Heavens Above! Star Gazing is a Thrill for All

They are seeing stars in Western Connecticut—not to mention planets and galaxies. The opportunity to view the heavens close up though a professional telescope is a rare treat, and Fairfield County in Western Connecticut is lucky enough to have four observatories that invite the public to share the thrill of star-gazing. Experts are on hand to guide beginners and viewing should be prime on the clear autumn nights ahead.

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The Stamford Observatory

The Stamford Observatory at the Stamford Museum and Nature Center, a research facility used by members of the Fairfield County Astronomical Society, is open to all every Friday night from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m., weather permitting. The Observatory’s 22-inch research telescope is better than ever, thanks to recent updating with state of the art high precision components. When visitors spot the moon, planets or deep space objects, computer controls automatically prompt the telescope to zoom in on the object.

On specially scheduled Astronomy Nights, informative talks on the planets and galaxies are presented before the viewing hours. These lively programs are suitable for children ages 5 and up as well as for adults.
The Observatory is located behind the Hecksher Farm off Scofieldtown Road. Viewers enter at 151 Scofieldtown Road. Admission is $5 for adults, $3 for children. For more information, see http://www.stamfordmuseum.org/observatory.html or phone 203-322-1646.

Rolnick Observatory, Westport

The Westport Astronomical Society has its own long-running program for visitors. The domed Rolnick Observatory houses a 12.5-inch Newtonian telescope. On a moonless night when visibility is prime, the portable 25-inch Obsession telescope, the largest available to the public in Connecticut, is brought outdoors. The program at 182 Bayberry Lane is free to the public every clear Wednesday from 8 to 10 p.m. See details at was-ct.org, or phone 203-293-8759.

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Westside Observatory, Danbury

Westside Observatory, located atop a five-acre hill on the Westside Campus of Western Connecticut State University, is dedicated to astrophysical research by students and faculty. The observatory’s 20-inch Ritchey-Chrétien reflector telescope is equipped with a computer-controlled pointing and tracking system as well as a powerful CCD camera that takes multi-color digital images of planets, faint stars and other deep-sky objects. The University also has its own planetarium. Free public viewing nights are scheduled regularly depending on weather conditions, but planetarium shows go on rain or shine. The one-hour shows are not recommended for younger children. Schedules are posted at https://www.wcsu.edu/starwatch.

Bowman Observatory, Greenwich

A new 16-inch telescope is being installed by the Astronomical Society of Greenwich at the Bowman Observatory, with the reopening scheduled for sometime this fall. Check the website, seocom.com/asg or phone 203-413-6762 for exact fall viewing dates, usually the second and fourth Tuesdays each month.

Kent Antique Machinery Fall Festival in Litchfield Hills

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This year marks the 30th annual Fall Festival hosted by the Connecticut Antique Machinery Association, www.ctamachinery.com on 31 Kent Cornwall Rd. in Kent on September 26, 27 and 28 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. This event features special demonstrations, vendors and food along with the many permanent exhibits of the Association that includes Industrial Hall, a mining museum, a tractor hall, a narrow gage working railroad and the Cream Hill Agricultural School.

Highlights of this event include an American #1 sawmill with plenty of logs to be cut into planks. There will be demonstrations throughout the weekend of the sawmill, as well as other wood handling machinery including an antique planer, a splitter, and maybe even a drag saw.

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Another popular spot is the blacksmith’s shop headed up by Skip Kern who will be showing visitors the art of blacksmithing. In the Industrial Hall of Steam, Conrad Milster will be giving talks and live demonstrations of various antique steam engines. The Association hopes to see their Nagle-Corliss engine in operation for this show. A highlight in Industrial Hall is the Associations newest acquisition, a very early (possibly Ames) engine, on loan from the New York Hall of Science.

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Lumber Jack/Jill demonstrations on Saturday and Sunday of the Festival, featuring Shannon Strong, a well-known local fitness trainer are certain crowd pleasers. The show will feature demonstrations of handsaw and ax skills. Demonstration times will be announced at the show.

