Reach for the stars at an astronomy party

The Faculty of Astronomy at Moorpark College and the Astronomical Society of Ventura County will present the final Star Party of the summer at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, September 17 at the Moorpark College Observatory, 7075 Campus Road.

Guest speaker Kevin McKeegan will give a short talk on meteorites. He is a professor of geochemistry and cosmochemistry in the Department of Earth, Planetary, and Space Sciences at UCLA, where he served as chairman from 2012 to 2016.

McKeegan holds a Bachelor of Science degree from St. Lawrence University and a Ph.D. from Washington University in St. Louis.

Moorpark College astronomy professor Hal Jandorf will present at 7:30 p.m. the stars, constellations, planets and other summer objects in the evening sky.

Saturn, nebulae, star clusters and galaxies will be visible through the telescopes set up by the VCAS. Participants can also take a trip through the observation dome.

“Star parties are always special because the community can learn about the night sky, learn the constellations, look through dozens of powerful telescopes, and learn more about the universe. Wait until you see Saturn for the first time. It’s not a picture in a book or on a computer screen,” Jandorf said.

The event is free for all ages and recommended for ages 6 and up. Places are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis.

Participants should bring cushions for the concrete seats, a light jacket and binoculars. Leave pets at home.

This year’s series of star parties drew 250-300 people to each event.

The observatory allows students to participate in classes and labs and allows the college to share the experience with the community, said Debi Klein, director of development for the Moorpark College Foundation, which sponsors the observatory programs and astronomy for more than 30 years.

Although this is the last event of the year at the observatory, Molly Shelton, an electrical systems engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, will speak at 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 21, at Moorpark College Forum in the Applied Arts Building.

The Department of Astronomy, VCAS and the Moorpark College Foundation are coordinating the event.

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