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Stargazers look to Saturn, new moon

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The Whistler Astronomy Club is keeping its fingers crossed for clear skies Saturday, April 21, as its members host the public for International Astronomy Day.

Local stargazers will be bringing a wide range of telescopes and binoculars to Rainbow Park from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m., inviting the public to take a look at what the evening has to offer. Highlights include the first quarter moon, showing its crater surface in detail, and a view of the planet Saturn — the rings visible using most telescopes.

“It’s a real thrill to show Saturn to someone for the first time through a telescope,” says local astronomer Carol Legate. “The first response is always ‘wow’.”

As well, the spring sky offers views of the Virgo Galaxy Cluster, of which the Milky Way is a part, as well as of the Milky Way itself.

The International Space Station will also make an appearance, on one of its 90-minute orbits of the planet. The recent addition of new solar arrays and living quarters have given the ISS a span of more than 73 metres, which is clearly visible from a distance of 300 miles. It moves fast, but is brighter than any satellite. Look for it at around 10:07 p.m., appearing on the western horizon, and heading to the southwest.

Astronomy Day is free, and participants are encouraged to bring their own telescopes and binoculars.

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