Amateur Astronomers Gather For 'Star Parties'
For many of us, especially those who live in the eastern half of the United States. Light pollution has taken away much of the night sky. But there are still a few spots far from the city lights and each year, amateur, astronomers gathered there with their telescopes for what they affectionately, call star parties NPR's, Scott Neuman visited one of those parties in northern Pennsylvania, should be dead center. You see it, it's just after midnight. Fred hunter, and Bob kava are looking for 'em. Eleven and open star cluster in the constellation scudo. They're using a method called star hopping. No fancy electronics just estimating angles and distances from known bright stars to find what they're looking for right there. There is concede already there's a Cassiopeia your from the cities and suburbs light pollution has all but washed out, these faint deep sky, objects and amateur. Astronomers fiercely defend the darkness here, white lights are strictly forbidden red headlamps are everywhere. Hunter is a retired school custodian from West Virginia who builds his own scopes. I come to see the different scopes to get ideas to talk to people and then the dark skies is just desert. This is the desert, this is sprinkles on your ice cream here, it is kava is a first timer from Princeton, New Jersey, I'm a chemistry professor, Ian Hunter met by chance at this year's star party after they just happened to set up their telescopes next to each other. The two ended up observing together until the small hours. This is my hobby of doing it for thirty years, or something like that. And I thought I was an extreme amateur strong. I came here, and then I saw all incredible stuff that some of these people show. With I thought I'm not crazy yet chip template is president of the astronaut society of Harrisburg that puts on the annual star party. Yeah. Where we may get one hundred good nights of observing in a year say Arezzo has three hundred good nights. So you have that to deal with, but a good night here is good night as you're gonna find one member of the Harrisburg club. Brock San Cayman is among the most serious amateur astronomers you're likely to find with her fourteen inch reflector she enjoys looking for galaxies and nebulae that most others considered just too difficult. I've always been a science geek, ever since I was a little kid came in also belongs to a citizen science organization called iota, the international tation timing association, they pool observations of the dimming of light that occurs, when an asteroid passes in front of a distant star by measuring that dip in the light, which we do with video, recorders and cameras. You measure that dip and you can actually tell the size of the asteroid recently, she. He and fellow amateurs made similar observations of Pluto, that will help scientists learn more about that planets wispy atmosphere, but most of all at least on this outing to cherry springs came in his just content to be inspired by these rare skies. And you look at 'em fifty one new sue the spirals of the arms of the galaxy. And you'd think wow, you know, our Milky Way galaxies is like that. You know, we're just this little little