Public Events at the ONU Observatory
Fall 2015 ScheduleSunday, August 23, 8:30-10:30 pm. -- ONU event. "Welcomefest - Astronomy Club Open House"
Friday, Sept 4, 8:30-10:30 pm. -- Public Event. "Saturn and Mercury setting early"
On Friday, September 4, the ONU Observatory will be open to the public from 8:30-10:30 pm for our first event of the Fall. We will be trying to get views of Saturn and Mercury before they are gone for the Fall. First, Saturn is normally an easy target, but will be rather low in the southwestern sky and become out of reach by about 10:20 pm. It will be out of reach in the months to come, so come to this event if you have never seen the rings of Saturn! Second, Mercury happens to be in its "greatest eastern elongation" configuration on September 4. This means it appears far (27.1 degrees) from the Sun. However, its direction from the Sun puts it right near the horizon at the start of the event. Fortunately, blue Neptune will be a better sport than Mercury. It had it's opposition on September 1, so it rises early in the evening and will be observable by 9:15 pm.
This event was CANCELLED due to clouds and rain.
Sunday, Sept 27, 9:00-11:00 pm. -- Public Event. "Total Lunar Eclipse"
Come by the ONU Observatory between 9 and 11 pm on Sunday, September 27 to enjoy the Total Lunar Eclipse! This is when the shadow of the Earth covers the Moon. The Moon will appear coppery orange because of the light it still receives through the Earth's atmosphere. This will also be a "supermoon" because the Moon will be close to the Earth. The Moon first contacts the umbra (the dark part of Earth's shadow) at 9:07 pm. It will be completely emerged from 10:11-11:23 pm, with maximum eclipse at 10:47 pm, and will finally exit the umbra at 12:27 am. (We will not be open until the end of totality.) Although the event can be seen with the naked eye, we will also be looking at other targets with our telescopes, such as Uranus and Neptune.
This event was a success despite clouds!
Friday, Oct 9, 8:00-10:00 pm. -- Public Event. "Tears from the Dragon"
ONU Physics and Astronomy present "Tears from the Dragon". The ONU Observatory will be open from 8-10 pm to celebrate an interesting meteor shower. The Draconid meteor shower peaks on Oct 9 and appears to emanate from the head of Draco, the dragon. Its hourly rate is notoriously fickle: less than 10 per hour on most years, but on some years (1933, 1946, and 2011) the rate soared to 6000 meteors per hour. This shower occurs because the Earth crosses the orbital path of Comet 21P/Giacobini-Zinner. Unlike most showers, the Draconids tend to be strongest before midnight. The Moon is also working in our favour since it rises after midnight as a waning crescent.
Even if the Draconids don't produce a show, the Orionids (lasting Oct 4 - Nov 14) will also contribute occasional meteors (or "falling stars") to the display. Plus, we will train our telescopes on Uranus, which is closest to Earth on October 11, along with other star clusters and galaxies. (The originally scheduled "Comet Catalina Brightens" is postponed for a later date.)
This event was CANCELLED due to clouds.
Friday, Oct 16, 8:00-10:00 pm. -- Public Event. "The Andromeda Galaxy"
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 a thin crescent next to Saturn and setting in the west around 8:50 pm. Without the moonlight, the visibility of Andromeda (and a host of other deep sky objects) will improve. Expect some meteors from the Orionid meteor shower, which peaks on October 21. In addition, Uranus and Neptune will be available for viewing.
Watch this web page for cancellations on Friday afternoon in the event of a cloudy forecast.
The event went well.
Note: On the morning of Wednesday, October 28, there will be a triple conjunction of Venus, Jupiter, and Mars in the eastern sky. The three planets will form a tight, 1-degree triangle. There will be no observatory event for this, but it is an easy event to enjoy with the naked eye.
Friday, October 30, 8:00-10:00 pm. -- Public Event. "Halloween and the Moon"
On Friday, October 30, 8-10 pm, ONU Physics and Astronomy invites you to our special observance of "Halloween and the Moon". The word "lunacy" comes from an old superstition that the full Moon causes crazy behavior in people (AKA "lunatics"). Although technically 3 days past full, this Friday's Moon will still rise in the East big and bright enough to raise some goosebumps. Visitors are more than justified in wearing a costume to this event: we will give candy and glow products to those who dress up!
The most exciting space phenomenon occurring this Friday is the passage of a 400 meter wide asteroid called 2015 TB125. It will be at closest approach (a little over 300,000 miles) on 1 pm EDT on October 31. Unfortunately, it will not be viewable by telescope until after midnight, but we will display it's current position on a monitor. This body poses no threat to us. What makes it "scary" is that it wasn't discovered until October 20, 2015 -- what other undiscovered meteoroids could now be on a collision course with Earth? (Insert your maniacal laugh here.)
In addition to the Moon, we will be pointing telescopes at Neptune and Uranus, double stars and deep sky objects. Meteors from the upcoming Taurid or the fading Orionid meteor showers may also be seen by the lucky visitor as they stand listening to our sci-fi/horror movie trailers.
The event was held despite cloudy skies. We watched a laser light show and movies on a new projector screen.
Friday, November 13, 8:00-10:00 pm. -- Public Event. "What we've learned of Pluto."
The ONU Astronomy Club invites everyone to attend the next event at the ONU Observatory. To celebrate the success of the "New Horizons" spacecraft reaching Pluto, there will be a 15 minute presentation of "What we have learned about Pluto". Starting around 9 pm, Dr. Pinkney will show the images from New Horizons which far surpass the previous best images from Hubble. Pluto is too faint to be seen through our telescopes, so we will be targetting Uranus, Neptune, deep sky objects, and the comet C/2014 S2 PANSTARRS. In addition, two meteor showers will be occurring: the Taurids (which produces occasional bright "fireballs") and the Leonids (which peaks the night of Nov 17). So whether your looking through the eyepiece or directly at the sky, some impressive views await you.
This event is CANCELLED due to strong winds and clouds.
Friday, December 11, 8:00-10:00 pm. -- Public Event. "The Geminid Meteor Shower"
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Arrange a tour or visit?We encourage your K-12 students and other organizations to visit during the Public Events listed above. However, you may be able to schedule a special visit. We can comfortably fit about 60 people in the observing room. Bigger groups can still attend. During the daytime, we will show you the building and telescopes and, if clear, can view the Sun! We don't roll back the roof if there is precipitation. If interested, contact the Observatory Manager:
Dr. Jason Pinkney
ONU Dept of Physics and Astronomy
525 S. Main St., Ada, OH, 45810