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Westmont Observatory reopens to public for first time in two years

Westmont College

SANTA BARBARA COUNTY, Calif. – Westmont College announced that it will reopen its Observatory to the public on Friday, March 18, for the first time in two years.

Friday's public viewing at the Observatory, located at 955 La Paz Rd, will start at 7 p.m. and last several hours. Face coverings will be required.

“Since the moon will be just past full, we will focus our attention on some bright open clusters in the northwestern sky and some open clusters near zenith,” said Thomas Whittemore, emeritus instructor of physics and Santa Barbara Astronomical Unit member.

Westmont said that possibilities during the viewing include the Messier trio of M36, M37 and M38 in Auriga, the charioteer, which are more than 4,000 light-years away.

"It’s particularly fun for me to ask the viewer what pattern they see in the collection of stars and let their imaginations enhance the public viewing," said Whittemore.

The viewing will also include M35 in Gemini, the twins, according to the college.

"This is a particular favorite of mine," said Whittemore. "The contrasting colors in the stars make for some dazzling eye candy."

Westmont said it hosts a free, public viewing on the third Friday of every month.

Free parking will be available near the Observatory, which is located between the baseball field and the track and field/soccer complex.

In case of weather changes, Westmont asks that guests call the Telescope Viewing Hotline at 805-565-6272 to see if the viewing has been canceled.

For more information on the Westmont Observatory, click here.

Article Topic Follows: Santa Barbara - South County

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