Stargazers to unite at Hopewell Furnace for Starfest Aug. 16

The Chesmont Astronomical Society invites the public to enjoy a night of learning and stargazing at the third annual Starfest at Hopewell Furnace on Aug. 16. The event is free and all are welcome to bring telescopes and binoculars or use ones that will be available.

Dr. Eric Jensen, chair of the physics and astronomy department at Swarthmore College, will serve as keynote speaker for the event. Jensens speech, Discovering exoplanets using small telescopes, will teach amateur astronomers how they can use ordinary telescopes to see planets outside of our solar system.

Jensens main area of study is in astrobiology, which is the study of the origin, evolution, and distribution of life in the universe. He also studies young, nearby stars, and will talk about how amateur astronomers can observe these stars.

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The event will also include guest speaker Chad Moore, who serves as Night Skies Team Leader for the US National Park Service based in Fort Collins, Colo. Moore has been actively working to protect national parks from light pollution with the NPS Night Skies Program since 1999.

Moores work with the Night Skies Program looks at how light pollution affects nocturnal habitats. Starfest will occur just before a new moon so attendees can observe the sky with less light pollution. The Chesmont Astronomical Society asks that stargazers bring red flashlights to reduce the amount of light at the event. There will be red LED flashlights attendees can borrow for a small deposit.

Besides learning about the universe from experts, attendees are welcome to bring the whole family for a night of fun under the night sky. Children can engage in educational activities from 6 to 7 p.m., and families are invited to pack a picnic and enjoy dinner in the great outdoors.

The event, which is funded by donations from attendees and the members of the Chesmont Astronomical Society, will include door prizes for attendees. Stargazers will have the opportunity to win binoculars and telescopes, as well as other prizes. The prizes will be awarded throughout the evening, and one grand prize winner will be announced at 9:15 p.m.

After all prizes have been awarded, attendees will turn their attention to the night sky. Astronomy lovers are invited to bring blankets, lawn chairs, telescopes, and binoculars.

For aspiring astronomers, the Chesmont Astronomical Society will provide additional telescopes anyone can use for free. Members of the Society and the expert guest speakers will be on hand to answer questions and pinpoint interesting and extraordinary celestial bodies for attendees.

The Chesmont Astronomical Society is non-profit group that meets to observe the night sky and discuss what they have seen. They meet monthly in the Pottstown, Lionville, and Earlville areas.

The group also hosts many Saturday night star parties where they get together and have fun with astronomy. Star parties are usually held at French Creek and Marsh Creek State Parks.

The 2014 Starfest will take place at 2 Mark Bird Lane in Elverson. For directions, visit http://www.nps.gov/hofu/planyourvisit/directions.htm. For more information call Hopewell Furnace at 610-582-8773, ext. 0, or visit www.chesmontastro.org.