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Big Bend Star Parties

Don Machholz


(Here’s a note from Don Machholz about a series of dark sky star parties that he is putting together.) Big Bend is a ranger station 30 miles above Colfax, along Hwy 80. These 90-minute sky tours take you through about 30 sky wonders using telescopes owned and operated by other astronomers and myself. This is our 11th year of conducting the Big Bend sky tours.

These star parties are different from most in two ways. First, there is no moon in the sky. We take advantage of the dark skies of Big Bend and show objects that you need to get away from the city lights to see well. You will see things that we can’t show in the city. Secondly, these are 90-minute tours that display about three dozen objects, from bright stars, to planets, to double stars, clusters, nebula and galaxies.

We move rather briskly through the universe. Therefore, I ask that you arrive on time for the 10-minute orientation talk and plan to stay for the full 90 minutes. You won’t be disappointed!

In case of poor weather the session is canceled. Bring plenty of warm clothes; even in the summer it gets cold at 5800 feet elevation. This is a family friendly event. Restrooms are nearby.

To get there take Interstate 80 towards Reno and go beyond Colfax, Blue Canyon and Emigrant Gap. The Big Bend exit is the first one past Cisco Grove. At the bottom of the off-ramp turn left, and travel one-half mile and past the USFS Visitor Center. Look for the Loch Leven trailhead parking lot and the stargazing signs. We set up in that parking lot. Residents in the Grass Valley area can take Highway 20 to Interstate 80 eastbound, and then exit at Cisco Grove.

(See the remaining 2007 schedule below or check out:


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