PRESCOTT - The fall season is nearly here, and that means a resumption of free public programs by the Prescott Astronomy Club after a summer hiatus.
The club's first public program of the season will take place Saturday with a star party at the large ramada overlooking Watson Lake, located just east of the Highway 89 roundabout in Prescott's Watson Lake Park.
Participants will cruise the late summer Milky Way looking for a variety of star clusters, as well as a great view of Jupiter and its moons.
Club members will be at Watson Lake at 6 p.m. to help people tune up their telescopes, and the star party will follow from 7-9 p.m. The public can use club members' telescopes to view the sky.
On Thursday, Sept. 16, the club will kick off its fall "Third Thursday" presentations at 6:30 p.m. at the Prescott Public Library with a presentation on "The Cloak-and-Dagger Stars - Maybe!"
Father Chris Corbally, vice director of the Vatican Advanced Technology Telescope, will discuss the star Lambda Bootis. It seems like part of the Sun's generation but has characteristics of an older population of stars in the Galaxy.
Two public events also mark the club's October program.
The club will host a star party at Watson Lake from 7-9 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 9, where Jupiter and its moons will once again be a standout attraction.
October also is the month for the Fourth Annual Great World Wide Star Count, where stargazers will observe the constellation Cygnus the Swan. Go online to www.windows.ucar.edu/citizen_science/starcount for details.
The Third Thursday program at the Prescott Public Library for October will be on the 21st and feature David Koerner from the Physics and Astronomy Department at Northern Arizona University.
He will discuss "Cosmic Evolution: An Introduction to the Sciences of Astrobiology." It seeks to understand life's place in the universe by studying the origin of life, supporting planets and molecules together with the history of life on Earth.
The club's Fall season will wind-up in November with a star party at Watson Lake from 5:30-8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 13. Sky watchers will explore Jupiter and its moons, as well as Earth's moon.
The final Third Thursday presentation for 2010 will be Nov. 18. Ken Herkenhoff, a planetary scientist from the U.S. Geological Survey Astrogeology Science Center, will discuss "Spirit and Opportunity: The Mars Exploration Rover Missions."
Be on the lookout for the club's 2011 program brochure, due out soon after New Year's Day.