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(The Width of a Full Moon is Roughly 1/2 Degree.)
The first viewing session in September had to be cancelled in large part due to the smoke from fires to the west. As of this revision the second session will be held, but conditions will not be good due to smoke and clouds. October will be a very good month to view Mars as it comes to opposition. More details on what that means can be found in the video above. I would add some supplemental information - don't get your expections too high. Mars is about 1/2 the diameter of the earth and twice that of our moon, yet it is still about 150 times further away than the moon at this opposition. Don't fall for any internet "Mars Hoaxes" that claim it will be larger than the full moon - utter rubbish! Still, at opposition allows the opportunity to view some details on the planet provided a nasty dust storm on Mars doesn't take place and the stability/transparency of our atmosphere allows. To start the month, Mars will be too low in the east at the beginning of our viewing sessions to allow best viewing. If visitors stay long enough, Mars will rise further from the horizon and hopefully improve if our atmosphere cooperates :) This month will still offer good views of Jupiter and Saturn. As far as the deep sky - the Andromeda Galaxy is great this time of year as well as the double cluster in Perseus. There is never a shortage of things to look at. If you do your "homework" - I take requests :)
Hopefully in October the fires in the western states will be contained and provide some rain for the Ag folks (in the day:). I have set up 2 viewing sessions for the public and information can be found below. I won't be able to stay out too late since I am photographing weddings the day after for both of these. I will also be teaching Beginning Astronomy for Northeast Community College in Ainsworth and Hardington in October. Contact Northeast Community College for more information.
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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!
September 25th - Viewing starting at 8:30 PM. This evening will allow us to explore the moon a couple of days after 1st qtr. Participants can try to identify crators with maps I can provide. We'll look at Jupiter and Saturn and, if visitors stay long enough, we might take a look at Mars.
October 9th - Viewing beginning at 8:00 PM. This session will begin with a constellation tour. We'll move on to Jupiter and Saturn and then...we will explore some deep sky objects like the great star cluster in Hercules, the Andromeda Galaxy - and others!
October 23rd - Viewing starting at 8:00 PM. This evening will allow us to explore the moon at 1st qtr. Participants can try to identify crators with maps I can provide. We'll look at Jupiter and Saturn and Mars. Some double stars are an option 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!
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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