NOVAC’s Annual Star Gaze Event
October 7, 2023, 5pm to 11pm (rain date is October 14, 2023)
C.M. Crockett Park
Hosted by the Northern Virginia Astronomy Club. Come out at 5 pm to enjoy safe views of the Sun using specialized telescopes and solar filters. Stay after nightfall and participate in observations of Saturn, Jupiter, Uranus, and Neptune plus star clusters, nebulae, galaxies, and other deep sky objects. There will be a large variety of telescopes and other optics of varying sizes and configurations offering great views of celestial objects. Our members will be glad to share those views with you and answer any questions you may have! Note: Crockett Park charges $7 per vehicle if you’re not a Fauquier County resident, but the event itself is free.
Experienced NOVAC members will be on hand to provide you with a guided tour of the night sky! Younger children will appreciate our field activities and events that are more interactive and hands-on (children under 18 need to be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian). So mark your calendars, grab your family and join NOVAC on October 7th for a special day of learning and observing all the wonders of our universe.
No astronomy experience or equipment is needed to enjoy Star Gaze. Free star maps and brochures about amateur astronomy will be available to help you get started. Experienced amateur astronomers will show you how to use them to learn and enjoy the night sky – just ask!
If you own a pair of binoculars, bring them. Binoculars are great for looking at the night sky. The free star maps point out features in the night sky that are best viewed with binoculars.
What you should know before you visit
- Bring layers of clothing to add as the evening cools. Temperatures can be chilly and little body heat is generated while standing still to peer through a telescope eyepiece. Check the forecast for Midland, VA before you start out to get an idea of what the weather will be like.
- Bring water and other beverages to keep hydrated. No food concessions will be available at the park so you may want to bring snacks and a picnic dinner. There are no restaurants nearby; the closest are in Bealton, Warrenton or Bristow, 7, 8 and 12 miles away, respectively. Crockett park is truly rural. Bring a lawn chair if you would like for more comfortable observing from the field.
- Bring a flashlight, but cover it in layers of red cellophane, the darker the better. Astronomers use red lights because of a phenomenon called dark adaptation. Our eyes slowly increase in sensitivity to light in dark environments but very quickly lose it when exposed to white light. Red lights, specifically those with a wavelength longer than 620 nanometers, dark ruby red, don’t cause this, so we use them to illuminate our path or charts.
- Children are welcome, of course, but please help us to encourage them to be careful around the astronomical equipment. Scouts are encouraged and this is a great way for Girl Scouts to work on their Space Explorer Try It or work on the Sky Search Program. Scouts can work on their Astronomy Merit Badge
- No smoking around the telescopes. Telescope mirrors (and some of the owners) are sensitive to tobacco smoke. Move far away from the telescopes if you use any kind of spray. A tiny droplet of insect repellent spray could significantly damage the coating on a telescope lens or mirror.
- Pets, except service dogs, are not permitted on the observing field.