With thousands of acres of rolling pines and open pastures, East Feliciana Parish is a stargazer’s paradise.

From Oct. 21-26, the Deep South Regional StarGaze Club held its 32nd annual StarGaze at the Feliciana Retreat Center near Norwood in East Feliciana Parish.

More than 107 amateur astronomers from 15 different astronomy clubs from New Orleans to Mobile, Alabama, attended.

One attendee came from Fredericksburg, Virginia, for this year’s event, club Director Barry Simon said.

“The purpose of the star club is an opportunity for amateur astronomers from the region to get together at a picturesque setting with dark skies to relax and enjoy the hobby of astronomy,” Simon said.

The event is in the fall because that gives the event the best opportunity for clear skies at a time of year when it is usually not too hot or too cold, he said.  

The dates are selected when there will not be a moon in the sky.

Stargazers had several events of special interest this year, including a partial solar eclipse and the Orionid meteor shower, Simon said.  

Mars, Uranus and Neptune were visible in the evening sky, and Jupiter and Venus were visible in the east before dawn, he said.

The Deep South Regional StarGaze event is the oldest annual star party in the southeastern United States. 

It got its start in 1983 at Percy Quin State Park, near McComb, Mississippi. 

It was at that location for its first 22 years and then moved to Camp Ruth Lee, which is just across the road from the Feliciana Retreat Center. 

Simon said the club chose the Feliciana Retreat Center because it is free of intruding lights.

“The Feliciana Retreat Center gives us the best combination of features from all of our previous locations and they accommodate us very well,” Simon said.

The accommodations at the center are more varied with motel type rooms in the lodge; heated cottages with bathrooms; and the ability to stay in a tent, camper or motor home, he said.

The Feliciana Retreat Center provides a serene setting with facilities for various organizations and families to host workshops, conferences, retreat seminars, family reunions, weddings and camps.

The center is complete with a lake, pond, wooded hills and meadows that provide opportunities for a variety of contemplative and recreational opportunities.

Feliciana Retreat Center Administrator Dick Wuensch said he and his staff of 20 will work with groups and any sort of accommodations that they can do for their group, they will.

“The stargazers want the lights out when they visit and with the assistance of Demco Electric, we make that happen,” Wuensch said.

The Feliciana Retreat Center is located at 10274 La. 22 in Norwood.

For additional information or questions regarding the center, call (225) 683-9420 or email o ffice@feliciana retreat.org.

For information on the Deep South Regional StarGaze, call (504) 481-2450.