Public Events at the ONU Observatory
The best way to see the fantastic ONU Observatory is to watch this web page for upcoming events. Announcements of our public events may also appear in newspapers like the Ada Herald and Kenton Times. Daytime and nighttime Tours of the ONU Observatory are also possible. Contact the observatory manager:
Dr. Jason Pinkney
Fall 2014 Schedule
Friday, August 29, 8:30-10:30 pm. -- Public event. "Comet Rendezvous / Neptune Opposition"
On this night, we celebrate encounters with two comets. For Comet 67P/ Churyumov-Gerasimenko, a spacecraft called "Rosetta" has just reached the comet and is finding the optimum site for a November landing. While Comet 67P will not easily be visible from Earth, Comet Jacques is expected to be well-placed in the sky and bright enough for easy telescopic viewing. Comet Jacques is expected to be at its minimum distance from the Earth, 0.6 AU, on this date, Aug 29.
If the comets aren't enough excitement, the opposition of Neptune also occurs on this night! That means it's opposite the Sun in the sky and is optimally placed for viewing.
** Dr. Pinkney will give a talk about comets and Neptune around 9 pm. **
This event is free to the public but it is contingent on mostly clear skies. Check here for cancellations on Friday after 2 pm.
This event went well.
Friday, Sept 19, 8:30-10:30 pm. -- Public Event. "The Andromeda Galaxy" (Time change to 8:30.)
Join us at the ONU Observatory on Friday, Sept 19 anytime between 8:30 and 10:30 pm for "The Andromeda Galaxy". This will be a star party celebrating galaxies, in particular the Andromeda Galaxy, which is the closest large spiral galaxy to our own Milky Way. (It's "only" 2 million light years away!) The Astronomy Club will be there to point out this galaxy in the sky. (The Andromeda galaxy is just visible to the naked eye on a dark night, if you strain.) Follow that up with views through binoculars and telescopes for the full Andromeda experience. We will use a CCD camera to display images of galaxies on our TV. Solar system objects like Mars, Neptune, and Comet Jacques will be up for viewing as well.
This event is free to the public, but is contingent on mostly clear skies.
This event went well.
Note: On the morning of Wednesday, Oct 8, there will be a Total Lunar Eclipse visible from Ada, OH. No observatory event is planned because of the early hour. The Earth's umbra begins to cover the Moon around 5:15 am EDT and the Moon sets during totality, around 7:30 am EDT. It should be a beautiful sight and no telescope is needed.
Friday, October 17, 8:00-10:00 pm. -- Public Event. "The Opposition of Uranus"
Everyone is invited to the ONU Observatory on Friday, October 17 from 8-10 pm for "The Opposition of Uranus". The planet Uranus reached opposition on Tuesday, October 7. On that day, it was opposite the Sun in the sky and at about its closest approach to Earth. On October 17, although a little farther away, it will be well placed for observing in the early evening. Neptune also reached opposition (8/29) so it is also a good target for observing. These planets are not bright enough to be seen with the naked eye but look like bluish spheres in the telescopes. Come and see these distant, gas giants and you may even see their brightest Moons (Ariel and Triton).
As a bonus, we will try to glimpse Comet Siding Spring which is scheduled for a close encounter with Mars just 2 days later (10/19)! Mars and the comet, less than 2 degrees apart, will be best viewed at the beginning of our event since they set around 9:50 pm.
This event will be canceled in the event of cloudy weather. Check this web site on the afternoon before the event for cancellations.
Friday, October 31, 8:00-10:00 pm. -- Public Event. "Halloween and the Moon"
Everyone is invited to the ONU Observatory on Friday, October 31, 8-10 pm, for "Halloween and the Moon". This is the first of our events to feature the Moon this fall, and the first event ever to be held on Halloween! The Moon will be well-placed for viewing above the southern horizon and its phase will be just past 1st quarter. (Werewolfs don't come out unless the Moon is *full*. So we're safe and parents can rest in peace.) The lunar craters, maria and mountains are astounding to view through the eyepiece, and we will keep a telescope on the Moon at all times. We will also display a live image on a TV monitor.
Doc Pinkney and his observatory assistants will be armed with lasers and prepared for Halloween lunacy. There will be sound and video from 1950's sci-fi and horror movies. You are welcome to dress in a halloween costume, but keep in mind that there is no roof on the observatory (so it can be cold, bitterly cold, and alien abductions are a concern).
This event will be canceled in the event of an invasion of cloudy weather. Check this web site on the afternoon before the event for cancellations:
Friday, November 14, 8:00-10:00 pm. -- Public event. "Seeing in the Leonids"
Everyone is invited to the ONU Observatory on Friday, November 14, 8-10 pm, for "Seeing in the Leonids". The Leonid meteor shower will peak around November 17 this year, but it has a typical duration of about 4 days, so it will be just starting up. Moreover, there are two other showers that should still be producing meteors: the Taurids (peak Nov 5, duration 45 days), and the Pegasids (peaks Nov 12). The Taurids are famous for producing very bright meteors called "fireballs". Some have already been witnessed this fall from Ohio. So it should be a good night to be out under the stars (weather permitting) looking through telescopes at stars, planets and deep sky objects.
Bring your questions about the landing of the spacecraft Philae on the Comet 67/P C-G!
This event was held, but we were unable to observe due to more clouds than were forecasted.
Friday, December 12, 8:00-10:00 pm. -- Public Event. "The Geminid Meteor Shower"
Everyone is invited to the ONU Observatory on Friday, December 12, 8-10 pm, for "The Geminid Meteor Shower". This annual meteor shower will peak on Dec 13, but will be producing meteors already on Dec 12. Meteors (or shooting stars) are bright streaks across the sky caused by cometary or asteroid debris entering Earth's atmosphere at high speeds (10-45 miles/sec). This shower radiates from the constellation Gemini and produces one of the highest peak rates of all annual showers, 60 per hour. The meteor particles come from an unusual object, 3200 Phaethon, which appears to be a kind of burned-out comet called a "rock-comet". Fortunately, the Moon will not interfere with viewing. Telescopes are not needed to view meteors, so ours will be pointed at a variety of objects like Neptune, Uranus, the Orion Nebula, and the Pleiades.
As always, the event will be canceled by Friday afternoon if clouds are in the forecast. Watch this spot ...
This event was canceled (fog and clouds).
Spring 2014 Schedule
Friday, January 31, 8:00 - 10:00 pm. -- Public event. "Supernova in M82!"
Friday, February 21, 8:00-10:00 pm. -- Public Event. "Star formation in Orion"
Friday, March 7, 8:00-10:00 pm. -- Public Event. "The Moon in Taurus"
Friday, March 21, 8:00-10:00 pm. -- Public event. "Asteroids and Occultations"
Note: On the morning of Tuesday, April 15, there will be a Total Lunar Eclipse. No observatory event is planned because of the late hour. Totality begins around 3:06 am EDT and continues until 4:24 EDT. It should be a beautiful sight, with Saturn, Mars and Spica all within 23 degrees of the Moon.
Friday, May 2, 9:00-11:00 pm. -- Public Event. "Saturn near opposition."
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