will be held at 9 p.m. Wednesday, August 3 at the observatory. Student Emily Farr will talk about Mars, and volunteers from the Seattle Astronomical Society will give tours of the observatory and, if the weather is clear, offer looks through its vintage telescope.

Up in the sky

Jupiter and the Moon have a close encounter on Saturday, and the five naked-eye planets are all visible in the evening sky in early August. This Week’s Sky at a Glance from Sky & Telescope magazine and The Sky This Week from Astronomy have other observing highlights for the week.