Back by popular demand, Ask Dr. Sam, will start up again next Tuesday from 4:30pm-5:30pm MDT every week. It’s a great opportunity for students and their parents to have the opportunity to ask all their burning questions to our Founder and Executive Director Dr. Sam. Get charged up for some great some good dinner time conversation every Tuesday with Ask Dr. Sam!
We also have a new offering that we’re calling Astro-BS. Every other Thursday at noon you can join the Wyoming Stargazing Team over lunch via zoom or on our YouTube Channel to chat about the latest astronomical discoveries and technological innovations during our lunch hour. We hope to see you there!
Comet NEOWISE has turned out to be the most charismatic comet in the last decade. Over the next few nights it’s going to get higher and higher in the sky. If you haven’t checked it out yet, you really should. It’s easily visible to the naked eye from Jackson and from most of the Northern Hemisphere by about 10pm MDT on the western horizon. Check out this link to see charts of how to find the comet in the sky tonight.
To find it, start by finding the Big Dipper. Locate the two stars on the far side of the “bucket” away from the “handle”, which are called the pointer stars. Then, draw a line from the right hand pointer star down to the horizon. Look back up from the horizon about the distance of one or two pointer fingers held as arm’s length.
You should see a faint fuzzy spot with the unaided eye. Using a pair of binoculars the long extended tail of the comet is really lovely to see. The comet is named after the NASA satellite that discovered it. CometNEOWISE is one of the brightest comets visible from Jackson in the last decade. Enjoy!
Here are a couple pictures that we took the other night.
To support our community through the COVID-19 pandemic Wyoming Stargazing has launched three brand new virtual programs and converted a couple of our old programs to virtual platforms as well. Check them out below.
The coronavirus crisis has shown us that we are all interconnected. It’s connected us in new ways that most of us never imagined. The employees at Wyoming Stargazing have been helping people connect to the Cosmos through inspirational and educational programming for the past six years.
If you haven’t already checked out Ask Dr. Sam, Sci-fi Explained, Mind Bending Astronomy, or Virtual Stargazing we encourage you to do so. We’re connecting to more people than ever before, but most of our face-to-face stargazing programs, our main source of revenue, have already been cancelled.
Even with the Payment Protection Program Loan that we will receive shortly, our cash reserves will run out in July. We have applied for a $55,000 Economic Injury Disaster Loan from the Small Business Administration, but we want to reduce the total mount that we need to borrow by as little as possible.
We kindly ask that you support our organization so we cancontinue to support people all over the country with engaging, virtual, astronomy programming. Your gift will provide immediate financial support so we can keep creating inspirational programming for as long as the coronavirus crisis lasts and reduce our debt obligations thereafter. Please connect with us so we can connect you, your friends, and family to the Cosmos!
From now until May 10th you can donate online through GoFundMe Charity and they will match the first $1,000 we receive through their Giving Tuesday Now Match Program. Click this linkor on the icon below to donate now!
The first installment of our World Above the Tetons Science Speaker Series was a huge success with over 250 attending! A huge thanks to our sponsors, to everyone who showed up, and to Astronaut Scott for a wonderful presentation. We’ve just as excited about the next event featuring Jill Tarter, co-founder of Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI), on Saturday September 29th at 7pm at Walk Festival Hall. Tickets are on sale here (KIDS and students are FREE!)
Wyoming Stargazing was featured in a NY Times article today about stargazing in the western hemisphere. Astrotourism is a rapidly growing industry and Wyoming Stargazing is honored to be a big part of sharing the Cosmos with the public. Read more…
December 21st, the Winter Solstice, is an astronomical phenomenon marking the shortest day and the longest night of the year when, often considered the “extreme of winter.” Worldwide, interpretation of the event varies across cultures. Many come together to recognize rebirth involving holidays, festivals, gatherings, rituals, and more.
In Jackson Hole, annual festivities are held at Rendezvous Park. Bring your family and friends anytime between from 5–8 pm. It will be a magical night not to miss! Please RSVP to Park Director Elisabeth Rohrbach at firstname.lastname@example.org or (307) 733-3913.
This year, Cathedral Voices Choir will sing carols around a bonfire and Wyoming Stargazing will show you the planets up close with their telescopes. Jackson Hole Public Art will create art installations with fire that provide light and warmth. There will also be warm drinks, chili, and of course sledding!
As a 501(c)3 nonprofit, RLC’s work is made possible thanks to support and donations. It would be a pleasure to share more information about our work. Please contact us with any questions.
