Maurice Snook has a reputation in Athens as a man with an expertise for gazing into the dark abyss of space to view whatever celestial marvels might emerge — be it an eclipse or a comet.
A chemist by profession, his prowess on the astronomy stage has been fortified by his efforts to educate adults and children on the wonders of space.
Next Tuesday, Snook will close out the 2021 “Star Watch” season in Athens by hosting a planet-gazing adventure from 7-9 p.m. in Sandy Creek Park at 400 Bob Holman Road, Athens.
Now is a perfect time for viewing, Snook said recently as the fall and winter often create clearer night skies for stargazing.
The weather might be cool or cold, but “it’s not so bad outside, if you bundle up,” he said.
The event is free although there is the usual $2 park admission fee.
Snook expects to aim telescopes on what are often called the “gas giants" — the planets Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune.
Another treat this month is that Venus is in the evening sky and sparkling bright, reminding Snook of “the Christmas star.”
After the viewing of planets, Snook said he will give a short presentation on purchasing a telescope for Christmas.
The market is flooded with scopes, he noted.
“The problem is a lot of people will get these small refactor (scopes) and the kids will take a look through it. They are hard to aim and keep steady, so they are put away,” he said. “There are easier ones to use nowadays.”
In the mid-1950s when he was about 12, Snook received his first telescope.
“I still have that telescope,” the grounded spaceman said. “I use it as a finder scope on my bigger scope.”
This article originally appeared on Athens Banner-Herald: Astronomer hosting planet-gazing event at Sandy Creek Park in Athens