Are the stars out tonight?

Two county parks host August ‘Starwatch’ parties

WCCO-AM Meteorologist Mike Lynch adjusts a telescope at a previous Starwatch party. Lynch brings his popular astronomy program to Big Marine Park Reserve Aug. 3 and Lake Elmo Park Reserve Aug. 30. (Gazette file photo)

WCCO-AM Meteorologist Mike Lynch adjusts a telescope at a previous Starwatch party. Lynch brings his popular astronomy program to Big Marine Park Reserve Aug. 3 and Lake Elmo Park Reserve Aug. 30. (Gazette file photo)

Washington County residents can turn their eyes to the skies for The Big Bear, Cygnus the Swan, Scorpius the Scorpion and the great stories behind them at August “Starwatch” parties at two county parks.

Mike Lynch, WCCO-AM 830 meteorologist, presents the free parties from 9 to 11 p.m. Aug. 3 at Big Marine Park Reserve in May Township and 8:15 to 10:30 p.m. Aug. 30 at Lake Elmo Park Reserve.

Visitors will use large reflecting telescopes, including two 20-inch reflectors that are among the biggest mobile telescopes in the state, and a new astronomical camera-telescope system to view constellations, planets, star clusters, galaxies, nebulae and more.

Participants will receive user-friendly star maps and constellation charts for personal use.

Lynch has hosted Starwatch parties and teaching astronomy classes for more than 40 years, writes a weekly stargazing column for a local paper and is the author of “Mike Lynch’s Minnesota Star Watch.” Even if it’s cloudy, visitors will learn a lot, have a great time and get a Lynch “Cloud Check” for a future Starwatch party.

The event is free and no registration is required. Visitors are encouraged to bring lawn chairs, blankets, snacks and insect spray for a more enjoyable time. Visitors will need either a $5 daily parking pass or $25 annual parking pass.

Big Marine Park Reserve is at 17495 Manning Trail North (CSAH 15), one-half mile north of 170th Street (CSAH 4) in May Township.

Lake Elmo Park Reserve is at the intersection of County roads 10 and 19, one mile north of Interstate 94 in Lake Elmo.

Visit www.co.washington.mn.us/parks for more information of the Starwatch parties and other events at the parks.

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