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Friday night: Star party in Portola Valley

 

It's that time of year once more, when astronomers in and around Portola Valley gather at 8 p.m. on an August night -- this time on Friday, Aug. 13 -- to set up telescopes near the soccer field at 765 Portola Road for an evening of free star and planet gazing.

When it gets dark enough, there will also be Milky Way gazing, said Andrew Pierce, a member of the town's Nature and Science Committee, which is sponsoring this public event. Children and families are welcome.

The moon will be a sliver, good for moon-watching and great for not bathing the sky with light that would otherwise complicate an opportunity to see Venus, Mars and Saturn in the same general area of the sky, Mr. Pierce said.

The Milky Way is technically always visible, but much more visible during the summer, Mr. Pierce said.

Also expected to show up is Redwood City resident Albert Highe, the Bay Area's "premier telescope maker," Mr. Pierce said. A workshop for telescope owners is one of the evening's planned events.

To find your way after dark, you're advised to bring a flashlight with the lens covered with red cellophane to protect peoples' night vision.

Bring a warm coat. There is a lot standing around at a star party, and the temperature in Portola Valley can drop steeply after dark.

E-mail apierce@pierceshearer.com or call 842-8480 to volunteer.

Link to Almanac story of last year's summer star party.

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