WOODWARD, Okla. — Oklahoma has a well-kept secret treasure.
"It is so much fun to share what is in the sky," said spokeswoman for the Star Creek Astronomical Society Bobbette Doerrie. "Northwest Oklahoma has a treasure and that is the dark sky. You just look up and you see a sky that very few people in the United States get to see, because there is just too much light pollution," she said.
So every year the Star Creek Astronomical Society gets together and offers a rare chance for anyone to attend what is called a Star Party. This year the event takes place Saturday starting around 9 p.m. at the Selman Living Laboratory.
On Saturday at 1 p.m. the public is also invited to start their day early by participating in The Selman Laboratory Citizen's Science Day event. This event offers anyone who wants to a chance to learn about the animals and plant life of the prairie from scientists in an active, natural setting.
Many who attend that event remain for the Star Party, Doerrie said.
A Star Party is when many come together to view the night sky through large telescopes located at the Selman Observatory. The key is, they get to do this with local experts in attendance so that questions can be answered and novice star gazers can be helped to find some of the most "wonderful things of the sky," as Doerrie likes to refer to all things heavenly.
According to Doerrie, it is a good time for people from the area to take off a couple of evening hours and get away from some of the stress after recent disasters, the ice storm in January and the recent wild fires, and experience the gift that is the night sky here.
And this year there is a little something extra for those who want to get their a little early, around 8 p.m., Doerrie said.
"On August 21st there will be a solar eclipse and so on Saturday in the Observatory, I will be giving a demonstration of what it will look like," Doerrie said.
According to Doerrie, it will be 2034 before anything like the solar eclipse predicted to take place in August this year, will happen again. How ever the solar eclipse will not be viewable in Oklahoma.
"It is one of the big excitements this year," she said. "You have to go up to Kansas City or Iowa or Nebraska and people will travel to see this because It is rare thing. It's pretty exciting and so there will be people driving to see it. It will cross the country from Oregon down to Yellowstone, Jackson Hole, across Kansas City and Omaha Neb."
A solar eclipse is when the moon lines up exactly between the sun and the earth and for a minute or two, covers the sun entirely.
" Literally when the moon passes in front of the sun, it gets dark, the birds go to settle in trees as if it is night and the temperature drops," Doerrie said. "It's only a minute and a half or two minutes of totality, but it is pretty exciting."
The last event like this one was 7 years ago. But Doerrie said that one was not as complete an eclipse as this one will be.
"You could still see the fire ring around the moon," she said.
On Saturday, in the eastern observatory, where she can make it dark, Doerrie will offer a demonstration of the event. But she encourages those who can travel to one of the viewing cities to do so.
At 9 p.m. to 9:30, the Star Party will begin, with viewing of the Oklahoma night sky.
Doerrie encourages people to park with headlights facing away from the observatory. She also reminds people to wear a jacket and sturdy shoes. This is not the time for high heels.
"We are on the top of a hill and we have had people to really need to borrow our blankets," Doerrie said. "And we have red plastic to go over cell phones or flashlights so that we don't lose our night vision."