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West Texas Astronomers

Public Star Parties

A Public Star Party will usually be held on the Friday nearest the 1st quarter moon, weather permitting. Although the light of the moon may mask some deep sky objects, the 1st quarter moon provides a good target for novices and children. This free event is held in Haley Park on selected Saturday evenings after the sun goes down and the sky gets dark.   

Check the Star Party Indicator near the top of our home page for the date/time of the next scheduled Public Star Party and check it for status near the scheduled time to make sure we will be showing up.

The Public Star Party is an opportunity for members of the community to interact with local amateur astronomers. Visitors are encouraged to look through any and all telescopes and binoculars that are set up. Usually the telescopes will initially be pointed at the most common objects (Moon, planets, etc.). After everyone has had a chance to look through each telescope, members will usually scan the skies for other, less prominent objects. Here are some objects you can expect to see even from downtown Midland's light polluted skies:

M42 Orion Nebula  - an area where new stars are being born
M65/66 Galaxies in Leo  - about 35 million light-years away!
M64 Blackeye Galaxy - over 20 million light-years away - discovered in 1779
M4 Globular cluster  - beautiful cluster of stars in Scorpius about 7,000 light-years away
M8 Lagoon Nebula  -
M13 Globular Cluster in Hercules - another bright cluster - visible even in binoculars
M17 Omega (Swan) Nebula
M22 Globular cluster in Sag
M81/M82 A pair of galaxies in Ursa Major
M92 Globular Cluster in Hercules
M5 Globular cluster
M27 Dumbbell Nebula
M57 Ring Nebula
Albireo - A pretty double star; one red, one blue
M31 Andromeda Galaxy  - only 2.5 million light-years away - visible in binoculars
M44 Beehive Cluster
M45 Pleaides Cluster
Double Cluster in Perseus
One of the goals of the West Texas Astronomers is public outreach and education. The Public Star Party is one of the best events to help achieve that goal. Not only can visitors see for themselves what a nebula or galaxy looks like, they can evaluate the different equipment in use. Hopefully we'll see you at the next star party!

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