Newspaper Archive of
Feather River Bulletin
Quincy, California
July 30, 2014     Feather River Bulletin
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July 30, 2014

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Bulletin, Recoro, Progressive, Reporter Wednesday, July 30, 2014 1B The top of Brokeoff Mountain provides spectacular views of the Milky Way arc, as well as faint views of Susanville, Westwood, Chester, Quincy and other surrounding towns. Photo by Cory Poole Dark skies provide remark:able celestial views in Plumas and Lassen counties Samantha P. Hawthorne Staff Writer he clean air and gorgeous vistas of Plumas and Lassen counties are only two of the many charms ,the area has to offer. Often, by zsimply stepping outside their ,doors, residents are greeted with pverwhelmingly peaceful :surroundings, making it lifficult not to stop and "smell the roses." ::. Daytime photos taken from Ynany of the county communities flood the media -- both in print and online. Many pictures accompany sentiments of how blessed the photographer is to live in the area. Once the sun sets, however, pictures are few and far between, despite the area's prime conditions for astrophotography. Although it can add to the experience, it's not necessary to own an expensive camera or large telescope to witness the beauty that is Lassen and Plumas counties' night skies. Most towns within the counties lack the distracting lights and polluted air that plague larger areas such as Sacramento and San Francisco, making it easy to see the sparkling stars at night. Photographers, astronomers and pleasure seekers can find delight in the area's nightlife without even leaving their homes. Once the rich colors of the sky have subsided and the moon has taken the place of the sun, a glance through household windows or a step outside the idoor will prove that. For astrophotographers and astronomers, there are certain 'environmental criteria that must be met in order to have optimal viewing conditions. This includes clear, dark skies with good transparency and no light pollutionl On most nights, Ithat is hardly an issue for this rural area. i For those who can navigate the night sky or who have access .to smartphone applications such :as Google Sky Map, it's easy to ispot planets such as Mars and stars such as Polaris. For those vho want a deeper look into pace, however, several local community groups and organizations provide the tools The Lagoon and Trifid Nebula, shot at the Bateson Observatory, are uncovered by stitching together 40 individual photos. To reduce noise and introduce as much detail as possible, astrophotographers stitch together multiple images. Photo by Randall Evans and knowledge to do so. On Facebook, a group of local community members as well as people from bordering counties have joined to share their expertise about astronomy and, at times, meet up to observe the local night sky. The group, Susanville Astronomy, consists of over 600 members, all of varying backgrounds with one common interest -- to enjoy the celestial scenery that is frequently overlooked. The open group's organizers hope to develop further interest within the community so it can host regular astronomy events. In the past few months, members of the group have shared amazing pictures and experiences from Hat Creek Rim Lookout, the Bateson Observatory, Lassen Volcanic National Park and their own backyards. These pictures reflect what can be seen with the naked eye, as well as celestial objects that require expensive equipment to view. In the last year, the Bateson Observatory-- a private observatory built near Susanville for scientific research and public education -- afforded several opportunities for the public to look through a 12-inch Ritchey-Chreti6n telescope and learn about the objects they saw in the sky. One 16-year-old girl who visited the observatory in June was so impressed with what she saw that she decided she wanted to learn more. At the time, she was studying astronomy through her school but had very Andromeda Galaxy rises over Lassen Peak in early July. Photo by Gory Poole ' little interest in the subject. It wasn't until she saw the rings of Saturn and craters of the moon that she really got excited. Feather River College is also taking advantage of the pollution-free skies with its midsummer night astronomy sessions. On July 26 it offered an evening of public education through the Research and Education Cooperative Occultation Network -- a unique astronomy research project supported by the A 12-minute exposure captures the rotation of the earth by creating star trails in the sky above Clear Creek on June 3. Photo by Samantha P. Hawthorne National Science Foundation. Lassen Volcanic National Park also has its own night sky programs, including Starry Nights, a ranger-led program held every Wednesday until Aug. 27; Lassen's Dark Sky tour held on select Saturdays; and the upcoming Dark Sky Festival on Aug. 1 - 3. According to the park's website, "Lassen is one of the last sanctuaries of natural darkness," and it is one of the best places to enjoy the night sky. Dark Sky Festival visitors will be shown how to spot the Milky Way, which is only visible when the sky is at its darkest and most clear. Other highlights include nightly constellation tours and stargazing, guided hikes, solar scope viewing, junior ranger astronomy and other hands-on activities. The event is free, with the exception of a $10 fee per vehicle. For more information visit the park's website, Chuck Romo everything fresh! beef and top grade chicken is hand carved and trimmed. Our chicken is marinated for up to 24 hours in Chef Romo's sauce. 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