Public outreach @ Stehekin (Lake Chelan)

Default event

Open to Public

Type: Outreach

Held on: Sep 02, 2013 (Mon) at 09:00 PM to Sep 02, 2013 (Mon) at 11:00 PM

Location: 47.680880, -122.341411

Event Coordinator: Zongyao Mao

Stehekin, on the dry side of the North Cascades, is on the western end of Lake Chelan in the middle of the darkest skies of Washington.  A couple of us rangers do public astronomy talks and telescope viewings in the late summer when the weather is pleasant.  We're in a deep valley, so the horizons are not perfect (although almost to the horizon in southeast), but the skies are pitch black, the weather is typically warm, and there are lots of tourist amenities nearby--restaurant, hotel, camping, running water and electricity, auditorium, etc.  There is no road access; the only access is by ferry boat (which can carry lots of equipment), float plane, or hiking.


Latitude 47.68136, Longitude -122.3408605


From our volunteers (Vasuki Seshadri):

My friend and I spent the weekend at Stehekin at the north end of Lake Chelan. We were there at the request of Ranger Jeff Zylland of the National Park Service, who wanted to host a star party for the general public over the Labor Day weekend. We were blessed with wonderful weather and some of the darkest skies in Washington. Limiting visual magnitude was definitely better than 6 and maybe better than 6.5.

When we started at 9 PM, it was still within astronomical twilight, but already getting dark enough to see the Milky Way! We were pleasantly surprised by the initial turnout of nearly 75 very enthusiastic people (thanks to the hard work of Jeff and his wife, Ranger Kate, who both did a marvelous job publicizing the event).

We had two scopes set up (my Meade 10" LX50, and Jeff's C8), in addition to a few pairs of binoculars. Long lines at the scopes did not deter people of all ages from patiently awaiting views of various objects such as Albireo, M51, M13, M81/82, Wild Duck Cluster, Ring Nebula and many others. The Andromeda Galaxy was visible naked eye and spectacular through binoculars. Everyone had a wonderful time, and I'm sure it was a valuable learning experience for many of those present.

I was honestly surprised by how dark the skies were, and can easily recommend this remote part of the North Cascades National Park complex for any level of observer. One thing to note: Stehekin is only accessible by boat, so if you're taking a large telescope, you will need to make prior arrangements with the boating company. I definitely plan to go back someday. If you have any questions, please let me know.

From the main event organizers:

I just wanted to thank the SAS for helping with our astronomy day in Stehekin.  Vasuki and his friend Shankar came with a telescope to volunteer at our astronomy event on Labor Day Weekend.  It was a huge success: we had about 90 people at the evening stargazing event between and 11pm.  Since we only have two astronomy rangers and one other telescope to operate, it was essential to have Vasuki helping out on his telescope and his friend to help with setting up and logistics.  Vasuki was wonderful with the public--he said that the SAS emphasizes public education, which you clearly do successfully.  It was a beautiful night and I think everybody went home satisfied.  We would like to keep in touch for future possibilities of star parties in Stehekin.  I will copy Ken Hires, the Chief Interpretive Ranger in Stehekin, as he is permanenthere; I am a summer seasonal ranger.  August to early September is the typical time that we schedule these events due to weather and sunset time.


Number of Supporters: 2

Number of Attendees: 90

Number of Telescopes: 2

Duration (hours): 2.0



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