Stargazers will gather Saturday at the University of Arizona Mall to search the skies and raise money for youth astronomy education efforts.
The fourth annual Sharing the Sky Foundation star party and fundraiser will feature up to 40 telescopes available for public viewing from 3:30 to 10 p.m., said Liz Kalas, an event coordinator.
Six to eight scopes fitted with special solar filters will allow daytime viewers to safely see flares coming off the sun’s surface, Kalas said.
As it gets darker, lighting on the UA Mall will be darkened to allow better viewing of the night sky, she said.
Saturn viewing will be good Saturday night, with the planet’s rings appearing more flat and head-on than normal, she said.
First-quarter moon viewing also will be good, she said.
Attendees also will be able to see a wide variety of galaxies and nebulas.
The event is free, but donations will be accepted to fund the efforts of Vail-based Sharing the Sky Foundation, Kalas said.
The nonprofit foundation was started four years ago by famed astronomer and comet discoverer David Levy and his wife, Wendee Levy. The foundation runs programs locally and nationally that offer children motivation and inspiration to learn about astronomy, Wendee Levy said.
Saturday’s UA event will feature a “kids corner” area where children – and adults – can participate in hands-on activities that will let them better experience skygazing, Levy said.
The telescopes will be manned by members of the Tucson Amateur Astronomy Association.
“These astronomers are some of the most enthusiastic people I have ever met. They just can’t wait to show off the sky,” Levy said. “These people just love what they do.
“This is the event to test drive a telescope – you’ll see all shapes, sizes and kinds,” she said.
The event is free and open to the public, and donations to the foundation are encouraged, she said.
“But we’re just hoping this will be a great event,” Levy said. “To raise awareness and get people excited, that is our primary goal.”
IF YOU GO
What: Sharing the Sky Foundation sky party and fundraiser
When: 3:30-10 p.m. Saturday
Where: University of Mall near the Flandrau Science Center, 1601 E. University Blvd.
Cost: free, with tax-deductible donations accepted for the nonprofit foundation.