WHITEHALL — Montana State Parks will host the 14th annual night of guided stargazing at Lewis & Clark Caverns State Park at 8:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 30.
Join Tom Satterly, Sheila Roberts and Craig Zaspel as they lead you on a tour of the night sky over the Caverns. The trio have shared the secrets of the night sky with hundreds of visitors to Lewis & Clark Caverns over the last decade; they never fail to bring their enthusiasm and telescopes.
Satterly is a retired member of the environmental sciences department at the University of Montana-Western and is presently a storyteller. Roberts is a professor emerita of geology with the environmental sciences department at UM-W and will help folks with using a planisphere to locate constellations and individual stars and planets. Zaspel is a professor of physics with the environmental sciences department at UM-W. He will share his understanding of the night sky from a physicist’s perspective.
Make this program an overnight experience. Camping in the group use area is available for $4 per person. Breakfast the next morning will be provided for those who register by 4 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 24, by calling the park at 406-287-3541. Registration is not required for the program Friday night. The event is otherwise free to Montana residents; non-residents will need to pay a $6 vehicle entry fee.
For more details or to make reservations, call the park visitor center at 406-287-3541.
At 8 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 31, join AmeriCorps member Tamara Beal for a journey back in time, “Stars: a Window into the Past.” Learn about the speed at which light travels and how that has affected our knowledge of the creation and expansion of the universe. This interpretive talk will take place at the outdoor campground amphitheater.
Finally, on Sunday, Sept. 1, join Joe Witherspoon from Cottontail Planetarium for an evening filled with activities for all ages.
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Witherspoon bought his first telescope in 1992 and has been doing astronomy presentations and demonstrations ever since. After a long career of installing and repairing communications and navigations equipment on offshore oil platforms, ships and boats, he retired and moved to Montana where he built the Cottontail Observatory.
His programs include:
--5:30 p.m.: Stomp Rockets: Make a rocket and later launch them into the air up to 100 yards.
--7:30 p.m.: Where the Planets Are: Create a to-scale model of the distances between planets and the sun.
--8:30 p.m.: Tour of the Night Sky: use telescopes to learn about the locations and specifics of other stars, planets and the moon in the night sky. Open telescope use to follow the conclusion of the program.
Registration is not required for the any of the programs on Saturday and Sunday. These events are free to Montana residents; non-residents will need to pay a $6 vehicle entry fee.
Lewis & Clark Caverns State Park features one of the most decorative limestone caverns in the Northwest filled with spectacular stalactites, stalagmites, columns, and helictites. The park also features camping, trails to hike or bike, a state-of-the-art visitor center, interpretive displays, a gift shop, food and beverage concessions, amphitheater, and interpretive events presented during the summer months.