Walking around NYC in the winter months -- boots on, bundled up -- one wouldn't expect to ever look up what with all the black ice, snow piles, contents of tipped over trash cans, and dog poop to avoid. Every once in a while, while waiting for the white hand to tell me it’s alright to cross the street, I look up at these small points of light and wonder, “Is that an airplane? A reflection off the street lamp? A UFO? No…a STAR? Wait…there’s another one…and another!” And soon I find myself staring at the blinking red hand informing me that I took way too long to ponder the contents of the sky.
Photo of Supernova courtesy CU Astronomy Outreach Past Events Page at http://outreach.astro.columbia.edu/past/index.html
In Morningside Heights, one can see stars on a clear night. One can even see a moon – or moons -- heck, even a planet! Super vision? No! Columbia College hosts bi-monthly lectures and stargazing through their Astronomy Outreach Program! All events are free and open to the public. For more information, the viewing schedule, and lecture series visit their website. The next lecture and viewing (if cloud-cover is minimal) will be Friday, March 7, 2014 from 7-9pm in Pupin Hall.
For some light reading, grab a "Backyard Stars: A Guide for Home and the Road" from the Gottesman library's collection (call number CURR QB 799. B3. 1998 located in the 2nd floor reading room) or the highly-rated "NightWatch: a practical guide to viewing the universe" from Butler's Library (call number QB64 .D533 1999g located in Milstein). For instant access, here's a link to an ebook "Stargazing Basics" through CLIO. A great search term to pop into the CLIO or EDUCAT databases is "Astronomy Amateurs' manuals" or "Astronomy Popular works" if you're just curious to learn more about stars, visually. Happy gazing!