"Saturday Stars," a new program introduced this year by the Friends of Lick Observatory, offers prime viewing opportunities at the observatory for amateur astronomy groups and others with a keen interest in astronomy.

Groups of 20 to 30 people will have the opportunity to observe a variety of astronomical objects through the historic 36-inch Lick Refractor, using its eyepiece, and the 40-inch Nickel Reflector, which is equipped with a CCD direct-imaging camera. Both telescopes are housed in Lick Observatory's Main Building on Mt. Hamilton.

These exclusive astronomy events are available for the following Saturday nights this summer: July 20; August 3, 17, and 31; and September 21. The group rate is $1,000 for up to 30 people.

The Nickel Reflector's camera has a 6.3x6.3-arcminute field of view and B, V, R, and I filters. Groups will be able to request the objects they would like to observe and will have access to that night's digital images from the Nickel Telescope. For technical questions regarding telescope limits and the CCD camera, please contact Elinor Gates at egates@ucolick.org or (831) 459-5910.

Participants may also bring their own telescopes to this prime viewing site. Each event will start just prior to sunset, and the Lick Observatory Gift Shop will be open for the first hour of the night. Observing will commence at 12-degree twilight and end after 4 hours.

For more information or to sign up for one of these nights, please contact Paula Towle at ptowle@ucolick.org or (831) 459-2991. For questions regarding payment, please contact Leah Martin at lmartin@ucolick.org or (831) 459-5164.

The Friends of Lick Observatory program fosters public participation in the Observatory community and offers a range of membership levels. For more information, visit www.ucolick.org/public/friends.