On Nov. 10 the Cedar Breaks National Monument and the Ashcroft Observatory hosted a stargazing party at the observatory. The graduates of the Fall 2017 Cedar Breaks Master Astronomer Program led the event. Community members were led by graduates in viewings of the night sky with the naked eye and through telescopes.
The event was an opportunity to not only witness the beauty and majesty of the night sky on a clear night but to learn a little more about it. Despite the cold temperature, community members of all ages participated in the Autumn Star Party.
Leesa Ricci, an instructor of the 2017 Cedar Breaks Master Astronomer Program, said that the ultimate goal of the program is to essentially make astronomy more accessible.
“ … but also to make sure that people are aware of the night sky and preserving the night sky so that we have it for future generations,” Ricci said.
There are other reasons that the Cedar Breaks Master Astronomer Program wants to teach people about the sky and stars. One reason is to work towards better educating the public about not only the wonders of the night sky, but also about light pollution.
Think of the night sky as a car windshield. If the windshield is clear, then the driver can see through it and look at everything in front of them. If it is dirty, then their view of what is around them is obscured and at least part of what they should be able to see is lost. With this light pollution, future generations maybe not even have a reason to take an interest in astronomy.
Cedar Breaks National Monument Park Ranger Shannon Eberhard, a graduate of the Master Astronomer Program, said part of the reason she got involved with the program was because “learning about the broader spectrum of the universe is humbling and pretty wondrous.”
Some of those wonders on display at the Autumn Star Party were Saturn and Uranus, various star clusters, the Andromeda Galaxy and an amazing view of our own Milky Way Galaxy.
The Ashcroft Observatory, located at 745 Hillcrest Dr, is open every Monday night with free admission to the public.
Carlee Jo Blumenthal