What better place to have a star party than Big Sky Country? The answer of course…is none!
The Central Montana Astronomy Society hosts this excellent event once a month at the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center in Great Falls. Lewis and Clark relied on the stars (and also of course on Sacajawea) to guide their expedition to the territory that would eventually become the Mountain West states we live in today. So obviously, there’s no better setting in which to host such a “stellar” event.
During the monthly star party, the USDA Forest Service works with the astronomy society to set up large telescopes for public viewing, as well as provide interesting explanations of the constellations and stars being viewed.
Some of the constellations we’ll be lucky enough to see from Great Falls in the fall and winter of the year may include:
Andromeda – before she was made popular by the 80s cult flick “Clash of the Titans,” Andromeda, or the “Chained Lady,” was making movie magic in the night skies. This lovely constellation is characterized by the spiral Andromeda galaxy, one of the most distant objects visible to the naked eye, and very similar to our Milky Way galaxy. In fact, in most sci-fi films that propose the existence of extraterrestrial life, the aliens commonly come from the Andromeda galaxy.
Cassiopeia – this constellation is easily recognizable due to the “W” shape formed by its five bright deep-sky object stars. In ancient Greek mythology, Cassiopeia was said to boast about her unrivaled beauty. Today, this constellation sits with Andromeda on the South side, and they are both lovely.
Perseus – another constellation in the Clash of the Titans myth! Perseus can be recognized by several deep sky objects, including double clusters, planetary nebula and emission nebula. It’s also the location of the radiant of the annual Perseids meteor shower.
Pisces – one of the zodiac constellations, Pisces is “the fish.” This constellation is commonly represented as two fish, each of which is tied to the same point by a long length of string. The fish are connected at the tails. Ancient Greek and Babylonian astrologers commonly represented this constellation this way in their drawings.
Aries – another zodiac constellation representing “the ram.” Even though it remains recognized as one of the 88 modern constellations, its deep sky objects are very dim. The Astronomy Club members will probably be able to help Star Party attendees locate this obscure constellation.
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