Tahoe Star Tours will offer ’Astrobiology’-themed experience this summer | SierraSun.com

Tahoe Star Tours will offer ’Astrobiology’-themed experience this summer

Adding new tools for viewing the dark skies above North Lake Tahoe, Tahoe Star Tours introduces new binocular tours into its cosmic stargazing experience in 2021.
Photo courtesy of Tahoe Star Tours

Tahoe Star Tours invites those visiting North Lake Tahoe and Truckee to view the brilliant skies above during docent-led evenings Thursdays and Saturdays from June 17 through Sept. 4. New this year, in addition to stargazing through computerized Celestron telescopes, guests can join in for a binocular tour using a pair of Celestron binoculars. This element of the tour begins with instruction on using binoculars for stargazing led by one of the Cosmoarium Star Guides, and includes use of the binoculars until the event ends.

Led by amateur astronomer and poet Tony Berendsen, past president of the Northern Nevada Science Coalition, each tour of the night sky includes a lively science-based talk about the cosmos and telescopic view of the constellations through high-powered, professional Celestron telescopes. The telescopes use leading edge computerized technology for accurate pointing and tracking, with advanced optics for sharp, crisp views of distant celestial objects like galaxies and nebulae. Telescope operators will guide guests through the wonders of the Cosmos including examples of stars in different stages of evolution.

“The theme of our events this year will be ‘Astrobiology: Is there other life out there in the cosmos’,” said Berendsen. “We don’t know the answer to that question yet, but scientists and engineers are finding new ways to search for possible life within the Solar System and beyond. During the 2021 Cosmoarium season our guests will learn about these new efforts, and get a telescopic peek at candidate stars with exoplanets.”

Officially a “bronze” level dark skies park as measured by the International Dark-Sky Association, the Cosmoarium at Northstar California is located near the entrance to the resort on the upper level of the Castle Peak parking area. Offering convenient access for both guests staying at or visiting the resort, the site features wide, unobstructed horizons for viewing. Participants also have access to amenities including comfortable seating, fire pits, outdoor heaters, bathrooms, complimentary bottled water and convenient, free on-site parking just a short walk from the viewing area, and are invited to bring their own snacks.

Tahoe Star Tours events are $45 for adults ($55 for the binocular tour; open to the first 10 adults who reserve at each event), and $25 for children ages 12 and under (age 4 and under are free). Tours begin at 8:15 p.m. and conclude at 10:30 p.m. Gift cards are available, and discounts are offered to active duty military and Epic Pass holders. Well behaved, leashed dogs are welcome.

Berendsen has produced astronomy events in the Lake Tahoe region for 20 years. His style of mixing science and art has been featured in publications including The New York Times and Conde Nast Traveler.

Advance reservations for all Tahoe Star Tours events are recommended, and all tours are offered weather and conditions permitting. All events will have COVID-19 health and safety procedures in place, with guests and employees of Tahoe Star Tours required to wear face coverings and practice social distancing. Hand sanitizer and masks will be available, and guests are encouraged to say home if feeling sick or symptomatic.

Tahoe Star Tours also offers private group events by reservation. Learn more at http://www.tahoestartours.com and make stargazing event reservations on Eventbrite.

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