Members of the public have an opportunity to look through telescopes provided by the Local Group Astronomy Club of the Santa Clarita Valley at Vasquez Rocks County Park. Van Webster

The Local Group Astronomy Club to host Vasquez Rocks viewing party

Space may be the final frontier, but the Local Group Astronomy Club of Santa Clarita is helping the public navigate and chart the vast expanse of space.

On Saturday, Oct. 26, the Local Group is scheduled to host a public star viewing party at Vasquez Rocks from 6-10 p.m. with viewing beginning at 8 p.m. after sundown at 6 p.m. The Local Group will also host a workshop at 4 p.m. to help budding astronomers learn how to set up and use their telescopes.

Van Webster, vice president of the Local Group, said visitors can expect to see the new moon, Jupiter, Saturn and deep space objects like nebulae.

“One of the missions of the Local Group Astronomy Club is to spread knowledge to the general public and a lot of our attendees have never looked through a telescope or seen a deep space object with their own eyes,” Webster said. “There are a lot of ‘aha’ and ‘wow’ moments. You can see a lot of beautiful NASA and Hubble images, but that’s just another image on a screen and doesn’t mean much. When you get the light from the actual object coming into your eye, and in some cases that light has traveled thousands or even millions of years, that’s a pretty remarkable experience.”

Webster also said Vasquez Rocks is one of the best local places Santa Clarita residents can visit to get a good view of these heavenly bodies.

“Vasquez Rocks is normally closed at sundown but we make special arrangements with the park to stay open,” he said. “Few places near the city get as dark as Vasquez Rocks and it’s above a lot of the atmosphere, yet it’s close enough for people in Santa Clarita to come without having to travel too far.”

The viewing party will be held on a weather-permitting basis, and Webster advises anyone interested to check the group’s website and Facebook page for status updates. He also advised attendees to arrive at the park before sunset and to bring red light flashlights as opposed to white light so the night viewing experience will not be spoiled for other guests. 

For those who would like to attend a viewing party but cannot attend the Vasquez Rocks party, the Local Group will also host an event at the College of the Canyons Canyon Country campus on Oct. 25 from 6-10 p.m.

For more information about the Local Group and their viewing parties, visit lgscv.org.

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