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Star buffs scour battlefield sky

April 08, 2000|By DAN KULIN /Staff Writer

ANTIETAM NATIONAL BATTLEFIELD - Dozens of people showed up for a party with the stars at Antietam National Battlefield on Friday night.

There was no Julia Roberts, Michael Jordan or Tom Cruise, but the night sky offered plenty for stargazers to look at, including the moon, Jupiter, Saturn and Mars.

The Tri-State Astronomers have been hosting the star parties since 1986, the last time Halley's Comet passed by Earth, said Jim Taylor, the group's past president.

Taylor said the group hosts the parties once or twice a year to show people what is involved in astronomy.

"When I was a kid, I'd lie in the grass in the summer and look at the stars," Taylor said. "There's an awful lot of stuff out there."

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Local astronomers set up their telescopes near the visitor's center at the battlefield because there aren't many lights around, making it easier to see the stars.

Taylor, 74, of Falling Waters, W.Va., uses a 20-year-old Newtonian telescope, which can magnify objects 22 times.

If it doesn't rain, the group will be at the battlefield again tonight, from approximately 7:30 until midnight. The party is free and open to the public.

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