General News

Star Talk March 2023

By Astronomer Jim

March is one of the very best months of the year for bright stars constellations. Orion is plainly visible in the southwest and the bright constellations of Canis Major (the Big Dog), Canis Minor (the Little Dog), and Gemini (the twins) are also visible in the southern sky. Plus, we have some bright planets to observe! Here are details:

  • March 1: At dusk and in the southwest, Venus and Jupiter are a mere ½-degree apart! This will be their last close “conjunction” until 2027.
  • March 2: On the night of 2nd, the moon is situated between Castor and Pollux, the two brightest stars in the constellation of Gemini.
  • All month, you can see reddish-colored Mars shining above the constellation of Orion (see it on below star chart). In Roman mythology, Mars is the God of War and is from Mas that the month of March is named.
  • March 20th: Spring begins!
  • March 23 & 24: On the 23rd, the crescent moon is 5 degrees below Venus, and then on the night of the 24th, it is 5 degrees above Venus. That observation will be an easy way to see how the moon and planets can be seen as moving from one night to the next.
  • March 25th: The moon will be only 1½ degrees away from the Pleiades. How many of the “Seven sisters” can you see with just your eyes? If you use binoculars, you’ll be able to easily see all seven.
  • March 27th: We have a “planet line-up!” At dust, Mercury and Jupiter are on the western horizon, very close together (and very close to the horizon—only 3½ degrees above the horizon). The looking west, in order we then have bright Venus and Mars. Remember that except for the sun and moon, Venus is the brightest object in our skies.
  • March 29th: The moon has now completed a full circle about the earth and is again seen as being very close to the bright star of Pollux in Gemini.

Let’s spend some time exploring Orion. If you can use a pair of binoculars, you’ll be able to see everything that we’ll discuss. The ancients thought that Orion was a hunter that was sent into the sky to slay Taurus, the bull. Below are two photos of Orion, one shown with enhanced star colors. Here are 5 things to look for in Orion:

  1. Betelgeuse. Betelgeuse is giant red star, multiples larger in size than our sun. In recent years, it has been significantly changing brightness. Some scientist believe that it might someday explode causing a supernovae!
  2. Rigel. Is a very bright blue-white stars (which also means is a very hot star).
  3. The “belt” of Orion with the three stars in a row.
  4. The sword of Orion, dangling from his belt
  5. The faint glow in the middle of Orion’s sword (dangling from his belt) is the famous “The Great Nebula” or M42. Within this nebula, new stars are created—about every hundred million years! Below is closeup of M42.

Special Topic: Earthshine

We always think of the moon as being lit by the reflection of the sun’s light, and that is certainly mostly true. However, the moon is also lit by the earth! Some amount of the sun’s light is reflected from earth to the moon, and then again back to us. This is called “earthshine.” When you look at a crescent moon and see that crescent is bright, but the rest of the moon is still visible, although very dimly, that dim reflection is from earthshine.

Above photos are of crescent moons where the earthshine is visible. The schematic is shows sun ray’s reflecting from earth to the moon.

Star Chart for March

General News

Virtual Feast!

November 12 at 2:00 Pacific

Gather your family and friends for a FREE Cooking with Camp Blue Spruce class! This campfire themed event will take place on Saturday, November 12th at 2:00 PM Pacific Time and will include recipes and cooking demos from Your Allergy Chefs and ChefClusive, along with an individual ChefClusive cooking and activity kit!

Register by November 4th to receive your kit in time for the class! Each one includes: easy campfire recipes for indoor and outdoor camping, camping themed activity sheets, and a small set of silicone tongs.

Throughout the class you’ll gain valuable cooking skills such as knife skills, doneness indicators, and participate in two cooking demonstrations: Sloppy Joes with Creamy Coleslaw and S’mores dips for dessert! You’ll receive the recipes prior to the event so that you can come prepared to cook along with our chefs. You can also watch the demo and recreate it with your family and friends later! Either way, you’re bound to have a blast building community with Camp Blue Spruce and gaining confidence in the kitchen!

This project was made possible by a community outreach award from FARE.

General News

Star Talk for September 2022

By Astronomer Jim Higgs

Astronomer Jim Higgs was our special guest at Camp Blue Spruce this summer! As pictured below, he led a rocketry and propulsion interest group, he also brought in meteorites and minerals for campers to view. Campers and staff viewed a full moon as well as Saturn and its rings with a telescope at the star viewing party that he and his friends from Rose City Astronomers hosted. 

