O'Neill Nebraska

Director - Mark Urwiller

Staff:  Leon Thompson, Lianna Murphy

Visitation Page

Congrats Grads!

Remember Mother's Day and Memorial Day!


Boldly Go Were Few Have Gone Before!

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

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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



The trip to Texas to view the eclipse was a success!  I won't spend any time here describing it.  I will be giving a free program at the O'Neill Public Library on June 26th from 6:00 - 8:00 PM.  You can find more information on the News Page here.  Bring the family or a friend, water, and snacks for fun evening!

There will be 2 viewing sessions in May - weather allowing, but I don't know exactly what equipment we will be using. Fortunately I have several options to choose from!  The big scope has had its mirrors cleaned, but I have not had a chance to collimate (align) them.  I need to paint the base of the mount and there is great need for some cable management in the electronics.  The observatory floor needs cleaning and resealing.  This involves taking everything out of the observatory (except the big scope) and putting it back again!  The tables need cleaning and the whole building needs repainting.  I am starting to build a deck at my home, so the observatory will have to wait a bit :)

I'll figure out something.  See below for the observing dates and what we will look at.  Come on out!

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 (summer) or snow (winter).  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!

The observatory now has a cell phone adapter for scopes and binoculars.  Before you get too excited, please note that cell phones are somewhat limited as to their astronomical capabilities.  You won't be able to photograph the "faint fuzzies" we put in the scope.  However, you will be able to leave with a photo of the moon or a planet :)  This unit features a bluetooth remote shutter so there is no shake to activate the shutter.  Come out and give it a try!


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 May: 

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 contacts me 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.

May 10th -  9:30 PM CDT.  We'll start with a constellation tour.  The International Space Station will make an appearance about 8:50 pm starting low in the west and moving across the north.  Spring is galaxy season and we'll look at some in Leo and Ursa Major (The Big Dipper).  Bring lawn chairs or chaise lounges.

May 17th -  9:30 PM CDT. We will view the moon, double stars, and of course have a constellation tour!  Bring lawn chairs or chaise lounges.

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 make reservations, 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. 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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