Dance of the Planets Over Ocotillo



 OCOTILLO – A celestial show treated the Valley residents Saturday night at the Imperial Valley Desert Museum in Ocotillo.

This is the fourth public event at the museum since it opened back in 2011.  From the first stargazing event in January of 2012, beholding the heavens at night has become one of the museum’s signature events.

Neil Hitch, museum curator and director, alongside Steve Benton, a retired astronomer and treasurer of the museum Board of Trustees, hatched the idea due to the naturally dark night skies over Ocotillo.

“For some of the kids who came out, it’s probably the first time that they’ve seen the moon through a telescope,” said Hitch.

A presentation by Benton proceeded the stargazing.  Benton discussed what astro-phenomenon museum goers would be seeing that evening, an event he called “The Dance of the Planets” featuring Jupiter, Venus, and Mercury.

024Outside four telescopes were set up for viewing the three planets and the moon as it rose from the East.  One telescope was a personal one set up by astronomy enthusiast Todd Machado from El Centro just for the event.

“I always love to hear “oo’s” and “ah’s” when they see Jupiter and Saturn through the telescope for the first time,” said Machado.

“I’ve never really been interested in stars, but this event got me interested,” said Sharon Mousel about her second stargazing event, “And even if you’re not interested it’s like ‘Oh, I didn’t really know this about stars before,’ so it’s cool.”


  1. I was way too nervous when I got interviewed. I failed at trying to sound at least a little bit professional xD Oh well.

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