Sunday night stargazing in Wilton

October is a prime stargazing month and a free program will take advantage of the stable atmosphere for a Skywatch event on Sunday evening, Oct. 14, 7:30, at Slaughter Field, at the corner of Nod Hill and Piper’s Hill roads.

Several amateur astronomers from the John J. McCarthy Observatory in New Milford will bring their telescopes and laser pointers to show a number of constellations including Andromeda, Cygnus, Lyra, Hercules, Cassiopeia, Cepheus, and Draco. Mars, Saturn, a crescent moon, star clusters, binary stars, and nebulae should also be visible.

Bob Lambert, one of the astronomers who will be on hand Sunday evening, said one of the highlights will be sky orienteering. The astronomers will explain what constellations are and use green laser pointers to highlight and explain how to recognize constellations at this time of year.

“People really don’t know how to navigate in the sky very well and they enjoy the program,” Lambert said.

Attendees will reap the benefit of the astronomy team’s experience. “Although we are all amateurs, we are pretty advanced,” he said, adding that at their observatory they have discovered asteroids and track hazardous asteroids for the Minor Planet Center at Harvard University. “We have 100 years of experience among us,” he said.

The event, which is sponsored by the Wilton Conservation Commission, Norwalk River Watershed Association, Wilton Garden Club, Wilton Land Conservation Trust and Woodcock Nature Center, was offered previously in November 2016 in the same location. Lambert said Slaughter Field is a good spot for observation with “a nice high hillock to set up our equipment, minimal light pollution, and enough area so we could spread out to accommodate the crowd.” He said he is looking forward to this year’s event.

Along with the stargazing, there there will be a bonfire near the Piper's Hill Road entrance where s'mores, hot chocolate, hot cider, and other refreshments will be available.  

Attendees should park along Piper's Hill Road and dress for the weather and tick prevention since the astronomers also will provide an opportunity to lie on the ground to identify some of the celestial bodies overhead. It is advisable to bring a blanket for that purpose and a flashlight.

Participants are asked to register in order to receive information in case weather postpones the event to Oct. 28. Email Dogs will not be permitted at this event.