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SCOUT KEY (CBSMiami) — Hundreds of professional and amateur astronomers are aiming their telescopes on southern constellations, stars, planets and even the International Space Station in the lower Florida Keys.

The 29th Winter Star Party kicked off Monday and has attracted almost 500 stargazing participants and guest speakers, including Michael Menzel, NASA mission systems engineer for the in-development James Webb Space Telescope.

The star party is taking place at Camp Wesumkee, a Girl Scout camp just off U.S. Highway 1 on Scout Key, formerly known as West Summerland Key and situated just west of the Seven Mile Bridge.

Event founder Tippy D’Auria said the Florida Keys are one of the few places in the contiguous United States where the Southern Cross and other celestial objects can be seen. The southern location, clear night skies and many available viewing locations without bright city lights help create optimal viewing conditions.

The star party ends Feb. 10 and is coordinated by the Southern Cross Astronomical Society, founded in 1922 and one of America’s oldest amateur astronomical societies.



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