The ringed world Saturn, colliding galaxies, dying stars and even a glimpse of the "recently pummeled planet Jupiter" promise to be the high points of a public star party scheduled for tonight.
Hansen Planetarium spokesman Patrick Wiggins added that the party is sponsored by the Salt Lake Astronomical Society and the planetarium. All are invited for free views through some of the biggest astronomical telescopes in Utah, he said.In July, the largest planet in our solar system, Jupiter, was battered by more than 20 fragments of the comet Shoemaker-Levy 9. Many left large marks in the cloud cover near the planet's south pole, which were so dark that they were easily visible with modest telescopes.
Since then the marks have been fading and spreading, and Jupiter has been sinking lower in the west. These factors may make evidence of the cosmic battering difficult to spot at this point. However, looking through the telescopes at the star party will show for sure whether the marks are still visible.
The party will be held at the society's Stansbury Park Observatory Complex, located at the north end of Stansbury Park, Tooele County. The area is about a 35-minute drive from downtown Salt Lake City.
The event begins at 8:30 p.m., weather permitting, Wiggins said.
For more information, call the starline information service at the planetarium, 532-STAR.