Observatory re-construction is going well. Photos of our progress are on the news page.
Both of our viewing opportunities for September have occured. The dates and details are below. The weather didn't cooperate for the first one, but the weather was fine for the second one! We had 3 couples out for viewing. They stayed a couple of hours. We viewed Jupiter and Saturn. We did a constellation tour and looked at Great Hercules Star Cluster and the Andromeda Galaxy. They asked lots of wonderful questions. They said they would come back!
I will announce dates for next month later in September. With any luck we might be looking through the main telescope some time in October. I will be going to south Texas in November so no viewing opportunities will occur that month. We'll get right back in the saddle in December! We have the Geminid Meteor Shower which peaks December 14th. Check here for more information. If you haven't already heard we have a comet approaching which will reach it's brightest in December. A couple of weeks ago I started to see some of the major news outlets put out information on it. As usual they inflated expections and recently data suggests that it might not be as bright as earlier reported. You can find more information here - make sure you check the "current status" link after reading this page. A famous comet scientist said something very true years ago. Comets are like cats; they both tails and they do what they want to. I'll explain in detail why this is true when you come out to visit :) The comet could still be very nice. We'll have to wait and see. Don't expect anything like Comet Hale-Bopp in 1997!
Bring a lawn chair if possible These observing sessions will be at the new site even though the observatory is not quite there yet. 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 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! 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!
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 hunbdred 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. I will be putting up signs on the highway and at Ave 490 that say "Star Party" Please call or e-mail to register so I know how many people to plan for!
Saturday Sept. 8th at 9:00 PM. We'll take a look at Jupiter, Saturn, and Mars. We'll tour the constellations. Since It's the day before New Moon, the sky will be moonless and we can look at deep-sky objects like the Ring, Dumbbell, and Veil Nebula - and the Andromeda Galaxy.
Saturday Sept. 15th at 9:00 PM. The moon will be one day before 1st quarter. That means it will be well placed in the evening sky and show great contrast for crator viewing. The moonlight will wash out deep-sky objects, but we can look at planets, tour the constellations, and view some pretty double and multiple star systems.
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!
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
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. If it is cloudy, 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) Help us keep gates closed so as to not let cattle out! 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!
Keep Looking Around!
Mark Urwiller - Web Page Administrator
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