RAYMOND – The night sky will be the main attraction but not the only entertainment on Sept. 21 at the Branched Oak Observatory’s “Star BQ.”
Michael Sibbernsen, a lecturer of astronomy and physics at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and chief executive officer of Branched Oak Observatory, said that the event will have fun for all ages from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.
The observatory is located at 14300 NW 98th Street in Raymond. There is no charge for admission to the observatory’s fifth annual event thanks to sponsorship from Security First Bank.
At 6 p.m. the 501st Legion’s Central Garrison will join the party.
The 501st are an all-volunteer international Star Wars costuming club. The Central Garrison is the club’s charter in the Great Plains area, doing events in Minnesota, North Dakota, Iowa, South Dakota and Nebraska this year.
After you pass a search from the 501st for any rebel droids, there are plenty of other activities on hand.
If you arrive while the sun is still in the sky, the observatory will allow for safe solar viewing.
According to Sibbernsen, there will be UNL students performing several science demonstrations on the grounds.
There will also be a chance to imagine bouncing around on the lunar surface on the observatory’s giant moon map.
In the past, the Star BQ has had food catered. This year there will be three food trucks providing a variety of cuisine.
Cajun Sneaux and Snax, Mary Ellen’s Food for the Soul and the Tastee Trailer will be on hand to feed those looking to eat.
There will also be raffle tickets on sale throughout the evening. The raffle is a fundraising effort by the observatory and will feature a number of telescopes and binoculars as well as other prizes.
As the sun begins to set and twilight sets in, the observatory will hold two live programs, one in the classroom and one projected on the wall of the observatory.
Once the sun goes down and the night sky fills with stars, the observatory will present a number of opportunities to observe planets and deep space objects.
The observatory has a number of its own telescopes that it will provide and there will also be several astronomy clubs who will be supplying telescopes and guidance for novices.
It is an experience that Sibbernsen said would make it worth the trip to Raymond.
“I think that’s the greatest enticement of them all, a chance to see this beautiful universe that we live in,” Sibbernsen said.