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Watch the stars come out over Elachee

With August haze fading, astronomy program resumes this fall

POSTED: September 1, 2011 12:30 a.m.

Elachee Nature Science Center in Gainesville is preparing for the return of the monthly Stars Over Elachee program, which is scheduled to resume Sept. 3.

The program takes place once a month, during the optimal viewing times in accordance with the moon, Elachee administrator Karen Legg said.

The program run about two hours.

"It starts off with a breakdown of the telescopes and talking about how the telescopes work. Then, the telescopes are reassembled, and you get to explore the night sky," Elachee Education Director Peter Gordon said.

Gordon said the instructor will talk about telescope functionality, and then show participants how to find planets, stars and constellations.

Stars Over Elachee is scheduled monthly on weekend nights when the features of the night sky are easiest to discern.

"It's a wonderful chance to learn in a beautiful setting. You get to learn about aspects of nature that folks might not always consider," Gordon said.

Because of the heat and late sunsets, the program goes on hiatus in August, Legg said.

Each month, the focus is on different features in the sky. September's focus will be on the rings of Saturn and some constellations because this is the best time to see them, Gordon said.

The concentration will be on Jupiter, Venus and Mercury for the next Stars Over Elachee program Oct. 1.

"It's a fun time to get together and learn about the night sky. It's a great opportunity to view the sky and get more education about what you're seeing," Legg said.

The program is suitable for families, scout groups and astronomy buffs alike, but is best suited for children 8 and older.

Participants are encouraged to bring a pencil and a flashlight. Because of the limited availability of telescopes, preregistration is required.



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