Sunday, April 18, 2021
Stargazers to Train Focus on the Messier Objects Tonight
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Orion, named after a hunter in Greek mythology, is one of the most recognizable constellations in the night sky. PHOTO: Wikipedia Commons
   
Saturday, March 13, 2021
 

BY KAREN BOSSICK

You can have a two-for-one tonight with a look at Sun Valley’s dark skies coupled by a collective howl to boot.

The newly named Central Idaho Night Sky Seekers, or CINSS for short, will hold their first night watch party of the year at 7 p.m. tonight—Saturday, March 13.

This night will be devoted to the Messier objects—nebulae and faint star clusters first cataloged by French astronomer Charles Messier and published in 1774.

There are two times a year when it’s possible to see all 110 of his “M” objects in a single evening, said Kristin Fletcher, one of the leaders of the new group. And tonight and one time in early fall are those times.

“This is also a terrific time to see the last of the great winter constellations Orion, Taurus, Pleiades (Seven Sisters), Gemini, Lepus the Hare and bright bright Sirius (the Dog Star), plus the arrival of Leo and other spring constellations,” said Fletcher. “Mars is well positioned for viewing, too.”

Stargazers will meet at the Croy Canyon Trailhead five miles west of Hailey. Turn west at the Hailey traffic light at the corner of Luke’s Pharmacy and LL Green. Follow the road past Hop Porter Park, Mountain Humane and the Rotarun turnoff and look for a small green street sign on the right that says “Trailhead.” It marks the BLM’s motorized vehicle trailhead.

Star seekers are asked to turn their headlights off as they turn onto Trailhead Road and use parking lots to drive in to preserve everyone’s night vision. Bring warm clothes, a chair if you like, a flashlight (preferably with a red filter) and telescope or binoculars if you have them.

Tim Frazier hopes to have a new telescope he just built for deep sky viewing on hand.

Kristin Fletcher will point out constellations with a laser as Frazier trains his telescope on the west and works toward the east.

And, of course, everyone is invited to take a moment to howl in appreciation of the health care workers who have spent the past year fighting the COVID battle in the valley at 8 p.m. The howl reprises the nightly ritual that took place at the beginning of the pandemic.

If somehow the weather doesn’t cooperate, the group plans to meet on Sunday at the same time and same place.


 

 

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