The Dark Skies, Bright Kids program at the University of Virginia and the Charlottesville Astronomical Society will host the annual Central Virginia “Star Party” Saturday, from 6 to 10 p.m., at Albemarle CiderWorks, located at 2545 Rural Ridge Lane in North Garden. The rain (or cloud) date is Aug. 30 at the same time and location.
Families are invited to view spectacular astronomical objects through telescopes and learn about the solar system, the night sky, galaxies and the universe through fun hands-on activities. There will be raffle prizes, apple cider tastings and food trucks, and each child will receive a glow stick as long as supplies last.
Visitors should bring chairs or blankets, insect repellent, drinking water and flashlights.
Dark Skies, Bright Kids is an outreach club founded by the U.Va. Department of Astronomy and dedicated to bringing astronomy to the area’s rural elementary schools. Staffed and run by volunteers, the organization hosts eight- to 10-week after-school astronomy clubs at rural elementary schools in southern Albemarle County as well as one-time events at other locations in the area.
Rural schools are chosen for this program in an effort to bring science-based after-school programs to areas where such programs may not exist, and because rural areas have some of the darkest skies in the East – great for viewing stars and planets.
“Our most important goals are to show students that science can be fun and encourage them to be curious and inquisitive about the world around them,” said program organizer Kelsey Johnson, a U.Va. astronomy professor.