The best way to see the fantastic new 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 2013 Schedule
Friday, September 6, 8:00 - 10:00 pm. --- "Venus passing the Virgin" Public event.
The planet Venus will be passing close to Spica, the brightest star in the constellation Virgo ("the virgin"). We will watch it descend towards the western horizon for the first hour. There will still be twilight when we begin at 8 pm, but Venus should be easy to locate if it is clear. After it sets, there will still be other objects of interest, including Saturn and deep sky objects. Also, there's no place like the ONU Observatory for just watching the sky for satellites and meteors.
Friday, September, 27, 8:00 - 10:00 pm -- "The Andromeda Galaxy" Public event.
The ONU Astronomy Club invites everyone to attend the next event at the ONU Observatory. Our theme is "The Andromeda Galaxy", and the free event runs from 8 to 10 pm. Our main target will be the Andromeda Galaxy, the biggest, brightest galaxy in the northern sky (after our own Milky Way). Dr. J. Pinkney, professor of physics and astronomy at ONU, will give a short presentation on this galaxy around 9 pm, followed by a Q&A session.
The Moon will be near apogee (it's farthest from the Earth) tonight, but will not rise until after the event. That means it will be easier to see Andromeda and other deep sky objects! In addition, Venus, Uranus and Neptune will be available.
Watch this web page for cancellations on Friday afternoon in the event of a cloudy forecast.
Friday, October 4, 8:00 - 10:00 pm -- "Opposition of the Green Planet"
This event was cancelled (weather).
Friday, October 18, 8:00 - 10:00 pm. --- "Penumbral Lunar Eclipse" Public Event (during "Experience ONU Day").
You can observe the lunar eclipse from your own backyard between sunset and about 9:30 pm. However, penumbral eclipses like this produce only a minor, subtle darkening of the Moon. It will just appear like a full moon to most.
This event was cancelled (weather and equipment).
Friday, November 1, 7:30 - 9:30 pm. --- "Maximum Elongation for Venus" Public Event.
The special occasion is the maximum eastern elongation configuration for the planet Venus. The orbit of Venus fits within the Earth's orbit, and so there is a limit to how far Venus can appear separated from the Sun. That limit is 47 degrees, and on Nov 1, Venus reaches it for the first time in 8 months. Normally, that means easy viewing of Venus, but this time it will be close to the horizon after Sunset.
We will begin earlier than usual so that we can catch a glimpse of Venus before it sets. We will then target Uranus and Neptune, as well as various double stars and deep-sky objects. Also, this will be the first event in which our new 11-inch telescope will be in operation!
Check this web page on Friday for cancellation due to a cloudy forecast.
This event was cancelled (weather).
Friday, November 22, 9:00 - 11:00 pm. --- "Jupiter is Back!" Public Event.
This event celebrates the return of Jupiter to our evening skies. We are starting later than usual to ensure that Jupiter is high enough in the sky for telescopic viewing. (It will be 10 degrees high by 9:30 pm, EST.) Come and see the "Galilean moons" and the swirling cloud decks of Jupiter! As always, we will view other solar system and deep sky objects such as Uranus and the Orion Nebula. We will also be unveiling our new telescope and mount with improved GoTo capabilities!
This event will be cancelled by 3 pm Friday afternoon in the event of a cloudy forecast. (Hopefully, we will get clear skies for a change!)
This event was cancelled (weather).
Friday, December 6, 8:00 - 10:00 pm. --- "Mira, the Miracle Star" Public Event.
We often think of miraculous stars when the holidays role around, so Omicron Ceti, or "Mira", is an appropriate theme for a December 4 astronomy event at the ONU Observatory. This star was named from the latin word for "wonderful" because of its dramatic variability. Its brightness varies from "too faint to be seen", to "easily visible" over a 332 day period. Dr Pinkney will be giving a short presentation about Mira and other variable stars around 9 pm. We will be looking at this star through the telescopes along with other interesting stars, planets (Uranus, Jupiter) and deep sky objects.
