Star-gazing parties summer staple at Oasis State Park

By Christina Calloway

ccalloway@pntonline.com

Seeing stars without the distraction of city lights is one of the perks of working at Oasis State Park.

It’s a joy the staff shares with the community each summer through the star gazing parties they host. For Valerie Russ, a park tech advanced who has been at Oasis for 10 years, it’s the “aha” moment children have when they discover a constellation that makes hosting the event worthwhile.

“It’s just the little kids, that moment they realize they’re seeing something cool,” Russ said.

She hopes to witness those moments tonight at another star party.

The park staff has teamed up with the Clovis Astronomy Club for a night of looking at the stars, beginning at dusk.

People are encouraged to bring their binoculars and telescopes as members of the Clovis Astronomy Club will be the night’s guide.

Clovis Astronomy Club President Tim Krieghauser of Clovis said club members will provide some telescopes so that people can get a better view of the beauty that lies in the night sky.

“There are many things to see in the night sky,” Krieghauser said. “And we will observe Saturn, hopefully Jupiter as it sets in the west, and some deep sky objects such as star clusters and nebula.”

Krieghauser said the club is an outreach group that will come to an event to share knowledge of the skies, sometimes in the daytime with solar viewing, but most of the events take place at night.

He hopes that people will continue to come out to the Oasis star parties after tonight’s because there are notable changes in the night sky throughout the year.

“If someone attends star parties at different times of the year or even the season, they see the changes in the sky,” Krieghauser said. “Each season has different things to see as the sky changes from month to month, and sometimes event events like comets or meteor showers take place.”

Krieghauser added Oasis has good dark skies and a great area for them to set up their equipment.

“We participate to share the things that we see in the sky with others, and to raise awareness of the awesome beauty that lies above us,” Krieghauser said. “And it gives us an opportunity to be out in nature.”

Russ said the event can run from dusk until well past 11 p.m., depending on audience participation and attendance. There were also be prize giveaways for attendees.

Fast facts
What: Night of looking at the stars
When: Today at dusk (the event is weather permitting).
Where: Oasis State Park. Motorists are asked to dim their headlights and park in the ballfield across from the main office.
Cost: The event is free but there is a $5 entrance fee per vehicle for non-annual permit holders.

Additional information:
• Attendees are encouraged to bring binoculars and telescopes.