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story.lead_photo.caption LYNN KUTTER ENTERPRISE-LEADER Melissa Hoffman of Prairie Grove looks through one of the telescopes set up for a Star Party at Prairie Grove Battlefield State Park.

PRAIRIE GROVE -- More than 300 children and adults recently spent an evening looking at the night sky through 14 telescopes set up at Prairie Grove Battlefield State Park.

The Sugar Creek Astronomical Society of Bella Vista and NWA Space hosted a free Star Party to help get people excited about space, said Katherine Auld, board chairman of NWA Space.

People were able to see the moon, Jupiter, Venus and other objects through the telescopes earlier in the evening. Auld said she hoped Saturn would be visible later in the night.

The Society hosts free star parties about six times a year at Hobbs State Park-Conservation Area but wanted to find a place in the southern end of the region, Auld said. The Battlefield State Park was perfect, she noted, because it had parking available and a large open space for the telescopes.

The event was set up next to the new bathroom facility and in the field near the Borden House.

Basically, Auld said, the goal of the Star Party was for people to look through telescopes and just say, "Oh, wow."

It also provides the opportunity to educate people about astronomy, she said.

"We've found that anything having to do with space and stars, people will come and look," she said.

NWA Space, a non-profit organization, is in the midst of a plan to construct a two-phase science center on 20 acres in Lowell. The first phase, Auld said, will be an observatory to house a 36-foot-long refracting telescope the organization received last year from Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania.

A 100-seat planetarium will be part of the second phase of construction.

Susan Adkins, superintendent of the Battlefield State Park, said she was excited to have a Star Party in Prairie Grove and was open to more in the future.

Several people looking through the telescopes said it was the first time they had come to an event to look at planets and stars.

"This is great," said Melissa Hoffman of Prairie Grove.

Kara Cueno of Springdale read about the event on Facebook. She was looking at the moon with one of the telescopes.

"This is pretty cool," Cueno said. "You can see a crater about the size of Texas on the moon."

General News on 07/04/2018

Print Headline: Folks Flock To Battlefield Park For Star Party

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