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May Astronomy events in the Santa Monica Mountains

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There are a couple good reasons to look skyward in the Santa Monica Mountains this May – a pair of star-studded events provided by the National Park Service.

The ringed planet of Saturn will reach the closest point of its orbit to Earth in May and you can take advantage of this alignment by checking out Astronomy Day, a free event that will be held at the Racho Sierra Vista/Satwiwa area of the Santa Monica Mountains in Newbery Park. The even will be held on Saturday, May 10th from 8:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Meet at the visitor center at 4121 Potrero Road, Newbury Park, CA, 91320 and scope out Saturn at it’s brightest as it passes closest to the earth in 2014.

One week later, on May 17th an Astrophotography Event will be held in the same area. This event is a two-parter. Beginning at the NPS headquarters in Thousand Oaks (401 West Hillcrest Drive), there will be an astrophotography lecture from 4 p.m. to 5:50 p.m. The lecture will cover “the Milky Way, star trails, Moon phases, the science of sunsets, focusing in the dark, exposure stacking, correct exposures, and the role of ISO.”

After the lecture, put the lessons to use outside the Satwiwa Native American Indian Culture Center Field Section, located at Rancho Sierra Vista / Satwiwa in Newbury Park. From 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. you can practice photographing the night sky (and pick up a few more pointers). Bring a DSLR camera and a tripod.

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