Do you sometimes wonder what that bright star is that you keep seeing in the nighttime sky? Maybe it’s not even a star at all! To find out what you’re seeing, plan to attend the Winnebago County Conservation Board’s Summer Stargazing program at the Pilot Knob State Park tower. The program will be held tonight, beginning at 9:15 PM, and lasting about 45-60 minutes.
During the program, people will learn how to identify some of the more common summer constellations and asterisms, such as Scorpius the Scorpion, Sagittarius the Archer, Lyra the Lyre, Cygnus the Swan (also known as the Northern Cross), Aquilla the Eagle, and the Summer Triangle. Popular year-round constellations, such as the Big and Little Dippers and Cassiopeia, will also be easy to spot. Everyone will also learn about some of the brighter stars, as well. In addition, three planets—Saturn, Jupiter, and Mars–will all be shining brightly in the southern sky and the Perseid Meteor Shower should provide a good opportunity to see a few “shooting stars!” (Spoiler alert…They’re not really stars!)
The WCCB’s Summer Stargazing program will be free of charge and open to the public. People should bring along a flashlight for the walk back to the parking lot after the program. Star charts will also be handed out to all participants to take home after the program. In case of cloudy skies, the program will have to be postponed or canceled and that announcement will run on KIOW Radio (FM 107.3), as well as the WCCB Facebook page (www.facebook.com/WinnebagoCCB) and the WCCB twitter feed (@WinnebagoCCB). For more information about the program, people can contact Winnebago County Naturalist Lisa Ralls at either 641-565-3390 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.