MISSOULA – Community members are invited to explore planets, nebulas, star clusters and distant galaxies throughout the summer during stargazing nights at the University of Montana’s Blue Mountain Observatory.
UM’s observatory is located atop Blue Mountain at an elevation of 6,300 feet. Astronomers from UM and the Western Montana Astronomical Association will speak on what is viewed through the telescopes, point out constellations, show attendees how to find interesting celestial objects with the naked eye or a pair of binoculars and discuss recent astronomical discoveries.
The events are family-friendly, and all ages are welcome. Free public events will take place on the following Fridays: July 6, July 13, Aug. 3, Aug. 10, Sept. 7 and Sept. 14. Attendance is limited to 150 people each night.
This summer the Blue Mountain Observatory also will offer some limited attendance nights for those who would like a more personal experience. These nights will take place on the following Saturdays: July 7, July 14, Aug. 4 and Aug. 11. Tickets for these nights cost $20 per person, with attendance limited to 25 people or less.
For all nights, attendees are required to reserve a ticket for each person in their group via an Eventbrite link accessible from the Blue Mountain Observatory page at http://hs.umt.edu/physics/Blue_Mountain_Observatory/.
More information is available on the website about the observatory, the two types of observing night options, detailed directions and a useful map.
Observing begins about an hour after sunset. Participants should wear warm clothes for cool evenings and bring a flashlight for the walk from the parking area to the observatory. Smoking and alcohol are strictly prohibited at all events.
Viewing nights will be canceled if the sky is cloudy, smoky or thunderstorms threaten. Before heading to the observatory, look for weather and cancellation updates on the Blue Mountain Observatory Facebook page or via voicemail at 406-243-4299. A final update will go out the evening of the observation to the email address attendees enter as part of their Eventbrite registration.
For information on all events, visit the Blue Mountain Observatory webpage or email BMO@mso.umt.edu. For additional questions leave a voice message at 406-243-4299.