Nantucket’s Maria Mitchell Association (MMA) is operating a free shuttle this season, “The Starlight Express,” from three locations in downtown Nantucket to its Loines Observatory to encourage visitors and residents to stargaze each Friday night during the Observatory’s Open Night.
The shuttle will operate three round-trip loops with the first pick-up at 8:45 pm from the Maria Mitchell Association’s Aquarium at 28 Washington Street with additional pick-up locations at the Visitor Information Center at 25 Federal Street, and outside the Nantucket Hotel at 77 Easton Street. The first shuttle will arrive at Loines Observatory at 9 pm. The last shuttle will leave the Observatory at 10:35 pm.
The Starlight Express will be operated by Gail’s Tours, and the van will be clearly marked with signs. At Loines Observatory, admission for members of the MMA will also be free, with non-members paying $10 each. A professional astronomer will guide visitors on a tour of the constellations and will point out astronomical objects through both a historic telescope and a large modern research telescope.
The shuttle is funded by a grant from The Community Foundation for Nantucket’s ReMain Nantucket Fund.
“We are so grateful to The Community Foundation for Nantucket’s Re- Main Nantucket Fund for providing the funds for the shuttle. It will help to expose more people to the exceptionally beautiful night skies of Nantucket and will help unite the Loines Observatory with Nantucket’s Cultural Heritage District. The shuttle will also help alleviate the limited parking available at Loines Observatory,” says David Gagnon, Executive Director of the Maria Mitchell Association.