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‘Road Map to the Night Sky’ program set for Saturday

stargazing-cmykBy DONNA BETH WEILENMAN
Martinez Tribune

MARTINEZ, Calif. – Martinez stargazers can get a guided tour of the night sky Saturday, Dec. 12, at John Muir National Historic Site.

During “Road Map to the Night Sky,” a free, 90-minute program, park rangers will help visitors learn to spot constellations, said Jim MacDonald, lead park ranger.

“Using these constellations as a road map, we will explore their historical context, the types of starts that comprise them, the positions of various planets, and take a special look at deep-space objects – galaxies, clusters, nebulae – using a high-powered telescope,” he said.

Reservations aren’t required for this program, he said, but those with questions may call the John Muir National Historic Site visitors center at (925) 228-8860.

Visitors will meet Saturday, Dec. 12, at the park, 4202 Alhambra Ave., for the 5:30 p.m. program. If the weather is inclement, the outdoor portion will be canceled, MacDonald said.

Also on the park’s December schedule is its annual Winter Solstice Campfire Dec. 21, MacDonald said.

This program starts at 3 p.m. with crafts and games in the park’s orchards. The campfire will take place from 5-7 p.m. Dec. 21, he said.

Park rangers will lead visitors in songs, tell stories, lead other activities that celebrate the changing of seasons and share information about the legacy of John Muir, he said.

MacDonald called Muir “one of the greatest naturalists and conservationists the United States has ever known.” He also was a prolific author.

Booking passage to California in 1868, Muir began exploring the Yosemite area and was instrumental in preserving that area as a national park. He also co-founded the Sierra Club and remained its president until his death. In 1880, Muir married Louisa Strentzel, whose father, Dr. John Strentzel, operated a 2,600-acre fruit orchard in Martinez. The two men became partners in operating the orchard, although Muir frequently returned to the Sierras. Part of the orchard acreage and house make up the national park.

The park is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, and admission is free.

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