Stargaze in Vail Village this Saturday night with Vail Astronomy Nights
Free event welcomes you to view stars, planets and more in Vail Village
We’ve all looked up at the stars, but do you really know what to look for or what you are looking at? Vail Astronomy Nights returns this Saturday and welcomes back astronomer, photographer and author Bryan White to help guide your visual journey of the night sky.
Bring the whole family out to the International Bridge in Vail from 8 to 10 p.m. on Saturday night where White has his museum-grade, state-of-the-art telescopes ready to observe the universe. All you need to do is bring your curiosity.
White developed an interest in the stars, planets and everything else millions of miles away from planet Earth at a young age. White grew up in a suburb of Detroit before his family moved out to a farm near Ortonville, Michigan. In 1957, 6-year-old White noticed something in the western sky. They did not know it at the time, but it was the not-yet-named Mrkos Comet. This sighting, along with a camping trip to Colorado, which allowed White to really see the night sky, are two instances that prompted White’s life-long fascination with astronomy.
Locally, Vail Astronomy Nights is put together by Blue Creek Productions and the town of Vail. Brain Hall, of Blue Creek Productions, dubs it “a free event with a professional astronomer, a really big telescope and the Colorado sky.”
“Vail is the perfect setting for discovering the Colorado sky. With less light pollution, you really get to see so much more, just with your naked eye, so imagine looking through the telescope,” Hall said.
White brings huge telescopes and his base of knowledge to each event he is a part of. White graduated from the University of Michigan with a business degree, but he always followed the stars and those stars aligned when he took a job in Denver at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science as the manager of telescopes. He currently lives in Glenwood Springs and hosts “star parties” for public and private groups of all ages throughout the Roaring Fork Valley and Eagle River Valley.
Hall says the response to Vail Astronomy Nights has been incredible.
“People get so excited when they get to see things close up. Everyone has the joy of returning to their 8 year old self,” Hall said. “We had a little girl drag her dad back with her a couple of times one night. She didn’t want to leave. She told me, ‘I’m going to be an astronaut,’ and I believe she will make that happen.”
This Saturday, White will have the following telescopes focused on these subjects:
Telescope: 22-inch Obsession
- You could jump about three times higher on Mars than you can on Earth
- Mars is home to the highest mountain in our solar system, a volcano called Olympus Mons standing 14 miles high
- Mars is currently over 65 million miles from earth
- A day on Mars is 24 hours and 37 minutes but a year on Mars is 687 Earth days
Subject: Trapezium Star Cluster in the Orion Nebula
Telescope: 10-inch Orion
- Trapezium was discovered by Galileo Galilei
- The five brightest stars are on the order of 15-30 solar masses in size
- They are within a diameter of 1.5 light-years of each other and are responsible for much of the illumination of the surrounding nebula
- The Trapezium is a sub-component of the larger Orion Nebula Cluster, a grouping of about 2,000 stars within a diameter of 20 light-years
- The Trapezium is 1,344 light years away
Telescope: 8-inch Celestron
- Castor is a sextuple star system organized into three binary pairs, made up of the stars Castor Aa, Castor Ab, Castor Ba, Castor Bb, Castor Ca, and Castor Cb
- Castor was first recorded as a double star in 1718 by James Pound
- Castor is 51 light-years away from Earth
At press time, the forecast looked good for stargazing on Saturday night. Follow Vail Astronomy Nights of its Facebook page to stay up to date regarding what happens if inclement weather occurs. Dress warm enough to be outside for a while to soak in the views. This is the last Vail Astronomy Nights of the season, but look for its return this summer.