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Last month, UT co-hosted a stargazing party–the fourth annual Calhoun Stargaze–in Calhoun County, West Virginia.

According to the Parkersburg News and Sentinel, which featured the event, without the bright lights of an urban setting Calhoun Park off West Virginia 16 outside of Grantsville has one of the darkest night skies in the eastern United States. That makes it an ideal place to observe the movements of the celestial bodies in the Milky Way.

One of the events that took place over the weekend was a night-sky green laser tour, which gave local residents the opportunity to interact with astronomers and see planets and stars through world-class telescopes.

The stargazing party is part of an effort to spur economic development in distressed Appalachian communities. It is supported by the Appalachian Regional Commission and the West Virginia Development Office. Other project partners include UT, Calhoun County, the City of Grantsville, Fairmont State University and West Virginia University Extension.

Tim Ezzell, a research scientist in the UT Department of Political Science, spearheaded UT’s effort.