O'Neill Nebraska

Director - Mark Urwiller

Assistant Directors:  Jay Rasmussen, Kay Wolfe, and Dan Glomski

Staff:  Mark Faust, Stephen Ford, Julie Price, Leon Thompson

Visitation Page



Observatory Reconstruction Is In Progress!

Give Us A Few Weeks And You'll Have Building To Visit!

Come On, You Can Make It Out Here!



Boldly Go Were Few Have Gone Before!


Observatory re-construction has begun.  The footings and pedestals for the telescope are in.  The electric cable has been trenched and is awaiting hook up.  More work will continue based on the schedules of my volunteers.  Photos of our progress are on the news page.

Both of my June offerings for observing were clouded out.  We'll keep trying this month.  There are some neat things happening in the sky.  Check out what we will observe below!  With Daylight Savings Time, sunset times are pretty late and true darkness - the end of astronomical twilight is after 11:00 PM!  This is the reason for the late start of viewing sessions.  See below.

Bring a lawn chair too if possible  These observing sessions will be at the new site even though the observatory is not there yet.  Please note these sessions will be 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.  You will be given directions where to park at that point!  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(s) 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.

Saturday July 14th at 9:30 PM.  If the weather cooperates this evening will offer a very thin crescent moon in the west with Mercury near it.  Venus, Jupiter, and Saturn will also be in the sky.  The moon will set shortly after sunset allowing for a constellation tour and dark sky observing of deep sky objects!

Saturday July 28th at 9:30 PM.  This evening will also be special if weather allows.  Jupiter and Saturn will be in the sky, but the emphasis will be on Mars!  Mars will be rising in the east at sunset.  It will be at Opposition which means it is at its closest point in its orbit to us.  This means it will be close enough to see some details on it like polar caps.  Temper your expectations and don't fall victim to possible Mars hoaxes which in the past have said it would reach an apparent size bigger than the full moon.  This is impossible!  Mars will still appear smaller in a telescope than Jupiter.  The moon will be one day past full and will rise shortly after sunset.  This should give us an opportunity to experience the "Moon Illusion"  (I'll let you "google" it).

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)  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!


Send comments to:

Mark Urwiller - Web Page Administrator

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