The 29th annual Winter Star Party is to take place at Camp Wesumkee, a Girl Scout camp at mile marker 34.5 off U.S. Highway 1 on Scout Key, formerly known as West Summerland Key. The Lower Keys southern location and relative absence of artificial lighting at night create optimal viewing conditions.
As many as 600 amateur and professional astronomers from around the world are to participate, attracted by the chance to view the Southern Cross and other southern constellations. The Florida Keys are among the only places in the contiguous United States where those celestial objects can be seen.
In addition to nightly stargazing opportunities, Winter Star Party participants can attend lectures and presentations by nationally recognized astronomers and guest speakers. They include astro-photographer and event director Tim Khan and star party founder Tippy DAuria, a widely renowned planetary astronomer and astro-photographer.
Participants also can shop for astronomy equipment from on-site vendors, display their skills in photo contests, take lessons to enhance their mirror-grinding prowess, compete for raffle prizes and exchange information with fellow astronomy aficionados. Special Kids Kamp activities are arranged for young astronomers.
The gathering is hosted by Miamis Southern Cross Astronomical Society. Founded in 1922, the SCAS is one of the oldest amateur astronomical societies in the Western Hemisphere.
Viewing of the night skies is scheduled to begin at approximately 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday, Feb. 4-9, and continue until dawn. Event participants must depart Camp Wesumkee by 10 a.m. Sunday.
The Winter Star Party is open to the public as well as to SCAS members, though advance registration is required for the event. Tickets are not available for sale at the event.
Event information and registration: www.scas.org
Lower Keys visitor information: www.fla-keys.com/lowerkeys or 1-800-872-3722
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