Stars shine bright for Western Colorado Astronomy Club | PostIndependent.com

Stars shine bright for Western Colorado Astronomy Club

Brittany Markert
bmarkert@gjfreepress.com
The Western Colorado Astronomy Club often meets in Glade Park or on the Colorado National Monument for optimal viewing away from city lights.
Submitted photo |

GO&DO

WHAT: Western Colorado Astronomy Club

WHEN: Monday, June 28, 8:45 p.m.

WHERE: 5.5 southeast from Mesa Lakes

COST: Free

INFO: www.wcacastronomy.org

As the sun sets, look up toward the heavens. The bright, twinkling lights are more than just dots littering the atmosphere. They represent stars, planets, or even galaxies.

Join the Western Colorado Astronomy Club during an outing to learn and explore the bright night sky. The group started in 1989 and is dedicated to astronomy education throughout Mesa County.

Members meet the first Tuesday of every month at Wubben Science Center on Colorado Mesa University’s campus at 7 p.m., hosting a variety of events throughout the year as well.

“We cater to all levels; we aren’t just a nerd club,” Western Colorado Astronomy Club webmaster Jim McSheehy said.

At meetings, they discuss various topics in the astronomy world, either education based or more technical, involving the science behind space.

Most viewings are held on Colorado National Monument’s campground/picnic area next to the Visitor’s Center. Events usually involve observing unique meteor showers or certain planets in orbit.

“Here in Colorado we have good [viewing] conditions,” McSheehy said.

He suggests stargazers look at the night sky a week before and after the new moon, when the sky is the darkest. Also, escape the city lights and head to higher elevations like the Colorado National Monument or Highline State Park.

Can’t make it to a higher viewing point? Your backyard works fine; just be sure to turn off all the lights surrounding you. Most planets are visible with the naked eye or binoculars.

“Interest in the sky dates back thousands of years,” McSheehy added.

Western Colorado Astronomy Club members come from all backgrounds, too. Some are scientists while others are normal folks who love astronomy. A few are even into astrophotography (taking photos of stars, galaxies and planets). Astrophotography is more technical and planned than simple viewings — hobbyists must determine which settings to shoot, which cameras and telescopes to use, and where space objects reside.

A recent addition to the group, Jared Workman provides a background in astronomy. Workman is a professor at Colorado Mesa University.

“Astronomy serves as a gateway to fascinate future generates of scientists and to inspire children to work towards a career in the sciences,” Workman said.

BEFORE THE BIG PURCHASE

Western Colorado Astronomy Club also helps enthusiasts set up newly purchased telescopes at outings and meetings.

If interested in purchasing a telescope, McSheehy suggests consulting with an expert before making the investment.

“Don’t buy a telescope,” Workman said. “Go out with local clubs instead and use their equipment. Get a decent stargazing app like Star Walk. Also, when you do buy, get something portable; the bigger it is, the less you’ll use it.”

For more information, visit http://www.wcacastronomy.org.


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