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Friday: Star party in Portola Valley

Planets and moons, stars and galaxies, telescopes and people who know how to set them up for the benefit of all who are curious or inspired by views of our heavenly neighbors. A Portola Valley star party is set for around dusk on Friday evening, Oct. 12, near the soccer field at the Town Center.

The moon will be in its last quarter and casting a level of light that should not interfere much with star-gazing. Sunset is expected shortly after 6:30 p.m.

To find your way after dark, you're advised to bring a flashlight with the lens covered with red cellophane -- to protect the night vision of others at the party.

Bring a warm coat. Star parties can involve a lot of standing around, and the temperature in Portola Valley can drop sharply after dark. The forecast predicts a nighttime temperature of 46 degrees, winds of 5 to 10 mph, and a 20 percent chance of showers.

And bring a own telescope if you have one. Experienced amateur astronomers, including Andrew Pierce and Jim McClure, are scheduled to be there to offer assistance in setting them up.

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