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This event has many bright spots.

Mark Freilich, who was a long-time Adjunct Astronomy Professor at Queens College, will lead Stargazing Wonders at the Alley Pond Environmental Center on Saturday, Jan. 20, at 7 p.m. Tickets are $16, and the program is open to anybody age 9 and older.

Freilich, who has been holding frequent astronomy sessions at the Douglaston nonprofit for more than 20 years, will begin by facilitating a crash course/Q&A session indoors at the main facility. Then, participants will head outside to check out the night sky with maps, brochures, and a professional telescope. (They can also bring their own devices, such as binoculars.)

In January, Orion rules the Northern Hemisphere’s firmament with the constellation’s two giant stars Rigel, the brightest, and Betelgeuse, the second brightest. The Orion Nebula, which is the birthplace of stars, should be visible as well.

Astronomers have predicted that Betelgeuse, which is orange-red and shrinking, will eventually crash into a cosmic wall of interstellar dust or explode into a supernova…but not for a few thousand years. Rigel, which is blue-white, gets its name from the Arabic term for “left leg” or “the foot of the great one.” It is one of the most important navigation stars as it is visible all around the world’s oceans, except for some spots near the North Pole.

Participants can also expect to see the winter triangle of stars and the beautiful star cluster Pleiades, which is also known as “Seven Sisters.” (In Greek mythology, that would be Atlas and Pleione’s daughters Alcyone, Celaeno, Electra, Maia, Merope, Sterope, and Taygeta.) The moon will shine in its crescent phase as well, and Sirius, the Big Dipper, and Polaris are also in play.

Located at 228-06 Northern Blvd., the Alley Pond Environment Center is dedicated to educating individuals about the environment, protecting and preserving the nearby 655-acre Alley Pond Park, and advocating for sustainable environmental policies and practices.

Images: Alley Pond Environmental Center

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