It’s time once again for the Astronomical Society of Southeast Texas to bring their large telescopes out to Martin Dies Jr. State Park. We will be gathering at the Day Use Area shortly after 7pm. Bring some bug spray, a camping chair if you like and red light flashlights. If you can’t find a red light flashlight, a few layers of dark red sandwich wrap fixed to the light end of the flashlight will work great. Below is a map of where we set up.
What can we expect to see?
The Moon & Venus! Early in the evening we can catch a glimpse of the waxing crescent moon. It will be a very thin sliver and will offer some amazing views if the sky is clear. The Moon has incredible craters and some awesome detail will be seen. Venus should also be visible low in the western sky along with Jupiter. Venus will be about 1.1 degrees southwest of the the Moon. This fairly common event is known as a conjunction.
Saturn and Mars! Both of these planets are stunning in a telescope. If you haven’t seen Saturn’s rings and moons then you need to come out for this alone. Mars is moving further from the Earth so it is mildly entertaining. On a super clear night you can spot details on Mars and may even see the northern polar cap. It appears as a white spot near the edge of the planet. Results may vary.
Deep Sky Objects! The beauty of Martin Dies State Park is the truly dark skies. The darker the skies the better the views of the really faint deep sky objects. Galaxies, nebulae and star clusters are visible from suburban areas but out in the dark skies of the park, these objects are seen in more detail and clarity. A galaxy that is as far away as 50 million light years may appear dim to us due to its distance and light pollution can lessen what you see. If the skies allow us we will study several galaxies in detail and perhaps even see a group of galaxies that are interacting or merging! There are some very interesting things to see! Come out and explore the sky with us!