Donations can be made by check and sent via USPS to PO Box 6430 | Jackson, WY 83002 or by credit card online. For up-to-date information visit our blog and sign-up for our monthly eNewsletter.
Both town and county voted in our revised LDRs! We’re now one step closer to becoming a Dark Sky Certified community! Look for a future blog post to see what that means and what the next steps are.
But in the meantime, it’s time for a celebration!
Party with the Perseids!
When: Thursday, August 11th, 8pm – late
Where: Rendezvous Park (R-Park)
Rendezvous Land Conservancy and Wyoming Stargazing are teaming up this August to offer you an extraordinary free public event filled with great food, drinks, live music, games, and of course stargazing. Come on out to R-Park for some fun, family-friendly time and stick around for one of the best meteor showers of the year…the Perseids!
Pica’s will be providing chips, salsa, guacamole, quesadillas, and half-priced margaritas!
We’ll have Rob and Tasha to serenade you as the sun goes down and plenty of yard games to pass the time. As the stars come out we’ll have several telescopes set up around R-Park to show you the cloud bands of Jupiter, the rings of Saturn, and possibly even the polar ice caps of Mars. We’ll also show you incredible details on the waxing gibbous moon. Later on we’ll show you star clusters, nebulae, and of course a few galaxies. We should begin seeing the first meteors of the evening as the sky darkens at about 9pm. We’ll see more meteors as the evening progresses. And if you stick around until after the Moon sets at about 12:30am, then the real Perseid Meteor shower begins and it’s one of the best meteor showers of the year.
About This Year’s Perseid Meteor Shower
This year, even with the Moon, we should be able to see about 1 meteor/min. Most of them will appear to radiate from the NE part of the sky near the constellation Perseus, but others will appear in other parts of the sky. This meteor shower, like all meteor shows, is produced by the Earth moving through a debris field in space left there by a comet. In this case, it’s comet Swift-Tuttle that was discovered in 1862.
Please bring a lawn chair and/or blanket to help you enjoy the evening, the food, the drinks, the games, and the meteors!
No need to RSVP – Just show up and join in on the fun!
We’ve just launched a brand new fundraiser to help us begin making a big impact on the light pollution in Jackson! If successful, we’ll be able to begin a series of case studies with local businesses in collaboration with Energy Conservation Works, another local nonprofit, to quantitatively measure the light emitted from various locations around the valley. We’ll also have the resources to begin a full scale educational campaign to bring more awareness to the general public about light pollution.
How It Works
There are a couple different ways you can help us reach our fundraising goals.
You can help us raise funds yourself by setting up a fundraising page on Crowdrise by clicking on this link, selecting the ‘JOIN THE TEAM’ or the ‘FUNDRAISE FOR THIS CAMPAIGN’ links near the bottom of the page that opens up, and sharing your fundraising page across all your social media outlets. If you do that you’ll be entered to win one of three fantastic prizes (including a free private stargazing program for you and 4 guests, an 8″ Dobsonian telescope, and Wyoming Stargazing swag). These are all being offered for the fundraisers who raise the most money for Wyoming Stargazing.
Get your fundraising pages set up soon because Giving Tuesday, December 1st, is just around the corner!
What You Get Out of It
In addition to the amazing prizes above, by helping us out you’ll get the satisfaction of joining over 500 people who, over the last two years, have helped us offer 116 Free Public Astronomy Programs including stargazing, solar astronomy, and planetarium programs to over 4,300 people. Plus, your donation will be completely tax deductible.
What We Get Out of It
If all goes well, we’ll have 20 new Sky Quality Meters ($200/each) and 20 GPS units ($85/each) to measure sky brightness at accurate and precise locations. We’ll also have the funds to start printing brochures, fliers, and other educational materials to bring more widespread attention to the problems associated with light pollution and the benefits of alleviating it.
Visit our Save Our Night Skies page to find out more about why reducing light pollution is so important. If you already know all about this stuff and want to help us out please click one of the links below. Thanks!
We’ve been making some significant strides in getting Dark Sky Certification for the Town of Jackson and Teton County!
After attending multiple Joint Information Meetings (JIMs) earlier this year and creating a thorough and lengthy draft to implement into the Land Development Regulations (LDRs), we were assigned to work with Principle Planners by the Town of Jackson and Teton County. With their helpful support and feedback, we were able to weed out unnecessary and redundant verbiage to maximize the revision’s effectiveness. This helped to trim down our draft by several pages. One county commissioner even commented that we had everything covered except opening a car door at night.
