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This free public outreach/meetup group is sponsored by the Astronomical Society of Southern New England (ASSNE). All events listed on the meetup page are free and open to the public -- adults and kids are welcome! Observing sessions feature a variety of telescopes and knowledgeable and enthusiastic amateur astronomers who will be happy to show you an "up close" view of the moon, planets, stars, and deep-sky objects such as galaxies and nebulas. ASSNE-sponsored events range from 50-500 people (they are advertised in local media and through various online networks, in addition to Meetup).
Three things to know about attending our public meetups:
White lights and camera flash should not be used on the observing field. It takes 10-15 minutes for your eyes to become "dark adapted" - at which point you will have the best vision for looking at objects in the sky and seeing detail. But look at a white light, and that dark adaptation is lost (for you and everyone else exposed to it). We use red lights on the field, which do not affect dark adaptation. If you must use a white light or cel phone, please point it at the ground or shield it from others' eyes.
Dress warmly: Standing outside at night on an open field, you lose heat quickly. Our rule of thumb is to check the nighttime low temperature, then dress as if it will be 10-20 degrees colder than that. Wear socks and closed shoes or boots and dress in layers. In fall through spring, it never hurts to bring a hat, jacket, and gloves. If you are warm, you'll stay out longer and enjoy yourself more!
Observing is always "weather permitting": Telescopes can't see through clouds, so we observe only if the sky is clear to partly cloudy. Events can be cancelled at short notice if clouds/rain/snow are projected for the evening hours. Once in a while, an event may be cancelled because of ground conditions -- i.e., too icy/snowy/muddy. We have club members who excel at weather forecasting and who check the field conditions ahead of time, and if an event might be cancelled, they will try to make the call by noon of that day. Before you head out to an event, check the meetup page for updates (and check the weather forecast too -- sometimes weather conditions can change very fast).
More about ASSNE: The Stargazers public outreach group is sponsored by a formal, dues-paying club: the Astronomical Society of Southern New England, a group of 100+ amateur astronomers from the South Massachusetts/Rhode Island area. Our membership represents a wide range of astronomical interests: visual observing, astrophotography, comet hunting, lunar and planet observing, deep sky object and asteroid tagging, telescope building, etc.
Above all, we have one thing in common; a passion for astronomy. Our club motto is to educate and inspire, which means that we not only financially sponsor this Meetup group, but on a volunteer basis host public observing nights, give astronomy talks, and do demonstrations. You can learn more about us at www.assne.org. We welcome inquiries from teachers and non-profit groups who would like to host an astronomy night at their school or community venue. And if you have a telescope or binoculars, you are welcome to bring it to any of our events (or come to a club meeting to learn how to use it).
If you attend a couple of our public meetups and decide you'd like to be more involved in astronomy, ASSNE welcomes formal membership applications from individuals and families. Individual dues are $20 per year; club membership provides a chance to participate in ASSNE member-only club trips, observing nights, and ongoing projects. But please note, ASSNE membership is not a requirement to attend any of our listed Stargazer public meetups!
You also do not need to know anything about astronomy or own any equipment to attend our public meetups. I guarantee though you will learn plenty! So come and enjoy the night sky with us, and of course we will happily answer your questions. We look forward to seeing you under the stars!