Reaching for the stars

Maxwell Reister

The stars on the Palouse encourage the pondering of the life’s mysteries. Those interested in gazing away can do so at the WSU Jewett Observatory this Saturday at 7 p.m.

“Stargazing satisfies a basic human need to understand our place in the universe,” said Guy Worthey, an associate professor for the WSU Department of Physics and Astronomy.

Other basic human needs like barbecued meats and live jazz music will also be featured at the stargazing party. Worthey and other members of the Palouse Astronomical Society will start cooking hot dogs, veggie dogs and bratwurst at 7 p.m., with a suggested donation of $7.

Meanwhile, The Unusual Suspects will tootle their way through a whole range of astronomically-themed jazz. In other words, a tune about personal aerial trips to Earth’s lunar sidekick will likely be performed.

“I’ve never made it to the observatory but I’m trying to get some people from my residence hall floor to go this weekend,” said Taylor White, a sophomore communication major. “I love the look of the stars, and I really enjoy the works of astrophysicist Carl Sagan. He brought wonder to astronomy.”

After the lights dim around 9 p.m., all attention will turn skyward through the 12-inch lens built by Alvan Clark & Sons for the Jewett Observatory telescope.

“With a clear night, we should see star clusters, double stars, a few galaxies,” said Worthey.

One of the headliners of Saturday’s show will be an appearance by the planet Saturn and its scintillating rings of dust, rock and ice. The mighty hulk of Jupiter may also appear in the wee hours, Worthey said.

Worthey also recommended people bring a few extra layers of warm clothing and a camping chair to best enjoy Saturday’s show. If clouds are too dense to see stars Saturday night, the event will be postponed to a later date.

The Jewett Observatory star parties are usually held once a month, and are announced on the Palouse Astronomical Society website. If the night sky is bewildering and incomprehensible, members of the society are glad to help make sense of any mysteries of the astral variety.