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Sheepscot Stargazing (and Lunar Viewing) Special

Explore the night sky at a Central Maine Astronomical Society star party!

Quick Details

Adult Ages 13+
Youth Ages 4-12
Child Ages 0-3

Board your train at Sheepscot station (97 Cross Road, Alna) for a ride through the wild pine forests, farmlands and hamlets of the Sheepscot Valley to Alna Center where a star party (or special lunar viewing session) awaits.

We’ve invited the Central Maine Astronomical Society to set up their telescopes in the unspoiled and light-free field at Alna Center. Due to its rural location, Alna’s skies don’t suffer from the light pollution found in Augusta or other cities in Maine. Passengers will be able to gaze upon the same spectacular nighttime sights as travelers have for centuries.

Spring Session: Lunar Viewing
For April 20, 2024, we’ll be focusing portable telescopes on the closest celestial body to Earth: the Moon and its unique craters and characteristics. This special Lunar Viewing party will also include a demonstration on how to properly set up small portable telescopes. Participants are welcome to bring their own telescopes for evaluation and tips prior to the start of the event. Event time: 7:00pm.

NOTE: Due to the weather, the format for April 20, 2024 has been changed: Everyone is encouraged to bring your own home telescopes and binoculars for a special lecture by the Central Maine Astronomical Society’s volunteers on their proper set up and use. They’ll also be bringing their own scopes for inspections and questions. This program will begin inside the Fredrick & Sharron Morse Engine House at the museum at 7pm. Following the presentation, we’ll gather on the train for a special night trip along the railway. If by some miracle the sky is clear enough, we’ll make a stop at the secluded field of Alna Center for lunar viewing.

Fall Session: Stargazing
On October 26, 2024 the high-power telescopes of CMAS volunteers will be back. As in past Stargazing sessions, objects that we may be able to observe include: Saturn, Jupiter, and/or other planets and moons, globular star clusters (like the Great Globular Cluster in Hercules), galaxies (such as Andromeda Galaxy), and various other Messier objects (like the Ring Nebula). Train departure time: 6:00pm.

Please see the important information regarding weather and cancellations. Note that the Central Maine Astronomical Society may decide not to hold the stargazing session up to 6 hours before the event.

Ticket price includes the diesel train ride, a red flashlight, and admission to the Central Maine Astronomical Society star party. This event is not recommended for those with mobility issues, and pets are not permitted.

The Sheepscot Stargazing Special departs Sheepscot station (97 Cross Road, Alna) promptly at the scheduled departure time, and returns approximately 2.5 hours later.

We look forward to seeing you on the narrow gauge!

Star Party (and Lunar Viewing) Protocol

Passengers on the Sheepscot Stargazing Special are asked to only use red flashlights (no white lights or cell phones), take no flash photography, ask before touching a telescope, wear warm clothing, and please leave all pets at home. Red flashlights will be provided to passengers, but please turn them off while riding the train (red always indicates a “stop” signal on a railroad!) Bring your questions to ask the astronomers from the Central Maine Astronomical Society, who will be happy to describe what you will see and some of the science behind it.

The Central Maine Astronomical Society

The Central Maine Astronomical Society, based in Whitefield, is an amateur astronomy club serving the Central and Midcoast regions of Maine. Through monthly public star parties, they work to educate the public on astronomy and preserving dark skies. CMAS also maintains a library of books and telescopes that are available for loan.

Weather and Cancellations

If poor stargazing conditions or inclement weather are predicted, this event will be cancelled; participants will be notified and provided with a full refund. The decision to hold the stargazing session is at the sole discretion of the Central Maine Astronomical Society and will be finalized approximately 6 hours prior to departure. All ticketholders will be notified via email if the stargazing session will not be occurring.

Passes, Vouchers and Discounts

We will be pleased to honor passes redeemed as the base portion of the train fare on the Sheepscot Stargazing Special. Upon checkout, please select the appropriate discount for a Lifetime Pass, an Annual Pass, Alna Resident, or similar pass.