A Party for the Stars?

Ariana Lopez, Contributing Writer

Whether through the morning announcements or word of mouth, many students have heard the term “Star Party,” but an underlying question remains: what exactly is a Star Party? Mr. Cappuccio, an astronomy and physics teacher who started teaching at the Hills fourteen years ago, initiated Star Parties seven years ago. According to Mr. Cappuccio, a Star Party goer is expected to “go out at night, sometimes in the morning, and take the telescope out to Gifford Field to look at stars, nebulae, or star clusters.” These parties usually take place once a month. Mr. Cappuccio explained that there are many factors that contribute to a successful Star Party. “It is a timing thing,” Mr. Cappuccio explained. There must be no after school activities going on and the weather also has to cooperate. The perfect weather for Star Parties is when it is not cloudy outside and not too cold. Mr. Cappuccio also has to take into consideration what he wants the students to see and what the sky is offering on certain nights.

Peya Yousuf, a junior at Morris Hills, attended a Star Party last March. When Peya’s friends invited her to go, she was hesitant but ended up enjoying her time. Peya found gazing at the stars through a telescope “intriguing.” She believes that Star Parties are, “something new that we should take more time to appreciate.” According to Mr. Cappuccio, the biggest problem with Star Parties is that “the best time to have a star party is in the winter because that is when the sky is the best.” Both Peya and Cappuccio advise to dress warm because it gets very cold at night. Cappuccio suggests that kids should “dress in layers. Wear sweatpants and put pants over the sweatpants. Wear two pairs of socks. Wear some gloves, a hat, and then put a hood over the hat. Wear a shirt, and sweatshirt, and then a jacket.”

Even though Star Party goers have to brave the elements, it can be worth it. At a Star Party last October at 5:45 a.m., Morris Hills students were able to see Venus, Jupiter, Mars, and Mercury all close together. Mr. Cappuccio explained that “in order to see Mercury, the sun has to be down. You could only can see it right before the sun goes up or when the sun goes down.” After a long wait and search for the planets, Mr. Cappuccio’s patience paid off. Students were able to see all four of the planets aligned. What a rare sight to see! These are the types of once-in-a-lifetime experiences that one can take advantage of when going to a Star Party. Mr. Cappuccio encourages students to come to the next Star Party “dressed warm. It will be worth it. The best sky is the winter sky.”