Picture this: It's a steamy summer night to be sure, but you're sick of constantly sucking up air conditioning so you head out. You make your way to Forest Park — that's as good an outdoor space as any — and you notice a bunch of folks of all stripes hanging out in the archery field next to the James S. McDonnell Planetarium (Clayton and Faulkner drives; 314-289-4400 or What the — ? Oh, there are some telescopes out there, too, and these families and couples seem to be peering through these scopes at some mystic wonders in the night sky. You decide to park and find out exactly what is going on. Now, you, my friend, have just stumbled upon one of the Star Parties hosted by the St. Louis Astronomical Society ( from 7 to 10 p.m. on the first Friday of the month (through October). At each event volunteers set up their scopes and point them at various starry and planetary delights, and attendees get to see things in the universe that they wouldn't ordinarily get to see. Plus, inside the planetarium folks can check out "The Sky Tonight" program and more. All this for the awesome price of free! Aren't you glad you got out of the house tonight?
First Friday of every month. Starts: July 3. Continues through Oct. 2, 2009

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