The Woodward News

Local News

July 4, 2013

Astronomical Society sets weekend viewings

Woodward, Okla. — It started four years ago.

A small but lively group of dark sky enthusiasts got together and formed an official group and called themselves the Starcreek Astronomical Society.

 “We are just a group of people who get together and do, well, star stuff,” said Starcreek President Mark Hallinger

Now the organization has, for the third year in a row, opened its arms and the members have opened their schedules to those who have always held a fascination with what goes on up there, but don’t know what to look for.

For the entire month of July, every Friday and Saturday night, the group will have someone on hand at the Selman Living Laboratory site, which is seven miles west of Alabaster Caverns, Hallinger said.

Volunteers from the group will be there to help viewers who want to look through a powerful telescope at the moon or “special deep sky objects like binary stars, nebulae, clusters of stars, stars with remarkable colors, and galaxies like the Andromeda Galaxy and others much further away,” said Starcreek founder Bobette Doerrie.

A special deep sky object such as nebulae, is a gaseous formation where a star, perhaps, is being formed, Hallinger said.

“Stars are always being formed, the universe is not static, it is always changing and growing,” he said. “Even though what we see through our lifetimes seems to stay the same…that is just because stars have such a long lifetime.

For instance, Hallinger said the sun will eventually burn itself out, but it will be millions of years before that happens.

Hallinger said he can also teach people how to view naked eye objects such as the International Space Station, which can be seen at certain times for a long as two to three minutes.

“But mostly we have the telescopes focused on a planet because they are easily recognized,” Hallinger said. “For instance, Saturn is up right now and the rings of Saturn are easily seen on our scopes.”  

The viewing is free to anyone with an interest.

Sturdy shoes, insect repellent and a jacket should all be a part of your viewing gear.

People usually stay until midnight but some only stay an hour, Doerrie said.

For more information email Hallinger at “Infor@starcreek.org. or check out the website at www.starcreek.org

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