This guest blog post is from the Camp Casey website. Reprinted with permission.
Are you planning to add educational activities to your retreat agenda or looking to add astronomy to your outdoor education program? If so, consider stargazing at Camp Casey. By doing a little research, you’ll easily be able to find notable events occurring in the sky during the times that you’re planning your visit. As an example, February will be one of the best times this year to view Venus. It will achieve its greatest brilliancy on February 18. Another notable stargazing event occurring in February is the close approach of Mars and Uranus on February 26. The pair will become visible around 6:33 p.m., as the dusk sky fades, 30 degrees above the southwestern horizon. They will then sink towards the horizon, setting around 9:43 p.m.
The best stargazing locations are away from the city lights, where the dark sky offers millions of stars to view. Even though the weather is more predictable on the east side of the Cascade Mountains, the west side offers premier locations too. Camp Casey is one such premier location. Just ask Douglas Downing, Seattle Pacific University associate professor of economics and adjunct professor of astronomy.
Downing maintains a 25” f/5 Obsession telescope at Camp Casey year-round, so it’s always ready for him and other SPU faculty to roll out and use when they are visiting. The telescope’s Newtonian reflector with a Dobsonian mount combines great optics for viewing and portability. When Downing is at Camp Casey, he is all too eager to share viewing the moon, planets and stars through the telescope with anyone interested, as well as stage some impromptu star-gazing and provide insights and commentary about the night sky with anyone willing to look and learn. The Camp Casey staff make a point to let guests know if he is planning to pull out the telescope while they are here.
Camp Casey’s location away from the metropolitan light pollution makes it an ideal location for viewing the night sky, even without the aid of a high-power telescope. For optimum stargazing, choose nights around or at the start of a new moon. Best times for viewing the night sky is typically 3 – 4 hours after sunset. If you are interested in adding a stargazing program to your group’s visit to Camp Casey, let us know.
Learn more about Camp Casey here…