In The Evening Sky:

• As you can see from the below star chart, the Milky Way will be overhead, roughly arching from the southwest to the northeastern sky. The Milky Way is dim, seen best in a dark sky, but it is only observable as a faint glow. It is comprised of more stars than can be counted! By looking at the Milky Way, we are looking at our galaxy from the edge (where we live) in toward our galaxy’s center. The Milky Way is huge, comprised of about 250 billion stars. It’s length is about 100,000 light years (each light year is 6 trillion miles). All the stars that we can see all reside in the Milky Way—the stars that are in other galaxies are too dim and far away for us to see individually! Yet, with giant telescopes, we know that there hundreds of billions of other galaxies, and many of those are much bigger than the Milky Way!
• The summer triangle, visible last month, is still in the sky. At the “top” of the triangle and nearly straight up is the star Vega, a very bright star in the constellation of Lyra; Lyra is shaped like a rhombus (see the below chart). To the left (east) of Vega you’ll see Deneb, the brightest star in Cygnus. And the third star of the triangle, below the other two, is Altair, the brightest star in Aquila the Eagle.
• Saturn will be yellow-ish and bright, nearly directly due south. In a small telescope you can see the rings!
• This month Jupiter rises about sunset and will be spectacular. On the 26th , Jupiter will be in “opposition,” which means that Earth will be almost exactly between Jupiter and the sun. As a result, Jupiter will appear particularly “big” (through a telescope or even binoculars) and will be very bright. With binoculars and a very steady hand, you may be able to see as many as four of Jupiter’s moons!
• On the 7th, Saturn and the moon appeared very close.
• On the 9th, the moon was half-way between Saturn and Jupiter, making for a very bright trio!
• On the 15th, the Pleiades (a bright star cluster) rose late in the night, followed by the moon, and then followed by Mars.
• On the 30th, the moon will be only 1.5 degrees above Antares, the giant red star in the constellation of Scorpius!

In The Morning Sky:

• Venus will be the bright morning star, but is now once again getting closer to the sun.
• Mars will also be in the early morning sky.

General News

Come to Our Anniversary Party!

We’re celebrating 10 YEARS of providing fun for youth and teens living with food allergies! Please join us as we thank YOU, and all of our Camp Blue Spruce family, for helping us reach this milestone.

If you are one of our generous donors, passionate volunteers, product sponsor, or former camper family or camp counselor, this evening is meant to celebrate you as the guest of honor.

This is a great opportunity to reconnect with friends from the past or find new ones in the food allergy community.

Tickets are $25/person and include a delicious top-9 allergen free catered dinner, games and activities, free kayaks, pedal boards, SUPS, and a large float mat. In the evening, be ready for fun around a “campfire,” with memories from the past ten years, camp songs, raffle ticket prizes, and more!

We can’t wait to bring the community together and celebrate!

  • Saturday, October 1, 2022 from 3 – 8 pm
  • Willamette Park, 1100 12th St., West Linn, OR
  • Games, activities, arts & crafts
  • A delicious top-9 free, catered dinner is included in the ticket price! (free of: dairy, eggs, tree nuts, peanuts, fish, shellfish, soy, wheat/all gluten and sesame.)
  • Paddle Linn will be onsite providing FREE kayaks, pedalboards, SUPS,and a large float mat. Life jackets are provided.
  • “Campfire” presentation, including memories from the past ten years, raffle ticket prizes, camp songs, and more!
  • Tickets are $25/person and include dinner and all the activities
  • Questions?


Help Make the Party a BLAST!

WE NEED YOU! Check out the volunteer sign up form for lots of small, but important, ways you can help make our 10th Anniversary Party a blast.

From donating a raffle prize to helping keep the Giant Jenga game stacked- there’s something for everyone.

The best part is that you can still enjoy the event while contributing to Camp Blue Spruce.

General News

Star Talk for August 2022

By Astronomer Jim Higgs

The big deal in the sky for the month of August is the Perseid meteor shower! And it’s maximum typically occurs the night of August 11th every year. Meteors are best seen after midnight, but for Blue Spruce Campers on August 11th, we saw an occasional bright meteor that night! There have been a few meteors at camp this year.

In The Evening Sky:

  • All month, the “Summer Triangle” of three bright stars will be clearly visible in the southern sky. Vega is near “the top” (the zenith) of the sky and is the most brilliant. Off to the left will be the bright star Deneb and the most southern is the bright star Altair. You can find all three on the below star chart.
  • Anchored by bright Vega, we have the constellation Lyra, shaped like a rhombus. Can you find Lyra? See the below photo and star chart. Between the two stars in the bottom of Lyra’s rhombus is the “Ring Nebula.” Hopefully, we’ll be able to see the dim ring nebula with telescopes at Blue Spruce, but the bright moon may prevent that. 
  • One of the fun “binary stars” to see in the sky is Albireo, in the constellation of Cygnus. Albireo looks like a very normal, not very bright star with a naked eye. But through a telescope, you can see that Albireo is really two stars, one that is yellow and the other one is blue!

In The Morning Sky:

  • Throughout the month, Venus is still the brightest non-moon object in the sky, serving as the “morning star.”
  • On August 15th, the waning (decreasing in phase size) moon was very close to brilliant Jupiter in the morning sky.

Star Chart for August, from Orion Telescopes website: