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Astronomical club offers guided tour of night sky

Fri., Sept. 6, 2013, midnight

Steptoe Butte offers remarkable skyward views, too.

A state park ranger and stargazers from the Spokane Astronomical Society will gather Saturday evening on the 150-acre butte north of Colfax to offer tours both terrestrial and celestial.

The event, free with a state Discover Pass, starts around sunset.

Saturn and Venus will be visible, along with a sliver of the moon and Spica, a bright star, said Debbie Cotten, the group’s secretary.

Club members will bring telescopes to share with those who don’t have their own and point out planets and constellations.

“We are there to guide them through the sky,” Cotten said.

The club members also can offer telescope training to participants armed with their own.

“If you have a child that just got a new telescope and they’re not quite sure how to use it … they can certainly come and show you,” said Cherie Gwinn, a program specialist at Riverside State Park, which manages Steptoe Butte.

At 3,612 feet high, Steptoe Butte is the quartzite natural monument that offers long views over the Palouse.

Adrian Rogers

When: Saturday around sunset (about 7:15 p.m.).

Where: Atop Steptoe Butte at Steptoe Butte State Park in Oakesdale. The park is about 60 miles south of Spokane, mostly via U.S. 195. Six miles north of Colfax, turn east on Scholz Road and follow the signs to Oakesdale and Steptoe Butte.

Admission: Free, but a state Discover Pass is required. With fees, a day pass costs $11.50 and an annual pass costs $35. Passes are available at, (866) 320-9933, all stores and other locations where state fishing and hunting licenses are sold, and Washington State Parks offices.

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