Celebrate the start of spring at one of the OMSI Star Parties, where star lovers of all ages can view the night sky through telescopes and talk to astronomy experts. (Photo credit: OMSI)

On March 20, the North and South poles reached equal distance from the sun. Day and night became the same length, marking the vernal equinox, the first day of spring.

Jim Todd, OMSI director of Space Science Education, says vernal means “green” and equinox means “equal night.” But, simply put, it’s good news for sun seekers. “We will then be halfway toward summer with the winter days soon behind us,” he says.

Todd coordinates OMSI Star Parties, where star lovers of all ages can view the night sky through telescopes and talk to astronomy experts. Star Parties will be held at Rooster Rock State Park (exit 25 off of I-84) and at L.L. Stub Stewart State Park (about 30 miles northwest of downtown Portland).

The events are a fun way for kids to learn about the spring night sky, constellations, planets, deep sky objects and more. Viewing highlights will include Jupiter and Saturn, a waxing gibbous moon, the Orion Nebula, Beehive Cluster and the possibility of seeing Comet PANSTARRS.

It’s almost as if Oregon was made for stargazing.

Save the dates: Head to Central Oregon for the Prineville Reservoir Star Party on May 20, 2017 for a free, family-friendly gathering with hikes, presentations and a guided tour of the night sky at one of Oregon’s best night sky locations. This year’s feature Oregon Star Party takes place August 17-22, 2017, during the once-in-a-lifetime total solar eclipse in the path of totality.

See Oregon stargazing in 360°.

about author Eileen Garvin

Eileen Garvin lives and writes in Hood River. When she’s not hunched over her keyboard or digging in the garden, you can find her mountain biking, kiteboarding, hiking, skiing or camping somewhere in Oregon.

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