Forecasts predicts snow and clouds until at least 12 am on Friday, so we may have to cancel. (Snow covers the entrance path and can fall off of the roll-off roof.) If it happens, bring warm clothes!
This event is cancelled (weather,snow).
NOTE: Why no event for Comet ISON?
Comet ISON should be in the news in November and December as a spectacular comet (if it isn't destroyed in its close pass by the Sun). However, it does not become viewable in the early evening until about Dec 21. Instead, throughout most of November and December it will be viewable in the East before sunrise.
Summer 2013 ScheduleBring your iphone to any event! We can help you take a picture of bright objects through the telescopes.
Monday, August 12, 9 -12 pm. --- "The Perseid Meteor Shower!" Done
Come to the ONU Observatory to see in the Perseid Meteor Shower. This is usually one of the best annual meteor showers in terms of numbers of meteors per hour. The local conditions will actually be the best after midnight as the constellation Perseus (containing the radiant of the shower) rises higher above the horizon and the Moon sets. We will have our telescopes trained on the Moon, Saturn, Venus, and other deep sky objects. Meteors are grains of cometary material entering the Earth's atmosphere at 10-80 kilometers per second. The Perseid meteors originated in the comet Swift-Tuttle which last visited the inner solar system in 1992.
Friday, May 31, 9:00 - 11:00 pm. --- "Tic-Tac-Toe 3 planets in a row" Public event. Done
Mercury, Venus and Jupiter will be above the NW horizon on this night. They were actually in their most compact arrangement (conjunction) on May 26 when each fit in a 2.5 degree circle. Tonight has the advantage that Mercury is higher above the horizon so far, on its way to a maximum elongation of 24 degrees. We will follow these planets using portable telescopes as they set and then focus our attention on Saturn, who continues to make a good showing in the SE sky.
Spring 2013 Schedule
NEW: bring your iphone to any event! We can help you take a picture of bright objects through the telescopes.
Friday, Feb 1, 8:00 - 10:00 pm. --- "Star formation in Orion." Public event. --Done
Friday, Feb 15, 8:00 - 10:00 pm. --- "Close call Friday: Near Earth Asteroids." Public event.-- Done
Friday, Mar 1, 8:00 - 10:00 pm. --- Jupiter and the Moon Public Event. -- Done
Friday, Mar 15, 7:45 - 10:00 pm. --- "Comet PanSTARRS: the first great comet of 2013?" Public Event. -- Done
Friday, Apr 5, 8:30 - 10:30 pm. --- "Galaxies of Spring" Public Event. -- Done
Friday, April 19, 8:30 - 10:30 pm. --- "Craters of the Moon" Public Event. (Moon just past 1st quarter.) -- Done
Friday, May 3, 9:00 - 11:00 pm --- "Saturn is back!" Public Event. (Saturn's opposition is on April 28.) -- Done
Fall 2012 ScheduleFriday, August 31, 8:00 - 10:00 pm. --- "Blue Moon" Public event --Done.
Friday, September 21, 8:00 - 10:00 pm. --- "Autumnal equinox" Public event --Done.
Friday, October 12, 8:00 - 10:00 pm. --- "Experience ONU Day" Public Event --Done.
>>If the skies are clear, we plan to track down a new Comet, Uranus, and deep sky objects like the Ring Nebula and the Andromeda Galaxy in our telescopes. Weather forecast (as of Fri afternoon) is for clear skies and 40-45 degrees F.
Friday, November 2, 8:00 - 10:00 pm. --- "Comet Hergenrother flies through Pegasus" Public Event --Done.
>> Tonight's featured target will be Comet 168/P Hergenrother which is well-placed for observing in the constellation of Pegasus. This comet has been brighter than expected and is sporting a short tail. We will also observe various deep sky objects, such as the Saturn Nebula and the Andromeda Galaxy. Later in the evening, the planet Jupiter will rise in the east, followed closely by the Moon.
