O'Neill Nebraska

Director - Mark Urwiller

Staff:  Leon Thompson

Visitation Page

Captain Kirk - The Observatory Is Ready!!!


You Mean I Get To Go To The Observatory Now?


Boldly Go Were Few Have Gone Before!



  The Platte Valley Astronomical Observers (PVAO) of which I am the president, is offering viewing session "Outreach Events" in various Nebraska locations this summer.  Click here to check them out! 

I didn't have much time to promote the first viewing session with "Big Bertha" (the 17.5" Rasmussen) but I was surprised at the turnout.  I had one group - 2 adults and 3 children who said they were coming, but never came :(  Leon Thompson and his wife came and the 3 of us enjoyed a nice evening.  I had a couple of "bugs" to work out after not using this instrument for over 2 years, but once they were taken care of the scope worked wonderfully!  It's truly amazing what an instrument this size can do under some of the darkest skies anywhere!

My schedule for this month is pretty tight.  I am continuing to help a friend in Kennesaw with construction.  I have some outreach sessions in other towns and we have a graduation in the family.  The first viewing session is scheduled on a night I would not normally observe, but we will have a visitor!  He too owns an observatory and he would enjoy meeting some local folks!  The second viewing session will be offered on a moonless night which shows off the darkness of the observatory site.

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!

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.  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! 


Click here for a Google Maps link!

Scheduled public viewing session and activities for July: 

Please call 308-293-5776 to register before 9:00 PM daily so we know how many guests to expect.  There is no charge for these events!  Also, please call before leaving town if the weather is questionable.  There is also the issue of whether the road is passable due to snow/mud depending on the time of year.

July 12th at 10:00 PM - This viewing session will occur with a gibbous moon in the sky.  Visitors will get a constellation tour, see the moon and Jupiter, and view some double stars.  We will have a guest, Bob Runyan, from Shelton who has his own observatory.  He loves to share his knowledge with visitors.

July 27th at 10:00 PM - This is 3 days past 3rd qtr moon which means it will rise late in the night and allow us nice dark skies!  After a constellation tour we'll explore some deep sky objects - galaxies, nebulae, and star clusters.

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!

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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. 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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Keep Looking Around!

Mark Urwiller - Web Page Administrator

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