Summertime Astronomy
Summer and astronomy make a winning combination as shown by the Astronomical Society of the Toms River Area. (Credit: Paul Gitto)

For many, summertime means clear skies and warm, inviting nights. Many astronomers refer to this time of year as the "observing season", one of the best times to get outside and look up. This could be your summer to discover the magic of astronomy for yourself!

At their "Summer Kick-off Star Party" the ATOM Astronomy Club had lots of fun activities to fend off summer doldrums and awaken the mind as described by club presenter Naomi E. Pequette: "We started by doing paper rockets and launching them. We also handed out the telescope treasure hunt worksheet and a star chart, as well as a "light pollution catcher" provided by the Colorado Chapter of the International Dark-Sky Association. We had 4 telescopes on the lawn of Chamberlin Observatory...and 2 observatory telescopes in New Mexico controlled by the internet! The rocket competition was a blast! We set up a scale solar system and saw who could get to the furthest planet"

Astronomy Clubs can offer a myriad of opportunities for you to enjoy summer astronomy activities including; solar observing, telescope making classes and star parties held at state parks, observatories, planetariums, and museums. Chuck McPartlin of the Astronomical Unit explains how their astronomy outreach program goes even further: "In addition to bringing telescopes for solar and nighttime viewing, we have a laptop and portable digital projector and screen to give PowerPoint style presentations. The projector can be used to show live telescope images with video eyepieces, helping to make observing more accessible to handicapped folks and large groups."

Beat the Heat
In some areas, daytime activities come to a halt in the summer heat but that doesn't mean you have to spend your summer indoors. When the sun goes down and the temperatures drop to a comfortable level, an evening spent with a telescope and new friends can be just the thing. To find a star party in your area, click here to find a Night Sky Network member astronomy club in your area!