The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Star party set at Oasis


August 4, 2018

Courtesy photo: Gary Zapotoczny

The Clovis Astronomy Club, during its June 24 viewing event at Clovis-Carver Public Library. The club will hold a star party tonight at Oasis State Park.

CLOVIS - With the moon nowhere in sight, several amateur astronomers will be setting up telescopes at Oasis State Park tonight to take in the night sky.

The event is one of several star parties the Clovis Astronomy Club hosts from May to October in order to share their appreciation of

Tonight's event begins at Oasis State Park at sunset and will feature an especially clear view of the night sky without the light of the moon to contend with.

"The nice thing about not having the moon out there, you can actually make out the galaxies and the dimmer objects in the sky," Clovis Astronomy Club Vice President Gary Zapotoczny said.

Club President Roy Uyematsu said those in attendance will be using their telescopes and binoculars to look at "whatever's up there."

Tonight that will include clusters of dust and gas, called nebulae, and groups of thousands of stars, called clusters. Several nebulae, such as the Swan Nebula, are named for the objects they resemble.

"When you're looking at it you're going to have to turn your head a little bit but you'll actually make out a swan in the water, it actually looks like that," Zapotoczny said.

Other objects that should be visible tonight include the planets Mars, Jupiter and Saturn.

"Folks regardless of how old they are, when they see Saturn for the first time in a telescope - because it's so different because you can see the rings - you see the surprise and awe in their face," Zapotoczny said. "Regardless of how old they are, they're a kid in that moment, it's really cool to see."

Zapotoczny encouraged any first time star partygoers to bring mosquito repellent and a chair. People are also encouraged to bring their telescopes or binoculars if they have them, though club members will also bring their own equipment which attendees can utilize.

While the club members will not have the moon to contend with, there is always the issue of weather.

"Of course the one big caveat is the weather," Zapotoczny said. "The club has decided that no matter what, unless it's just really bad out, we're going to make every star party."

Zapotoczny said in the case of really extreme weather the club will update its Facebook page with the status of the star party, but expect to see them out at Oasis State Park tonight pretty much no matter what.

Zapotoczny said the Clovis Astronomy Club does not charge for its events though Oasis have a drop box at its entrance to collect a $5 fee for each vehicle to pay for park upkeep.

Club members will be setting up by the building to the right of the park entrance. Zapotoczny requested that attendees be mindful of their headlights as the enter and exit the area, as the bright lights can "destroy your night vision for a few minutes."

Zapotoczny said the purpose of these monthly star parties is partly to share the scientific knowledge of the club's members with the public.

Uyematsu said he hopes those in attendance take away just an "appreciation of what's up there, what you're looking at."


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