Keck Telescope

Scott Craig

Keck Telescope

Talk Nerdy to Me

Westmont Hosts Monthly Telescope Viewing

On Friday, June 18, Westmont Observatory held a free, public telescope viewing, a monthly event hosted by the Santa Barbara Astronomical Unit (SBAU). About 100 to 150 people dropped by to view Westmont’s new, research-grade telescope.

The Keck telescope — not to be confused with the one in Hawaii — uses segmented primary mirrors and a 24-inch reflector, and is thought to be one of the most powerful telescopes on the Central Coast. It was funded in large part by the W.M. Keck Foundation and brought to campus in April. Since then, Westmont students and faculty have used the telescope to track meteorite trajectories and research variable stars. And on Friday, members of the SBAU directed its gaze to the moon and Saturn.

A line of people filtered through the observatory, while a telescope operator navigated from coordinate to coordinate. Outside, several SBAU members set up shop with their personal telescopes. The evening began after sunset and lasted for several hours.

For those looking to have an educational experience, SBAU members were happy to orate. “SBAU’s charter is education,” says Chuck McPartlin, the club’s Outreach Coordinator, who, in the middle of a small crowd, delineated constellations with a laser-pointer while narrating their celestial mythology.

Ultimately, the night’s purview was aesthetic: to appreciate the discrete pointillism of the night sky and to take in telescopic glimpses of glowing nebulas.

The club will reconvene for another public telescope observation on Saturday, July 10 at the Museum of Natural History and again on Friday, July 16 at the Westmont Observatory.

To submit a comment on this article, email or visit our Facebook page. To submit information to a reporter, email

Be succinct, constructive, and relevant to the story. Leaving a comment means you agree to our Discussion Guidelines. We like civilized discourse. We don't like spam, lying, profanity, harassment or personal attacks.

comments powered by Disqus
event calendar sponsored by:

Volunteers in Policing Is Looking for 10 Good Men and Women

An eye-opening volunteer program at Santa Barbara Police Department.

Alvarado and Ford File for School Board

Mark M. Alvarado and Kate Ford registered to run for the Santa Barbara Unified school board.

Thousands Received DACA Relief After Lawsuits Filed

Renewal applications have totaled 117,446 since program suspension was overturned.

Bank Robbery Suspect Kills Self in Bathroom

[Update] The suspect in the Goleta Rabobank robbery has been identified as Keith David Goodwin, believed to ...

News-Press’ Found to Owe Union and Employees $2.2 Million

National Labor Relations Board puts money amount on employee losses since 2006.