Blanco State Park hosted its second successful Stars-in-the-Park event Saturday night, February 11. Despite cold temperatures, a brisk north wind, and, worse of all, a persistent layer of clouds, almost forty people attended the event. Volunteers from the Austin Astronomical Society and the Hill Country Astronomers were on hand to assist.
When it because obvious that the clouds overhead would not allow direct observation of the night sky, a fire was built in the park pavilion’s fireplace and, warmed by the blaze, attendees were treated to an expanded Stellarium presentation. The Stellarium program is similar to a planetarium but can be projected onto a flat screen and allows the night sky to be shown in real time or at any time in the past or future. Blanco’s John Watson used the program to explain many of the wonders of the night sky. He and the other amateur astronomers present were able to take the attendees to distant galaxies, nebulas, and star clusters as well as show why the winter nighttime sky is so different from that of summer. Everyone present learned a great deal about the marvelous natural splendor that is the night sky above Blanco.
Mary Alice Partain, Blanco State Park interpretative ranger, stated that the park is pleased with the public reception of its Stars-in-the-Park initiative and gratified by the many volunteers who make it possible. The next Stars-in-the-Park event will be in May, exact date to be announced.