In the Industrial Hall of Steam, Conrad Milster will be giving talks and live demonstrations of the Association’s various antique steam engines. The Association hopes to see their Nagle-Corliss engine in operation for this show. Visitors will also see the Association’s newest acquisition, a very early (possibly Ames) engine, that came to them in beautiful condition, on loan from the New York Hall of Science.

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Don’t miss the Friday evening spaghetti w/meatballs and sausage. There’s a limited number of tickets available, so buy them in advance at the food pavilion. The dinner is from 5:30 to 7:00 PM and will be held at the picnic pavilion unless inclement weather forces it inside the Industrial Hall. Tickets are $10 per person. Menu includes spaghetti with meatballs and sausage, salad, Italian bread, soft drinks, coffee and dessert. All proceeds benefit the Connecticut Antique Machinery Association.

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Parking is free in the lower parking field and a free shuttle bus will bring you to the main gate.

For more information http://www.ctamachinery.com and for area information www.litchfieldhills.com

Fall Fun at the New Canaan Historical Society

The New Canaan Historical Society located on 13 Oenoke Ridge in New Canaan has planned several exciting events to enjoy this fall. A new art show, “Commitment to Excellence in Art & Sport: A Fine Art Competition” and Exhibit is taking place through November 3 has been organized cooperatively with the National Art Museum of Sport. This is the Museum of Sport’s 4th annual international show. The National Art Museum of Sport was founded in 1959 by Germain Glidden, a Silvermine painter and athlete.

Pictured is Richard Stravitz's V Seat which was inspired by the flexibility, strength, and balance that helped Kurt Thomas excel in the world of gymnastics during the late 1970s.

Pictured is Richard Stravitz’s V Seat which was inspired by the flexibility, strength, and balance that helped Kurt Thomas excel in the world of gymnastics during the late 1970s.

The Little Red Schoolhouse built in 1868 located on Carter Street is the site of the Rotary Club’s annual Lobsterfest on September 26 & 27 that will take place on the Society’s great lawn. Tickets for this event are available in the Historical Society’s office. A special treat on September 27 is the open house at the Little Red School House from 1 p.m. – 3 p.m. The school closed in 1957.

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To celebrate 125 years, the New Canaan Historical Society is hosting a special “Colonial Day” on Saturday, October 11 (rain date Oct. 12) from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. This colonial themed premiere event will start off with a fife and drum performance and will be followed by militia drills and games. Take time to explore the general store and watch demonstrations of weaving, spinning, printing, and early learning. Make sure to pay a visit to the herb garden and follow it with a visit to the Cody Drug Store where many medicinal herbs will be on display.

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About the New Canaan Historical Society

Founded in 1889, the New Canaan Historical Society has carried out its mission “to bring together and arrange the historical events of the town of New Canaan, the genealogies of the families who have lived in the town, to form a library and to collect relics and curiosities, to form a museum.

At the Society’s headquarters, in the 1825 Town House, the Society maintains a research library of more than 3,500 volumes, along with scores of manuscripts, deeds, newspapers, photographs and other documents dating to the colonial era.

The Society owns or operates eight museums and buildings, including the 1764 Hanford-Silliman House, the 1960 Gores Pavilion, and the Rogers Studio and Museum, which, with Philip Johnson’s Glass House, is one of only two National Historic Landmarks in New Canaan. For more information http://www.nchistory.org.

Seventh Annual Old Fashioned Flea Market at Lockwood Mathews Mansion

For anyone who loves to hunt for treasures, repurposed furniture, decorative accessories, and curiosities of all kinds, the Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Museum’s Old Fashioned Flea Market is the place to be. The event, will take place on Sunday, September 21,2014, 10 a.m. -5 p.m. at 295 West Avenue in Norwalk, CT, in Mathews Park.

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Whether you enjoy bargains, face-painting, or a stroll down memory lane, this is such an enjoyable event as it offers something to everyone. The highlight of this event is than 80 vendors that will offer a variety of items from new, and used, to vintage. Treasures for sale include an interesting assortment of antiques, furniture, collectibles, jewelry, household items, clothing, and toys. The adventure of this event is that you never know what you will find!

