The Orion Nebula is a place where stars are born, not Hollywood types but celestial ones. In January, it’s high in the night sky and easy to see. If you need a guide to point the way, volunteers will be on hand with telescopes and binoculars in a clear-sky area in Twentynine Palms, Calif.
The Sky’s the Limit Observatory and Nature Center outside the north entrance to Joshua Tree National Park invites all to attend a free stargazing event starting at 6 p.m. Saturday. You’ll be able to view the night sky through various sizes of telescopes set up along the sidewalks outside the observatory.
Visitors are welcome to come at any time during the two-hour event.
To the naked eye, the nebula appears as a fuzzy patch of light dangling from the three stars in Orion’s belt. Telescopes should provide a clearer view. You’ll also be able to identify Orion (the Hunter), Taurus (the Bull) and other constellations.
EarthSky’s website says: “According to modern astronomers, the Orion Nebula is an enormous cloud of gas and dust, one of many in our Milky Way galaxy. It lies roughly 1,300 light-years from Earth.”
Here are some tips to keep in mind if you go:
— A low of 36 degrees is forecast Saturday evening for the area. Dress warmly and in layers for temperatures that could drop quickly.
— Bring a red-light flashlight to preserve people’s night vision.
— Pack snacks, water bottles and chairs for your stargazing outing.
— Children younger than 16 must be accompanied by an adult.
— There’s no camping or places to stay overnight at the observatory. Visitors must pack out all their own trash.
— For visitors who may want to spend the night in the area, campgrounds for overnight stays are closed at Joshua Tree National Park because of the partial government shutdown.