by Rich Csenge
Just in time for the holidays, Kanab’s nonprofit Stellar Vista Observatory (SVO) has a gift for Kane County residents! Rolling out its novel, grant-funded program, Discover the Night Sky, the Kanab based 501c3 nonprofit is making available on loan, astronomical quality binoculars with a steady tripod and comfortable mount, and telescopes designed to introduce would-be astronomers to the wonders of southern Utah’s starry skies. Program guidelines, how to participate, and the special equipment available for use are all described in full at www.stellar vistaobservatory.org. The first five families to sign up for the program can choose to receive a bonus: a large wall poster featuring either a beautiful celestial object at high magnification, or the Earth at night as seen from the International Space Station!
Parents take note: this program offers a fantastic recreational learning experience for youth! Funded by a Children’s Outdoor Education Grant from the Utah Governor’s Office of Outdoor Recreation through the Office of Economic Development (GOED), with matching funds from the Kane County Office of Tourism, the program encourages and facilitates outdoor recreation for youth ages six to 18, with parental guidance at all levels of experience. Six astronomy kits have been set up, tested, and are ready for distribution in a free, Covid-safe lending program. The kits include two binocular, and four table-top telescopes. User guides, books, sky maps and more for successful observation are provided with each equipment loan, along with telephone and e-mail support.
For those who do not own a telescope or powerful binocular, gaining experience, understanding and sheer enjoyment by observing the Moon, constellations, planets, stars, nebulae and even galaxies beyond the Milky Way in a relaxed, self-directed manner has never been easier. SVO’s Discover the Night Sky program affords a unique opportunity to transform feelings of confinement, restlessness, boredom and disappointment brought about by the ongoing viral pandemic into active outdoor learning enjoyment, even as Covid-19 continues to constrain normal social activities.
If your family or friends are interested, you can request a free astronomy kit by visiting: www.stellarvistaobservatory.org. The program will run through the end of 2021.
Stellar Vista Observatory was created by local residents to provide observational experiences for people to enjoy, appreciate and comprehend what we can see in southern Utah’s starry night skies. Its ultimate goal is to construct and operate an educational astronomical observatory in Kanab for the benefit of residents and visitors alike.
In addition to the materials provided with each kit, guidance about what and when to observe is supplemented through SVO’s ongoing series of Sky Reports, published weekly in the Southern Utah News and on its website at https://stellarvistaobservatory.org/category/sky-reports/.