BARSTOW • The community is invited to take a rare look at the largest, oldest and most volcanically-active moons in space Tuesday.
Barstow Community College will allow the public access to its observatory telescope, a 16-inch Schmidt-Cassegrain reflector, to view planet Jupiter and its four moons from the BCC Astronomical Observatory, according to a news release.
BCC Astronomy instructor Scott Bulkley will provide narration to those in attendance and students of his Introduction to Astronomy class will be on hand to answer questions.
"(Tuesday) is actually one of the best times to see Jupiter in the evening," Bulkley said, "before it gets too far away from us."
Clear weather permitting, the public can expect to get an intimate view of the most volcanically-active (Io), largest (Ganymede) and oldest (Callisto) moons in the solar system, Bulkley said.
Jupiter's fourth moon, Europa, is interesting in its own right.
A paper published March 1 by researchers from the California Institute of Technology and NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory detailed possible findings of salt on Europa's surface — an indication the surface might mix with the warm-water ocean found 60 miles below it.
The suggestion is that exploration of Europa's ocean can potentially occur from the surface, prompting astronomer and author Phil Plait to write for Slate's "Bad Astronomy" blog: "We have no direct evidence for life on or in Europa, but wow, the ingredients really do look like they're there."
Aside from the moons, Bulkley also hopes the public will be able to get a glimpse of the great red spot on Jupiter, itself, noting it to be the planet's "most dramatic feature," comparing it to "a hurricane-like storm raging out of control."
The BCC Astronomical Observatory is located off Veterans Parkway, across from the Veterans Home of Barstow. Parking is available on Veterans Parkway.
The viewing will begin at 7:30 p.m. and end at approximately 9 p.m. or whenever the last person has had their turn, Bulkley said.
The event is free.
Contact Bulkley at 760-252-2411, ext. 7301 for more information.
Shea Johnson may be reached at (760) 256-4126 or at SJohnson@DesertDispatch.com.