The ringed planet Saturn, sitting in the nearby constellation of Virgo, will be one of the focal points of a free, public viewing Friday beginning at 8 p.m. at the Westmont Observatory.

The observatory opens its doors to the public every third Friday of the month in conjunction with the Santa Barbara Astronomical Unit, whose members bring their own telescopes to Westmont for the public to gaze through. The viewing lasts for several hours.

In case of inclement weather, please call the Telescope Viewing Hotline at 805.565.6272 or click here to check the Westmont website to see if the viewing has been canceled.

“Although the moon will be nearly full this evening, 12 days old, and placed in the constellation Libra, we should still get a good look at Saturn,” said Thomas Whittemore, Westmont physics instructor. “Saturn’s large moon, Titan, will lie on one side of the planet and the moons Enceladus, Rhea and Dione on the other side of Saturn’s rings. If the seeing is good, we should be able to see the Cassini Division, the beautiful, dark break between Saturn’s A and B rings.”

— Scott Craig is the media relations manager for Westmont College.