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Story and photos by Mary Sasso

July 16, 2017 (Mount Helix) – Saturday night’s Astronomy Night atop Mount Helix attracted astronomy buffs as well as photographers seeking shots of the expansive city views below, families, and couples set up with picnic blankets watching the romantic sunset.

The evening began when we  pulled up winding roads on Mt. Helix and were directed to a parking area near the San Miguel fire station. Volunteers showed us to a chartered bus that took us to the upper parking area, where we were greeted by volunteers from Boy Scouts of America. Before we walked up to the astronomy viewing area, we were given a handout that tells you what constellations and  planets you can see, along with a star chart and information on light pollution.

Ascending the last slope, the way was lit up by Boy Scouts with small flash lights. At the top of the mountain, members of the San Diego Astronomy Association had various telescopes set up. There were lines behind each, with families waiting to learn more about the night sky. 

A man wearing a wizard hat was helping two women see Jupiter without the telescope before showing them Jupiter through the telescope. According to the handout, Jupiter is the largest and often brightest planet when Venus is not in the sky. It can be found in the Constellation Virgo in the Southwest sky.

Other notable constellations you could see with your naked eye were Sagittarius, Scorpius, Cygnus and Hercules. If the light pollution was not so strong, you would be able to see the Milky Way.  To view you, you need to go to Lake Cuyamaca or further away from the strong city lights. 

To find out about other San Diego Astronomy Associations at other local places, visit http://www.sdaa.org/events.htm.

If you missed this event but wish to enjoy another night under the stars atop Mount Helix, you may wish to attend the HeART of Mount Helix on Saturday, August 12 from 5 p.m. to 1 0 p.m.  It’s a benefit for the Mount Helix Park Foundation featuring art demonstrations, an auction, live music, dancing, food tasting from local restaurants and libations.

General admission for the HeART of Mount Helix is $75, Member general admission is $60, and reserved table seats are $125. You can sponsor a 10 person table for $1,650.  Find more info on that here: https://www.mthelixpark.org/heart-of-mt-helix


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