Saturday, November 17, 8:00 - 10:00 pm. --- "Leonid Meteor Shower" Public Event --Done.
Tonight's event is chosen to coincide with the peak of the Leonid Meteor Shower. This annual shower has periodically produced "storms" of meteor activity, but tonight it is only expected to produce 10-15 meteors/hour for a given viewer. Meteors are also called "shooting stars". They are the sand-grain-sized debris of comets that enter the Earth's atmosphere so quickly that they create a bright streak of light. The Leonid meteors originated in the Comet Temple-Tuttle. We will also observe various deep sky objects, the crescent moon, and planets like Uranus and Jupiter.
The observatory will be closed if heavy clouds or precipitation are forecasted. Check this spot for cancellations (in red) on the afternoon before the event. If it is clear, dress warmly - the observation deck is not heated (although the bathrooms and control room are).
Friday, December 7, 8:00 - 10:00 pm. --- "Jupiter at its Brightest" Public Event --Done.
Jupiter recently passed through opposition on December 2. Opposition is the configuration in which a planet appears from Earth to be in the opposite direction as the Sun. This is also the time in which the planet looks the brightest to us because of its full phase and its proximity to the Earth. During tonight's event, Jupiter is still nearly optimal in appearance, and so we will keep it in at least one telescope all night. In two hours, the planet rotates 1/5 of a full revolution and we will watch for moving features like the Great Red Spot and shadows cast by its moons. The view to the unaided eye is also spectacular since Jupiter will be embedded in bright winter asterisms like the Pleiades and Orion, and less than 5 degrees from the orange star Aldebaran. We plan to keep a live Jupiter video feed on our wall TV for easy viewing. Other targets tonight may be the Great Orion Nebula, the Pleiades, and Uranus. If you've already seen these, feel free to request something new!
The ONU Observatory will be open to the public
on Friday, Aug 31, from 8:00 - 10:00 PM (EDT).
The theme of the event is "The Blue Moon",
since the Aug 31 full moon will be the second
full moon in August. A short presentation will
be given around 8:30 PM about the term "blue moon"
and explain that the full moon of Aug 31 does not
actually qualify as a blue moon under the
The full Moon will be rising dramatically in
the East after the Sun sets around 8:00.
A telescope will be used to project the Moon's
image onto a screen, while other telescopes
will be tracking other interesting objects in the sky.
Return to this web page on the afternoon of Aug 31 for possible cancellations due to the weather.
This event was, unfortunately, clouded out.
The ONU Astronomy Club will host an Open House at the observatory.
Incoming students, new and old, are invited to drop by. (Sign up
for the Astro Club while you're there!) The roof
will be rolled back for viewing the sky if the weather permits;
if it is cloudy, we will still be open for tours. But in the
case of heavy rain, we will cancel the tours.
Saturn and Mars will be low in the southwest after sunset.
The ONU Observatory will be open to the public on
Saturday evening the night of Aug 11-12 from 10:00 PM
to 1 AM to "see in" the annual Perseid Meteor shower.
The actual peak in shower activity should occur
on the night of Aug 12-13 this year, but the meteors (or
"shooting stars") are visible over 5 days before and after this
peak . The Moon will not be up to interfere with the viewing.
Perseid meteoroids are fragments of the comet 109P/Swift-Tuttle which are usually smaller than a pea. The meteors radiate away from the constellation Perseus, sometimes exhibiting colors and glowing trains.
One does not need a telescope to view the Perseids, but our roll-off roof observatory serves as a nice setting to view them. Also, the telescopes will be in operation so you can take a break from meteors to view planets or deep sky objects. You are encouraged to bring a lawnchair to set up on the fields next to the observatory. See you there!
Return to this web page on the afternoon of Aug 11 for possible cancellations due to the weather.
This event was held, but cloudcover increased steadily until viewing was impossible.
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