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Another highlight of this event is the classic and antique car show that is sure to delight the car buffs in the group. Shop while listening to swing and jazz music performed by the popular Bob Button Big Band that will perform from 12p.m. -1 p.m. Afterward, students from The Pop Music Academy, located in Stamford will delight the audience with contemporary music from 2:30-3:30 p.m. A flea market favorite is the all-American BBQ courtesy of Stew Leonard’s and Michael Gilmartin’s Outdoor Cookers Catering & Event Planning.

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The Museum will also be open for mini-tours from 12 noon to 4 p.m.. Visitors will be invited to walk throughout the Museum’s period rooms on the first floor and view an iconic Victorian era mansion for only $5.
The Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Museum is a National Historic Landmark. For more information on schedules and programs please visit www.lockwoodmathewsmansion.com, e-mail info@lockwoodmathewsmansion.com, or call 203-838-9799.

About the Flea Market

Proceeds will benefit the Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Museum. The Museum has donated several booths to area nonprofits who will share their message and mission with attendees.

The Museum’s 2014 Old Fashioned Flea Market is made possible in part by generous support from: Fairfield County Bank, King Industries, Inc. and City Carting. The Museum’s 2014 cultural and educational programs are made possible in part by generous funding from LMMM’s Founding Patrons: The Estate of Mrs. Cynthia Clark Brown; The Museum’s Distinguished Benefactors: Klaff’s, The Xerox Foundation, and The Maurice Goodman Foundation; LMMM Sustainers: Spinnaker Real Estate Partners.

INTRIGUE IS AFOOT AS LITCHFIELD, CT
CELEBRATES SPY WEEKEND

The serene and beautiful village green in Litchfield, Connecticut hardly seems the setting for spies and intrigue. But during the Revolutionary War, this classic New England town in Western Connecticut was a hotbed of activity. This surprising history will come to life during the Litchfield History Museum’s Spy Weekend, September 19 to 21.

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The special activities are added reason to discover Litchfield, a town also noted for its early architecture, Colonial inns, fine dining and great shopping.

The fun begins on Friday night when a showing of the film, The Scarlet Coat, a 1955 swashbuckling historical drama starring Michael Wilding, Cornel Wilde, and George Saunders. The movie tells of the creation of the first “American Secret Service,” with Litchfield’s own Benjamin Tallmadge in the main role (though Hollywood has changed his name). The film will be shown at 7 p.m. at the Litchfield Community Center. Admission is free and popcorn will be served!

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Author Richard Welch will discuss his new book on Benjamin Tallmadge, “General Washington’s Commando.” on Sunday at 3 p.m. Welch will describe Tallmadge’s roles during the Revolutionary War, including his work as intelligence and counter-intelligence officer, as well as dragoon commander and master of combined land-sea operations. The program is free for members; $5 for non-members.

A guided walking tour on Saturday at 10 a.m. will relive Litchfield during the Revolution, when families were divided by those loyal to the British crown and those seeking independence and intrigue were in the air. Guides will point out historic sites where prisoners of war were jailed, and where a military presence guarded stores and provisions. The tour is free to members, $10 for non-members. Registration is required for the Saturday and Sunday programs, by email at registration@litchfieldhistoricalsociety.org or by phone at
860-567-4501.

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On Sunday afternoon, there will be an added bonus as the Litchfield Fire Company hosts the 131st annual state Firefighter’s Convention ending with a parade featuring over 1,000 firefighters from all over Connecticut.

For information about lodging, dining and other activities in the area and a free copy of UNWIND, a full-color, 163-page booklet detailing what to do and see, and where to stay, shop and dine in Fairfield County and the Litchfield Hills of Western Connecticut, contact the Western Connecticut Visitors Bureau, PO Box 968, Litchfield, CT 06759, (860) 567-4506, or visit www.litchfieldhills.com

WWI Posters on View at the Litchfield Historical Society

The exhibit Join the Brave Throng: Poster Art of WWI at the Litchfield Historical Society will highlight a selection of WWI posters from the Museum’s collection. It will be on view through November 30, 2014.

