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(The Width of a Full Moon is Roughly 1/2 Degree.)
The rainy/cloudy weather foiled both of our originally scheduled viewing sessions for May. We'll give it one more try for May and move on to June. I will wear a mask. Mine is a Star Trek mask. Let's see yours! The sun is setting later each night and so is nightfall - until the summer solstice. That's why the starting times for viewing are getting later.
2 things conspired against us to view Comet Swan. For me it's mostly been the prevalence of clouds. Also, since this is the comet's first trip to the inner solar system and close solar orbit, the nucleus broke up and caused its brightening to stall. It's now heading closer to the sun in space and in the sky. This makes it impossible to view until after perihelion (closest approach to the sun) when it will be both getting fainter both intrinsically and apparently due to it's increasing distance from us. Comet Neowise is also coming into the inner solar system, but its orbital geometry is not the best for any of us earthlings - northern or southern hemisphere - and will only be "good" for us in the northern hemisphere after perihelion (in early July) and getting dimmer. It might be better than Comet Swan, but again, don't hold your breath!
Bring a lawn chair if possible 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 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. Please call or e-mail to register so I know how many people to plan for!
May 29th - Observatory viewing beginning at 9:30 PM. We will view the 1st qtr. moon with a telescope and both 10 x 70mm and 25 x 100mm binoculars! (See the News Page!) We can start viewing before it's fully dark. After it gets dark - constellation tour and double stars.
June 19th - Observatory viewing beginning at 10:00 PM. Moonless evening! Constellation tour, then...we will explore some galaxies and the great star cluster in Hercules - among others!
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) 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!
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Mark Urwiller - Web Page Administrator
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