The Local Group Astronomy Club of Santa Clarita held its first star party in more than a year at Vasquez Rocks on Saturday.
The club, which put the quarterly parties on hold due to the pandemic, returned Saturday with a workshop to help new telescope owners use their equipment.
Club organizers also brought their own telescopes to safely view sun spots and sun flares until a little after 8 p.m. when they transitioned to nighttime viewing to see Sagittarius and Scorpius.
“During the summer, there’s a number of pretty interesting constellations and stars,” said John Cogan, the club’s newsletter editor, pointing to the south.
Cogan said club leaders like Dave Flynn provide an overview of the sky to members and others who are attending the star party for the first time.
Local Scouts, youth and schools, which have invited the group to their campuses, have taken advantage of the educational opportunity at Vasquez Rocks and at other locations across the state.
Flynn said at least 10,000 people will look through the club’s telescopes over the course of a normal year.
Valencia resident Jeff Wright was early to the star party with his two young daughters.
“We just got a telescope a few weeks ago, so we figured this would be a great opportunity talk with some of these experts,” he said.
Wright said the event was a free opportunity to explore the natural world.
Families like Wright’s are exactly what Glenn Dasore, who helped revive the club alongside Flynn about 12 years ago, hopes to see at these events.
“Our goal is to hopefully reach some young persons to get interested in astronomy,” said Dasore, noting the club was founded by two women in 1984. “They were leery about going out themselves, so they said, ‘We ought to start a club.’”
Christine Coleman, who bought her first telescope in 1999, learned about the club three years ago. She was excited to learn more about using her new telescope Saturday.
“I wanted to be able to learn the sky,” the Valencia resident said, noting she was impressed by Flynn’s knowledge of space.
Now, she’s able to point out different stars, planets and constellations.
“It makes them feel good and gets them excited,” she said of a time when a fellow camper was fact-checking her knowledge using a phone app to interpret the night sky.
Coleman said her telescope has become a conversation starter in her neighborhood when she’s viewing the sky from her driveway.
“People are interested to learn more — more than I thought,” she said.
To learn more about Local Group Astronomy Club of Santa Clarita, visit lgscv.org.