O'Neill Nebraska

Director - Mark Urwiller

Staff:  Leon Thompson, Austin Walrab

Visitation Page


What's Taking You So Long?

Don't Be a (April) Fool!


Come Out and See us!

Boldly Go Were Few Have Gone Before!

Join Our Listservs!  Get E-mail Announcements (No Advertisments!), Ask Questions/Share Answers.

Get Texts Informing You of Impromptu Viewing Sessions!  E-mail  mark.urwiller@tutanota.com to Join!

Videos For The Current Month Are Provided As Soon As They Become Available.


Turn Off The Sound At The Top

Of This Page To Listen To These Videos!

(The Width of a Full Moon is Roughly 1/2 Degree.)

Download This Month's Star Charts Here

Upcoming Classes I'm Teaching

I will be teach 3 classes at the O'Neill campus of Northeast Community College in April and May.  Here are the links to information:

Photographic Principles and Digital Cameras Beyond Cell Phones

How To Enjoy The Night Sky - Note this is a new astronomy class.

Introduction To Birding - the Saturday May 6th session is 8-11 AM.


The first of March's viewing sessions was too cold and the second one was clouded out.  March 23rd was a special night!  A coronal hole (on the sun) was facing earth and the resulting increased solar wind greatly deflected the earth's magnetic field.  A G4 geomagnetic storm occured which caused aurorae as far south as New Mexico and Alabama! I had been following my sources which showed a very good chance we would see them here.  They did indeed occur!  Photos can be seen on the observatory photo page!  If you want a fair chance at seeing them for yourself, consider taking my class at NECC on April 17th - How to Enjoy the Night Sky.  The link is above.

We'll hope for viewing nights in April that aren't as cold.  If they do occur, people should still dress very warm. The winter sky which will be departing to the west, has interesting objects to explore like the Crab Nebula, planetary nebulae in Gemini, and the Great Orion Nebula!  The spring sky will be in the east and has galaxies to offer!  Bring water or something warm to drink if you need it.  Make sure to bring a warm coat, gloves, boots (not tennis shoes), and something for your head!

In case of viewing session cancellation, I put out messages on the observatory email listserv and text lists. If no one reserves for a viewing session, I may opt for another activity at home. Please call instead of just showing up.  If you wish to be added to the e-mail and/or text list - e-mail me at mark.urwiller@tutanota.com.  If you want to be on the text list I need your phone number and cell provider.   These services are free and free of ads/spam!

Please note these sessions are cancelled if the sky conditions/weather are not good.  What does that mean?  Well, (optical) telescopes can't see through clouds!  It will need to be almost perfectly clear.  The next potential problem is wind.  If the wind velocity is much more than about 10 mi/hr - that's too much!  A telescope magnifies the size of the objects we view - and the effects of the wind!  Lastly, is the issue of mud.  The last stretch of road to the observatory is not maintained. Please check the ClearSkyClock and weather links on the home page of this site!  What if you're in doubt the observing session will take place?  If it's not perfectly clear and calm, you can call (308) 293-5776 before leaving for the session!

Here's a link for directions to the observatory starting from O'Neill:

Google Maps

From O'Neill Nebraska take US HWY 281 north to Road 883 (Johnson's Three Eagles).  Turn left (west) 2 miles to 490 Avenue.  Turn right (north) 0.6 mile to the red gate.  Proceed north of the gate another few hundred feet.  You will see the entrance on the right.  We will have you park along the fence near the entrance.  Be advised there is an electric fence on 3 sides of the building location.  If young children are present, they need to be watched.  Please call or e-mail to register so I know how many people to plan for! 

Click here for a Google Maps link!

Scheduled public viewing session and activities for March: 

Please email or call 308-293-5776 to register before 9:00 PM daily so we know how many guests to expect.  Sessions will be cancelled if no one calls to express interest.  There is no charge for these events!  Also, please call before leaving town if the weather is questionable.  Those on the text listserv will receive messages keeping you informed.  There is also the issue of whether the road is passable due to mud/snow depending on the time of year.

April 21st - Viewing beginning at 9:30 PM.  Deep sky observing - we'll view nebulae in Taurus, Gemini, and Orion as well as some galaxies in Leo. We'll have a constellation tour too!

April 28th -  Viewing beginning at 9:30 PM. The moon will be near 1st quarter and good for viewing. We'll also look at some star clusters and double stars. We'll have a constellation tour too!


If you want to know about all Tri-City and O'Neill Area astronomical opportunities available free to the public this month, check here!


If you would like to help us move, call us at 308-293-5776 before 10:00 PM daily or contact by e-mail. 

  We look forward to seeing you!

point.gif (974 bytes)

When visiting the observatory, here are some

rules/recommendations you should consider:

1) Please stay in or close to the observatory.  This facility is located on private property, which is not mine.  Please show your thanks to the owners by keeping the area clean and undisturbed.
2) Please, while in the observatory, don't touch anything unless you ask and/or have been instructed as to the proper use of the instrument!
3) Bring a lawn chair for each member of your group, that is if you plan on staying a while, as we hope you will. If it is clear, please keep in mind that it often takes a while to find objects for you to look at. Often there are others in line to see these things as well. You are welcome to pull up a chair and ask as many questions as you like. We have some chairs, but not many.
4) Bring a flashlight for dark-sky observing sessions!  (If the moon is in the sky, you may not need it.) You will need one of these to safely navigate from your car to the building. We purposely don't have any lights in the area of the facility. Once in the building, we generally ask that you don't use your flashlight (with its white bulb) unless you ask. We have red lights which will help you see where you are going inside the building!
5) No smoking is allowed in or around the building!
6)  In winter, please bring plenty of warm clothing! This can't be over stressed. Standing still in the cold is nothing like being active in it! Wear several layers and don't forget those gloves/mittens and something for your head. There is no such thing as glamour when it comes to staying warm!  There is no heat in the observatory!
7) In Summer - don't forget the mosquito repellant!
8) Be advised there are no bathroom facilities in the observatory!
9) No boisterous behavior within the observatory, or around it, will be tolerated!
10)  Please don't disturb the cattle.  If you like them, admire them from a distance! 

Worried about the threat of light pollution in your area? For more information on it and how you can help educate others to enjoy lights AND the night sky - check out our light pollution page and the link page!

Send comments to:

Keep Looking Around!

Mark Urwiller - Web Page Administrator

Home  Introduction  Visitation Dates  Observatory Equipment  Links 

Observatory News  Photos    Light Pollution  PVAO