On Monday night, 7/29, families with children and residents of all ages turned out in numbers to see planets and distant sky objects through telescopes in the back parking lot of the Kanab City Library. The City of Kanab graciously agreed to turn off outdoor lighting at the skate park and basketball field for the occasion to enable the dark adaptation of the participants’ eyes that is essential to enjoying the full glory of a star studded sky. And that made all the difference!
At the indoor portion of the program from 8 to 9:15 pm, four speakers delivered informational presentations to an audience of 50 residents. Pipe Spring National Monument Ranger Autumn and her assistant Mary illustrated ways to reduce wasted electric light, known as “light pollution”, Stephen Howells demonstrated proper use of an astronomical telescope while Rich Csenge and Von Del Chamberlain from the Stellar Vista Observatory covered topics related to the observatory project, Kanab’s outdoor lighting ordinance, and what to expect out at the telescope field in the sky that night.
Between 9:30 and 11 pm, initial scattered cloudiness gave way to a clear and lovely night of stargazing. Four area residents set up six telescopes for close-up views of the planets, Jupiter and Saturn, plus distant star clusters like M7, M6, M4 and M22 in Scorpius and Saggitarius, and the nebulae M8, M17 and M20 along the crest of the Milky Way. Among the most memorable moments for many children was to witness the four largest moons of Jupiter, Ganymede, Europa, Io and Callisto, aligned in orbit around the planet, adorned with its two bold horizontal red stripes!
Huge thanks to Jana Lee Peay who organized the event and to Kanab Library for hosting. The community showed great interest with many present inquiring as to when the next star party would take place in Kanab. Stay tuned!