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Romance Under the Stars

by AMNH on

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Astronomer Ted Williams will lead a romantic tour of the night sky as part of Romance Under the Stars, a special Valentine‚Äôs Day program that begins with a cocktail hour and concludes with the tour in the Hayden Planetarium. Williams recently answered a few questions about winter stargazing and shared his favorite constellation story.

Can you share a few tips for stargazing in February?

Although the nights are cold, sometimes the air can be the steadiest. February offers up some of the brightest stars of the year. A good variety of colors can be seen in those bright stars, even in the skies above New York. Due to the colder weather, consider looking at the winter sky with binoculars. You can easily pick out a few brighter star clusters in the winter sky with the assistance of low power binoculars.

What is unique about the February night sky?

The winter hexagon stands out most. It is a hexagonal shape made up of six stars, all of which are bright enough to allow the human eye to see their color. The color of a star indicates its surface temperature.

Each of the six stars [in the hexagon] belongs to a different constellation, giving those living in New York a guide to finding those constellations. Binoculars will pick out the rest of the main stars of each of the six constellations, but that bright guiding star will help observers to easily locate where to look.

At the event, you will be sharing romance stories that relate to the stars. Do you have a favorite story?

At Romance Under the Stars, I will tell a mythology story with a romantic theme from each group of constellations in the night sky. One will be from the Zodiac constellations, one from the early evening sky, one that is circumpolar, and so on. We will even take a trip down to the Southern Hemisphere to look at what some feel are the most romantic sights, including the Southern Cross and the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds.

My favorite story is the one about Eros and Psyche. It tells of how love can only live where there is trust. It is a unique tale about what happens to love when trust is lost.