Our Heritage of Dark Skies: New Community Telescopes Promote Night Sky Viewing

Two new telescopes were purchased as part of the Sparking Humanities Conversations project in Wayne County. The National Endowment for the Humanities grant project is co-sponsored by the Entrada Institute along with USU Extension/4H and other local partners.

Entrada Institute board member Tyler Ward coordinates the annual Heritage Starfest activities. He has been working with Jana Alexander at the Tri-County Headquarters Library in Bicknell to make these two telescopes available for check-out. Although still in the planning stages, it’s hoped that the telescopes will be available to individuals, families and community groups with a library card.

The telescopes were introduced during the free community dinner exploring on our Heritage of Storytelling, Campfires, and the Night Sky. In addition to sharing the telescopes, participants enjoyed storytelling activities. They also made rattles, dreamcatchers, and star wheels along with exploring the constellations in the Skydome portable planetarium.

Each participant received a red balloon covered flashlight. When stargazing, a red light doesn’t interfere with your ability to see in the dark like a traditional flashlight. Red cellophane also works well to help protect night vision.

Thanks to the 4-H Teen Leaders for coordinating activities and specifically to Samantha Wray for sharing Native American stories connected with the night sky theme.

Mickey Wright of Torrey shared his telescope and binoculars with the group. Wright noted that normally participants could view sunspots through the telescope, however we are currently experiencing fewer sunspots than normal.

To learn more about the night sky, participate in the biannual citizen science project that monitors sky quality. On Saturday May 4, everyone’s invited to help measure the brightness of the night sky at five locations in the Teasdale-Torrey-Grover area. People of all ages are invited to participate. For more information about this event, contact Gary Pankow at pankow.gary@gmail.com

The final two community dinners will be held in May. On May 1, the focus will be on honey, bees, and beekeeping. On May 15, participants will explore the history of quilting in Wayne County. – Annette Lamb

Photo Caption: Tyler Ward and Mickey Wright of Torrey talk with dinner participants about the new community telescopes. Photo courtesy of Annette Lamb.

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