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When the Great War broke out in Europe in 1914, the town of Litchfield was actively involved in war efforts from the start. Ranging from work of the local Red Cross chapter to the collection of medical supplies, Liberty Loan campaigns, food conservation efforts, and enlistment of local soldiers, the residents of Litchfield did whatever they could to show their patriotic zeal.

To rouse the public’s interest in the war, colorful posters dotted walls and billboards across the county. Designed by some of the nation’s most talented artists, these propaganda items appealed to the public’s patriotic side, while others incorporated shocking anti-German imagery.

Come see some of the posters that ignited Litchfield residents to actively support the national war effort. The Litchfield History Museum’s hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 11:00 am to 5:00 pm, and Sunday, 1:00 to 5:00 pm. Litchfield History Museum is located at 7 South St., Litchfield, CT. For more information about this or other programs, please visit www.litchfieldhistoricalsociety.org or call (860) 567-4501.

PJ Party and Story Time at Stepping Stones Museum for Children… with the Bears!

The life size Berenstain Bears will be the highlight at the Pajama Party hosted on Friday, Sept. 12 from 6 p.m. – 8 p.m. at the Stepping Stones Museum for Children in Norwalk located on 303 West Ave. So put on your most furry or comfy pajamas, perfect for hibernating like a bear (!), and head over to the Museum!

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Stepping Stones is excited to bring this classic, lovable Bear Family who recently celebrated their 50th anniversary to their museum. Participants will hear the tale “The Berenstain Bears Go To School.” In the story, Sister Bear, nervous about entering kindergarten, overcomes her fears when she discovers that school is really fun.

After the story, kids will have the opportunity to meet Brother and Sister Bear! The museum’s friends at Berenstain Bears describes these two lovable characters:

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Sister Bear is a highly-competitive, born-to-win, self-reliant third-grader, who is often braver than she imagines. She loves acting, her Bearbie dolls and the color pink. Sister is very outdoorsy and sports-minded, but she also loves fairytales, writing and jump rope

Brother Bear is 10-years old and a stand-up guy. He is very sports- minded, with his favorite being soccer. He is also a big fan of T. Rex dinosaurs, model airplane building, and “wheels” of all kinds. Brother is computer literate and into video games. He often acts as protector and stands up for Sister and the smaller cubs at school.

In addition to listening to the story and meeting Sister Bear and Brother Bear, pajama party guests can participate in a variety of school-related activities throughout the evening. Practice packing a backpack with school supplies and have fun with apple stamping – stamp real apples with paint! Make a 3-D bus model out of paper and “Be the Teacher” using white boards and markers to draw and write like a teacher.

Kids can even create their own text book cover by tracing an illustration of the Berenstain Bears using a light table. In the bedtime story corner, kids can enjoy a quiet family snuggle time reading other Berenstain books while relaxing on beanbags.

At the end of the evening, kids are invited to hold their 3-D bus model high as they march and sing along with the Wheels on the Bus Parade. Then, it’s time to go home for a little hibernation, like bears do in the winter, but only for the night – and maybe some extra sleep because it’s the weekend!

Tickets for this event cost $10 per person for museum members and $15 per person for non-members. Children under the age of one will be admitted for free. Storybook Pajama Party tickets are non-refundable and non-transferable. Registration is required. Space is limited and tickets are selling briskly, so register early. Call 203 899 0606, ext. 264 or http://www.steppingstonesmuseum.org/ to register.

Stepping Stones is located at 303 West Avenue, Norwalk, CT, exit 14 North and 15 South off I-95. Museum hours are: Labor Day through Memorial Day, Tuesday—Sunday and select holiday Mondays from 10 am-5pm; and Memorial Day through Labor Day, Monday-Sunday from 10 am-5 pm. Admission is $15 for adults and children and $10 for seniors. Children under 1 are free. To learn more, visit www.steppingstonesmuseum.org.