The moon and Jupiter will be the featured attractions of this month’s free public viewing of the stars with Westmont’s powerful Keck Telescope on Friday, Jan. 18, 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.
The moon will be at first quarter this evening of the viewing, showing a host of wonderful craters near the terminator, the dividing line between the illuminated and unilluminated part of the moon. “Among these will be the triplet of Theophilus, Cyrillus and Catharina,” says Thomas Whittemore, Westmont physics instructor. “If the seeing is good, we should be able to see many of the mountain peaks in the centers of these craters.” Jupiter will be high in the night sky, sandwiched between the Moon and the Pleiades. “The four Galilean moons of Jupiter will align with Io on one side of the planet and Europa, Ganymede and Callisto on the other side,” he says. “If the weather cooperates, we should be able to see some of the details on Jupiter’s surface.” Whittemore says one of his favorite winter open clusters, NGC 7789, will be in view. “Discovered in 1783 by Caroline Herschel, the sister of William Herschel, this cluster is known as the White Rose Cluster because when seen visually, the loops of stars and dark lanes look like the swirling pattern of rose petals as seen from above,” he says. 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.