Astronomy Viewing in Brommelsiek Park, Wentzville: This St. Charles County park has an area dedicated to astronomy viewing, making it a great spot for stargazing on clear nights. Aspiring astronomers who can't quite tell Scorpius from Sagittarius can get help from the Astronomical Society of Eastern Missouri, which leads public viewings Friday nights beginning at dusk. Brommelsiek Park is located at 1615 Schwede Rd., Wentzville, MO. For information about upcoming viewings visit asemonline.org.
Gateway to the Stars, Gateway Arch National Park: The Gateway Arch, which is a bit of a star itself, shares the spotlight with the night sky on select nights throughout the summer. Gateway to the Stars events begin with a ranger-led talk followed by a telescope viewing of Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, and craters on the moon, led by the St. Louis Astronomical Society. Telescope viewings are weather-dependent; call 314-655-1708 the afternoon of the event for updates. Upcoming Gateway to the Stars events are scheduled for 8-10 p.m. June 23 and July 21; other events are in the works for Aug. 25, Sept. 22 and Oct. 20. Visitors should meet in the Education Classroom inside the Arch Visitor Center. For more information, visit nps.gov/jeff or gatewayarch.com.
Star Gazing Parties, St. Charles City-County Library District: The St. Louis Astronomical Society will be at various library branches throughout the summer to provide its expert knowledge. Family-friendly Star Parties meet throughout the summer from 7-8:30 p.m. Participants can view the night sky through a telescope and also learn how to use one on their own. To register and find branch locations visit the St. Charles City-County Library District's webpage. Need an extra eye to the sky? St. Charles City County-Library District and St. Louis County Library District both offer free telescope check-out programs.
Star Parties, Saint Louis Science Center: Visit the Saint Louis Science Center for free Star Parties at First Fridays, held the first Friday of each month. On clear nights visitors can view the stars through telescopes provided by the St. Louis Astronomical Society, or explore the night sky indoors at the planetarium's Orthwein StarBay during a Live Sky tonight show. The Saint Louis Science Center is located at 5050 Oakland Ave., St. Louis, MO.
The Nature Institute, Godfrey, Illinois: Love stars? Join the club! Visitors can record constellations and learn more about The Nature Institute's Astronomy Association at the association's monthly meeting on the third Thursday of each month (the time varies, so be sure to check The Nature Institute's website for details). Meetings begin with a presentation about what's happening in the night sky that evening, followed by outdoor stargazing. The event is geared toward audiences ages 7 and up. Visitors should wear comfortable shoes and dress for the weather. The institute also recommends bringing binoculars, rather than a telescope, until familiar with the constellations. Note that all trails close at dusk. The event is free, though donations are accepted; reservations are required. Call 618-466-9930 to register. The Nature Institute is located at 2213 S. Levis Lane, Godfrey, IL.
Under the Stars, Laumeier Sculpture Park: Learn more about the history of astronomy while viewing the night sky at Laumeier Sculpture Park Aug. 18 from 7:30-9:30 p.m. Cost is $10; register online. Laumeier Sculpture Park is located at 12580 Rott Rd., St. Louis, MO.
If all this stargazing has your family excited about astronomy, learn more at these local destinations:
Challenger Learning Center, Ferguson: If your little rocket man prefers traveling through the galaxy to viewing it through a telescope, plan a visit to the Challenger Learning Center, where kids can learn more about space through camps, simulated space missions and more. If your school or organization is studying astronomy, the Challenger Learning Center can also bring the stars to you with its portable planetarium. The Challenger Learning Center is located at 205 Brotherton Lane, St. Louis, MO.
Crow Observatory, Washington University: Peer through an antique telescope acquired by Washington University in 1863 at the Crow Observatory. Depending on the time of year, the telescope offers views of the moon's surface; Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn; and "deep sky objects," which are objects that are beyond our solar system. The observatory is open on clear nights Monday through Thursday, 7-10 p.m. during standard time (8-10 p.m. during daylight saving time). Because it is staffed by students, the observatory is only open during the university's fall and spring semesters. Crow Observatory is located at the top of Crow Hall on the northeast corner of Washington University's Hilltop Campus. The observatory is free; reservations are required only for larger groups.
Editorial Assistant Tyne Benesek contributed to this article.
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