SCOUT KEY, Florida Keys — Prime viewing of southern constellations, comets and stars is to be the “starring attraction” for hundreds of amateur and professional astronomers Monday through Sunday, Feb. 4-10, in the Lower Florida Keys.
As many as 650 astronomers and astro-imagers from several countries are to gather for the 35th annual Winter Star Party, held at two Scout camps around mile marker 34 U.S. Highway 1 on Scout Key.
The event’s primary attraction for astronomers is the large number of southern constellations and other celestial objects that are visible from the Florida Keys — virtually the only place in the continental United States where they can be seen. The Keys’ southern location, “steady” skies and relative absence of large-scale artificial lighting at night provide optimal viewing conditions.
Event coordinator Charlie Perillo said the Florida Keys’ subtropical winter weather is another consideration that draws participants from around the U.S. as well as Canada and Europe.
In addition to nightly stargazing opportunities, Winter Star Party participants can attend lectures and presentations by nationally recognized astronomers and guest speakers. Attendees also can shop for astronomy equipment from on-site vendors, participate in photo contests, compete for prizes, learn what’s new in the field and share observing ideas and astro-imaging techniques with fellow aficionados.
Established in 1984, the Winter Star Party is hosted by Miami’s Southern Cross Astronomical Society. The event is open to registrants only.
Event information: scas.org
Lower Keys visitor information: fla-keys.com/lowerkeys or 1-800-872-3722