2018 Schedule of Events
All the events are free to the public and are held at the Smokey Jack Observatory at The Bluff Park at the west end of Main Street in Westcliffe, CO.
May 18, Friday, 9:00 p.m. MDT: Jupiter and its Galilean Moons will be visible in the SE sky, and there will be a five-day waxing crescent Moon. As dusk gives way to full darkness other fainter objects such as galaxies, nebulas and star clusters will come into view. Back-up date is Saturday, May 19.
June 16, Saturday, 9:30 p.m. MDT: Saturn makes its first appearance of the year low in the SE sky with Jupiter prominent to the south. A three-day waxing crescent Moon gives you the opportunity to see the shadows of the craters and mountain ranges. As dusk gives way to full darkness other fainter objects such as galaxies, nebulas and star clusters will come into view.
July 17, Tuesday, 9:00 p.m. MDT: As the two giant gas planets, Jupiter and Saturn, continue to move across the night sky, Mars makes an appearance low in the southeast as it reaches its closest point to Earth. The delicate beauty of unimaginably distant galaxies, nebulas and star clusters can also be enjoyed. Back-up date is Wednesday, July 18.
August 13, Monday, 9:00 p.m. to the early morning hours of the 14th, MDT: The Perseids Meteor Shower makes its annual appearance, dazzling viewers with as many as 60 meteors per hour. This will be a particularly good year for watching the celestial fireworks because the Moon will set behind the mountains shortly after sunset, making even the faintest of meteors visible. Telescopes will be available to entertain visitors with spectacular close-ups of planets and various deep-sky objects, but for this event all you really need are your unaided eyes. Dress warmly; it gets very chilly after the sun goes down even in the summer.
September 14, Friday, 8:00 p.m. MDT: The Milky Way is nothing to snicker at. Immense clouds of gas and dust that are home to star nurseries are set against a backdrop of billions and billions of stars. Come see a sight that, sadly, is now visible only in places like the Wet Mountain Valley because of light pollution in the more populated areas of the nation. Saturn and Mars are also positioned for maximum viewing. Back-up date is Saturday, Sept. 15.
Friday, October 12, 7:30 p.m. MDT: For this final public star party of the season there will be a five-day crescent Moon providing outstanding views of the lunar topography. Jupiter has departed for the year and Saturn will be low in the SW sky, but Mars appears as a red jewel in the Milky Way’s diamond bracelet. And beyond our solar system lurk amazing deep-sky objects such as galaxies, nebulas and star clusters that are guaranteed to make you gasp in amazement. Back-up date is Saturday, October 13.
To see a more complete listing of astronomical events for 2018 visit: