Astronomers from all over the midwest are hoping for clearer skies as they hold their 4th Annual Iowa Star Party at the Whiterock Conservancy southeast of Coon Rapids in Guthrie County.
Conservancy director Tolif Hunt says the central Iowa location is exactly what you’re looking for if you want to see the stars. Hunt says the conservancy land is thought to be one of the darkest places in Iowa and that brings all types of astronomers out to star gaze. Tolif says the designation as one of Iowa’s darkest spots may be subjective, but he says there are several things that make it dark. It’s halfway between Council Bluffs and Des Moines, which helps avoid “light pollution” and most of the surrounding area is agricultural land.
Hunt says the businesses that are near the conservancy, such as an ethanol plant, have helped by taking measures to hold down the light they put out. Hunt says they have an area where most of the viewing takes place called a star field and they’re working to keep it dark. Astronomers worked to design the fieled to minimize the light from things like campfires and cars driving by.
The star party events run through Sunday, and Hunt says everyone is invited to come and visit and share in the star gazing.