Weather permitting, Westmont’s powerful Keck Telescope hopes to show off the planet Jupiter during a free, public viewing of the stars on Friday, Nov. 16, beginning at 6:30 p.m. The best viewing generally occurs later in the evening. In case of inclement or overcast weather, please call the Telescope Viewing Hotline at (805) 565-6272 and check the Westmont website to see if the viewing has been canceled.
“Jupiter is always a big dollop of eye candy,” says Thomas Whittemore, Westmont physics instructor. There will not be any shadows on the planet from its four Galilean moons, and we should be able to see a lot of structure on Jupiter’s surface.”
Whittemore says the Blinking Planetary (NGC 6826) in Cygnus may be in view, playing tricks on the eye when viewed either directly or with averted vision. “When viewed directly, the central star, a white dwarf, comes into clear view,” he says. “When the eye views the nebula away from the central star, the nebulosity stands out, not the central star. By adjusting the way you look at the nebula, it appears to blink.”
Also on the celestial menu is the open cluster NGC 457, the Owl Cluster, which is about 10,000 light-years distant. “This grouping of stars takes on the shape of an owl with its two ‘eyes’ commanding the view,” Whittemore says. “As you study this wonderful grouping of stars, consider the fact that this light has come 10,000 years to grace your eyes — well before the pyramids were built.”
The Keck Telescope is housed in the observatory between Russell Carr Field and the track and field/soccer complex. Free parking is available near the baseball field. Here is a pdf of the campus map.