Stargazing Party at Cades Cove

Staff Photo by Angie Stanley

Staff Photo by Angie Stanley

Around two hundred people gathered in a field in Cades Cove to gaze in to the heavens.  The National Park Service, along with the Smoky Mountain Astronomical Society, hosted a star gazing event.

“Ranger Mike” Maslona greeted visitors, explaining how The Cove was a “giant cereal bowl and we are the Rice Crispies,” pointing out how the surrounding mountains cancel out light pollution, making Cades Cove a perfect area for star gazing. Members of the SMAS were on hand with telescopes to allow guests to peer into the night sky and to point out different constellations, nebulae, planets, and other different heavenly objects that can’t be seen with the naked eye.  A part of the program featured many stories of how the constellations got their names, and old Chereokee folklore.

The highlights for the evening included Jupiter, which was one of the brightest beings in the sky for the evening, and the constellation Orion, who’s sword and belt shined bright for the group to see. Ideally, the skies should be perfectly clear for viewing, but the partly cloudy skies made the stargazing more of an adventure.

Also on hand was the SMAS club’s large telescope, affectionately known as Sasquatch.  About 20 inches in diameter, and tall enough to have to use a ladder to peer into it’s viewfinder, it remained focused on Jupiter and its moons for most of the evening.  The large telescope is powerful enough that Jupiter’s many colors could also be seen.

According to its website, the Smoky Mountain Astronomical Society is is an Astronomical League-affiliated club for astronomy enthusiasts in the East Tennessee.  They hold star parties throughout the area, including the Cherohala Skyway and Foothills Parkway.  The schedule of these parties is listed on their website smokymtnastro.org

Staff Photo by Angie Stanley

Staff Photo by Angie Stanley

Source: Angie Stanley, Jefferson County Post Staff Writer

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