Next, with the help of some friends and supporters in northern Utah, we were able to meet up with Dr. John Barentine while he was making a visit to that area. Dr. Barentine currently works as the Program Manager for the International Dark Sky Association. He gave us an extensive review of our newly revised LDRs and gave some excellent feedback for more revisions. At the end of the meeting, we had two thumbs up from him, and essentially, the International Dark Sky Association! We’re currently working on the final draft now and will be submitting a formal amendment to the town and county once those are complete. Since public support will be a big help in getting that voted in, be sure to keep up with us on social media and here on the blog and we’ll let you know when that happens.
As if that wasn’t enough, we also recently met with Dr. Bryan Boulanger, a civil engineer working with Yellowstone National Park to minimize their light pollution. He offered some great insight and support to also get Grand Teton National Park certified as well!
Our executive director, Samuel Singer, has been doing some digging and found out that the lights were purchased before the current exterior lighting standard was adopted. Rest assured though, we’re doing our best to get them changed, and that’s exactly what may very well happen. There seems to be a lot of openness to changing the lights from the Acorn style to the Shepard’s Hook model, which several of the lights already are. That would drastically cut down on the amount of light pollution, especially glare, increasing the overall safety of the area for pedestrians, motorists, and wildlife.
The City/County is currently having researchers collect data on the north side of Broadway across from the Shell and Exxon gas stations to see if the grading that was done on that side is enough to reduce wildlife casualties from automobiles, or whether additional lighting might be necessary on that side of the road as well.
Hopefully with some education and increased awareness we can make sure that all new outdoor lighting in Jackson meets the highest dark sky standards, which will save the City money, reduce energy consumption, make our community safer and healthier, and preserve the amazing natural resource of dark skies. Wyoming Stargazing isn’t against new outdoor lighting in Jackson. However, we do want to make sure that we get the best lighting for our entire community.
We are making some excellent strides in restoring the night skies over town! Thanks to everyone for your support and help thus far, and be sure to follow us on social media to get the latest on our developments.
If you’ve ever visited us at one of our free programs, talked with us a bit on a stargazing tour, or even just clicked around this site a little, you know one of our major goals is to bring an observatory and planetarium to Jackson Hole. So how’s that going?
At the moment, there’s really only good news and better news! Our Executive Director, Samuel Singer, met with Max Chapman, the owner of both Snow King and Brooks Lake Lodge (the latter near Togwotee Pass), earlier this year to discuss just that. Chapman loved the idea so much, he worked in an observatory into his Phase II development plan for Snow King just before submitting it to the town and county! The plan was then approved to proceed, and right now, the proposed site is undergoing an impact study on the natural area. The entire study process should potentially last up to the summer of 2018. Assuming it passes, the observatory will shift into the planning phase, possibly taking up to another year. Once that’s complete, the construction will begin on Jackson Hole’s first observatory!
As of the initial planning stages, the proposed size of the mirror for the telescope that will be housed in the observatory will be a full meter wide, nearly double our massive 20" scope! This will allow for substantially better viewing of deep space objects. It will also have some enormous benefits to the community, such as having a completely new option for family activities after dark, while also encouraging scientific literacy and development through hands-on experience with astronomy. Kids growing up here in Jackson Hole are already blessed enough to live in such a rich natural environment, and now they’ll learn just how important the objects in the night sky are as well.
Of course we’ve been asked multiple times when talking about this, "Aren’t Jackson’s skies a little bright for an observatory on top of Snow King?" It is true that they are much brighter than they need to be, and that’s something we’re actually working with Town and County about right now, the developments in that area being enough for a completely separate blog post. Just know that we are making every effort to minimize the lighting in the area and everyone thus far has been very receptive. If you’d like to proactively and voluntarily make your house or business compliant with the new standards we’re hoping to establish, check out our Save Our Night Skies Campaign page for more information. By taking action, you’ll not only be making your property safer while at the same time saving money on energy, you’ll also be helping to restore a more natural night sky above Jackson, encouraging more people to look up after dark. In addition, it will also have a much less disruptive effect on the wildlife of our community.
Our hope is that by the time the observatory opens, we can decrease the amount of light that we’re emitting, which has unnecessarily skyrocketed in recent years. Alternatively though, before the observatory on top of Snow King is scheduled to open, there may be another in the area by then. Since Chapman also owns Brooks Lake Lodge, he’ll be installing one up there as well. This one will be a .7 meter scope (roughly 27 inches) and will be very far away from any light pollution. If you haven’t experienced the night skies up there, you’ll definitely need to make the trip up! The difference is astounding!
In the meantime, keep an eye on this site for any exciting updates and developments. These are exciting times indeed!