Today, May 20, astronomy enthusiasts will have the opportunity from 8-11 p.m. to view Saturn and its rings through the high-powered Keck Telescope at Westmont College’s observatory.
According to Westmont physics instructor Tom Whittemore, Friday will be the perfect night to view Saturn. Because the moon will not rise until 11:30 p.m., it will be possible to view Saturn, its rings, five of its moons, and globular clusters M3 in Canes Venatici and M5 in Serpens.
“If the night is steady, we should be able to see the Cassini Division, a blank separation between the A and B rings, along with five of the gas giant’s moons: Titan, Rhea, Dione, Tethys, and Enceladus,” said Whittemore.
The global clusters M3 and M5 are part of the Milky Way Galaxy. M3 has around 500,000 stars, and M5 is oval-shaped, spanning around 150 light years from side to side. “These remarkably bright objects will certainly dazzle the public’s eyes,” said Whittemore.
The Keck Telescope, which is new at Westmont, is one of the most powerful on California’s Central Coast. The Santa Barbara Astronomical Unit (SBAU), which will host the viewing, uses Westmont’s 24-inch reflector telescope the third Friday of every month for free public viewing parties.
For more information or to check the status of the viewing in case of stormy weather, call the Telescope Viewing Hotline at 565-6272 or check the Westmont Web site at westmont.edu.