Winter might seem too cold to set outside to star gaze, but it's the perfect season at Big Cypress National Preserve in Florida, where special astronomy programs are on tap in the coming months.
The ranger-led programs include constellation tours that guide visitors through the night sky, and telescope viewing of stars, star clusters, planets, nebulae, and galaxies. These events are free and open to the public.
The National Park Service, along with the South Florida Amateur Astronomers Association and the International Dark Sky Association - South Florida Chapter, will be conducting night sky outings on the following dates and times through the winter:
January 3, 2014, 7 p.m.
February 1, 2014, 7 p.m.
March 7, 2014, 8 p.m.
April 5, 2014, 8:30 p.m.
Programs will be conducted at the southern end of Seagrape Drive. The welcome center and Seagrape Drive are located along US 41, east of SR 29, between Mile Marker 73 and 74.
Big Cypress Swamp Welcome Center
33000 Tamiami Trail East
Ochopee, FL 34141
Outdoor seating will not be available during the interpretive program, telescope viewing, and constellation tours, so you might want to bring your own lawn chairs or blankets. Night-time temperatures can be cool, and mosquitoes may be present. And you should be prepared for adverse weather conditions. Presentations may be conducted in the welcome center auditorium if weather prevents night sky viewing.
Pants and long sleeve shirts or jackets and bug spray are recommended. Participants may consider bringing a flashlight (preferably with a red filter) for walking to and from the viewing area. Individuals and local astronomy societies are welcome to bring personal binoculars and telescopes to the viewing area.