Grand Teton Astronomy Day on Sunday offers activities, evening sky gazing

Grand-Teton-transit-of-venus

A time-lapse photo made using a high-powered government research telescope shows the path of Venus in front of the sun during a transit of Venus event. (NASA/ESA - click to enlarge)

From Staff Reports

Grand Teton National Park will join with the Jackson Hole Astronomy Club to celebrate Grand Teton Astronomy Day on Sunday, Aug. 19.

Several family-oriented activities are planned for Grand Teton Astronomy Day, offering park visitors and local residents an opportunity to learn about star gazing, sunspots, star clusters, galaxies and more. Events begin at 2 p.m. at the Colter Bay Visitor Center in Grand Teton, and end with a late-night star gazing session at Colter Bay on the shore of Jackson Lake.

To highlight Grand Teton Astronomy Day, specially filtered telescopes will be available to safely view sunspots and other solar features from 2-5 p.m. on the back deck of the Colter Bay Visitor Center.

Throughout the afternoon, exhibits and information tables will provide fun and interesting insight into astronomy and the Grand Teton area.

At 9 p.m. at the Colter Bay Amphitheater, park ranger naturalist Bob Hoyle, a former professor of astronomy, will present a program, “Watchers of the Sky.” Hoyle’s educational program focuses on the cultural history of astronomy and how early sky watching evolved into the sciences of astronomy and astrophysics.

As Grand Teton Astronomy Day concludes, several large telescopes will be set up from 10 p.m. to midnight along the shore of Colter Bay for participants to view stars, galaxies, nebulae and other celestial objects. Anyone planning to attend the evening program and telescope observation session should dress warmly, as evening temperatures at Colter Bay can be unexpectedly cool in August.

Hoyle hosted a Grand Teton eclipse viewing event in May at Willow Flats that was attended by an estimated 500 people, with the Teton Range providing a dramatic backdrop for the annular solar eclipse. He has worked previously as an astronomer at the Morehead Planetarium and Science Center at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. He also led a discussion and viewing in June of the rare Transit of Venus, the passing of the planet in front of the Sun as viewed from Earth.

If you missed both the eclipse and the Transit of Venus and can’t attend Grand Teton Astronomy Day, there’s still another chance to view an astronomical wonder in Grand Teton National Park.

Long-term planners and sky-watchers around the Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton area should mark their calendars for Aug. 21, 2017. On that date, a total solar eclipse will be visible in Grand Teton (but not in Yellowstone) at around 11:35 a.m. (That date is a Monday, so you might want to ask now for time off from work.)

If you go..

For more information on Grand Teton Astronomy Day, call the Colter Bay Visitor Center at 307-739-3594 or contact Jackson Hole Astronomy Club Program Coordinator Walt Farmer at 307-733-2173.

Contact Yellowstone Gate at 307-213-9818 or [email protected]

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