With Jupiter in spotlight, New Milford observatory holds star-gazing event
Too small to see from even a high-powered telescope, NASA’s little Juno spacecraft has orbited Jupiter since Monday.
But just because no one can see it, it won’t stop New Milford’s stargazers from gazing upward from 8 to 10 p.m. Saturday for a Second Saturday Stars event at the John J. McCarthy Observatory at New Milford High School.
“Not even the Hubble can see it,” said Observatory co-founder Bob Lambert. “Money cannot buy [a telescope] that would allow you see Juno.”
Although the spacecraft is not visible to the human eye, we still know it’s doing well up there, said NASA Spokesman Laurie Cantillo.
“It’s going completely to plan,” Cantillo said Thursday.
Juno’s five-year, 1.8 million mile trip culminated Monday, after the solar-powered spacecraft entered Jupiter’s orbit.
Every second of Saturday of the month for the past decade, amateur astronomers get together at the observatory to hear a talk on some facet of the astronomy and stare through telescopes aimed at what they can see, Lambert said.
How to Go:
Second Saturday Stars
8 to 10 p.m. Saturday July 9
John J. McCarthy Observatory
388 Danbury Rd, New Milford, CT 06776
Saturday, while Juno will be out of the picture, Jupiter itself will be in full sight, he said, and there’s plenty of excitement about NASA’s successful mission to the planet.
The Saturday events were created to open the skies to all those that are interested — young and old, Lambert said.
The observatory was built behind the New Milford High School building and created with accessibility in mind, he said, adding that he knows of a number of people as young as 12 years old who can handle the complex technology all by themselves. Children of any age are welcome, he said.
Lambert said he can’t count the number of times he has signed off on school extra credit slips for area students.
During the school year, the observatory works closely with the nearby high school’s astronomy classes, and teens are constantly walking about the grounds, Lambert said.
While the academic work is a source of pride for the volunteer observatory, the second Saturday events are personally satisfying for Lambert. He usually gives a talk twice a year, and he spends about 40 to 50 hours of work on research for each one, he said.
“There’s always a fascinating new discovery,” Lambert said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.