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Public Events at the ONU Observatory

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The ONU Observatory holds public events in order to share astronomy with the surrounding communities. The events on the Schedule below marked "Public Event" are free and open to the public! More information will be given as the date approaches. Note: these events are subject to cancellation when the weather is poor, or equipment needs repair. Please watch inside the schedule for cancellations in red which will be posted by 2:30 pm on the day of the event.
Cross your fingers for good weather. We'll leave the light off for ya!

Fall 2017 Schedule

Sunday, Aug 20, 8:30-9:30 pm -- ONU event. "Welcomefest Open House"

Monday, Aug 21, 1:30-3:30 pm -- Public Event. "The Great American Eclipse"
See the description below under "Summer 2017". Our telescopic views of the partially eclipsed Sun were a hit until the clouds rolled in.
This was a huge event!

Friday, Sept 15, 9:00-11:00 pm -- Public Event "Cassini's final plunge into Saturn"
The Cassini-Huygens planetary orbiter and probe departed on its mission to Saturn on October 15, 1997. Twenty years later it is about to end its mission in spectacular fashion by burning up in Saturn's atmosphere. It's "Grand Finale" will be on September 15. The Cassini mission has been a huge success, providing beautiful images of its moons and rings. Although Cassini will not be visible in our telescopes, Saturn, along with its rings and moons, will be! If you have never seen Saturn live through a telescope, you are in for a treat.
This event was a success.

Friday, Sept 22, 8:00-10:00 pm -- Public Event "Autumnal Equinox"
On Friday, Sept 22, the ONU Observatory will have a public star party to celebrate the autumnal equinox, the astronomical start of fall. On this day, which can also fall on early Sept 23, the Earth's equatorial plane intersects the Sun. Consequently, we experience approximately equal durations of nighttime and daytime ("equi-nox" means equal night). Also, the Sun rises due East and sets due West on this day. So check out how your favorite streets are aligned at sunset and then head over to the Observatory. We'll be targetting the setting Moon, Saturn, Uranus, and deep sky objects. Now nighttimes are rapidly getting longer - good news for star gazers!
This event was a success.

Friday, Oct 20, 8:00-10:00 pm. -- Public Event. "The Orionid Meteors and Comet C/2017 O1"
The ONU Observatory will be open to the public on Friday, October 20, from 8-10 pm. The event is called "The Orionid Meteors and Comet C/2017 O1". The Orionid meteor shower is an annual shower which will peak after midnight of October 20 when there will be about 20 meteors per hour under optimum conditions. A visitor will not experience optimum conditions, but may still notice a few meteors streaming out of Orion. Telescopes do not help you to tally more meteors, but they do help you see ... comets! And there is a comet, "C/2017 O1 ASASSN", that will be in the northern sky Friday night. It is a challenge to see, even through a telescope, so we will display an image on a TV screen. The name comes from the All Sky Automated Survey for SuperNovae, run by OSU. Meteors are often mistakenly referred to as "comets". In fact, meteors are tiny fragments shed by comets that are "burning up" in Earth's atmosphere. The Orionid meteors actually originate in the famous Comet Halley.
This event was a success.

Friday, Nov 17, 8:00-10:00 pm. -- Public Event. "Leonid Meteor Shower"
Weather allowing, the ONU Observatory will be open to the public on Friday, November 17, from 8-10 pm. The event is called "The Leonid Meteor Shower". This shower is strongest on the mornings of Nov 17 and 18 every year. It is famous for its occasional outbursts, called "meteor storms" roughly every 33 years. The last Leonid storm was in 2001 which produced thousands of meteors per hour. The strongest showing known was in 1833, when about 100,000 meteors fell per hour. So we don't expect much from the 2017 storm, perhaps 15 meteors per hour, but there are other reasons to watch the sky on this night. The Taurid meteor shower overlaps the Leonids producing fewer meteors but more fireballs (very bright meteors) and distinctly slower meteors. In addition, the planets Neptune and Uranus will be up, along with loads of deep sky objects.
This event is cancelled.

Friday, Nov 24, 8:00-10:00 pm. -- Public Event. "Glimpse Mercury"
This event is cancelled.
(Not enough astro club helpers will be available close to Thanksgiving. Also, Mercury sets too early.)

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Summer 2017 Schedule

Monday, Aug 21, 1:30-3:30 pm. -- Public Event. "The Great American Eclipse"
The ONU Observatory will be open to the public from 1:30-3:30 pm to observe the solar eclipse. We will not experience totality from Ada, but the Sun will be covered up to 85%. It is not safe to stare directly at the Sun when it is 85% covered by the Moon, but we will have several ways to safely observe this event. These will include the standard "eclipse glasses" and pinhole projection viewers. We will also have at least 3 telescopes with solar filters providing much higher resolution. These can reveal sunspots and prominances on the Sun. For viewers in Ada, the Moon makes its first contact around 1:03 pm, reaches maximum eclipse around 2:28 pm, and its last contact is around 3:50 pm. Thus, the Sun will be partially blocked during the entire scheduled event.
Solar eclipse pic

Spring 2017 Schedule

Friday, Jan 27, 8:00-10:00 pm. -- Public Event. "The ISS flies by Mars and Venus"
The ONU Observatory will be open to the public from 8 - 10 pm on Friday, January 27, 2017 for our first event of the Spring semester. It is entitled "The ISS flies by Mars and Venus". Around 8:24 pm, EST, the ISS (International Space Station) will rise in the southwest and pass by Venus and Mars as seen from Ada, OH. The brightness of the ISS will only be rivaled by Venus. After that passage, we will observe Mars and Venus as well as deep sky objects using our many telescopes.

Friday, Feb 17, 8:00-10:00 pm. -- Public Event. "Brilliant Venus"
The ONU Observatory will be open to the public from 8 - 10 pm on Friday, February 17, 2017 for our "Brilliant Venus" event. Have you noticed Venus getting brighter in the western sky after sunset? It reaches its "maximum brilliancy" on Feb 16, and we will be celebrating this on our Friday public event. Venus will greatly outshine nearby Mars and Uranus. Through the telescope, you will discern it's crescent phase. Maximum brilliancy is the moment when the illuminated part of Venus presents to us the largest solid angle (an angular area). This actually occurs a little while after the date of maximum brightness, and before Venus is closest to the Earth. At any rate, Venus is cool ... or rather, hot! At 860 degrees F, it is hot enough to melt lead and its clouds contain sulfuric acid. In addition to viewing Venus, Mars and Uranus, we can observe deep sky objects like the Great Orion Nebula without interference by moonlight.

Friday, Mar 3, 8:00-10:00 pm. -- Public Event.  "Craters and Maria of the Moon"
The ONU Astronomy Club welcomes you to the ONU Observatory on Friday, March 3, 2017 for our "Craters and Maria of the Moon" event. Stop by any time between 8 and 10 pm to look through our telescopes or ask questions about the night sky. On this night, the crescent Moon will be high in the southwest, well placed for viewing. The phase is a good one for seeing interesting lunar features such as the Posidonius Crater with its fissures, and Mare Tranquillitatus, where Apollo 11 landed. Other targets will include Venus, Mars and deep sky objects.

Friday, Mar 17, 9:00-11:00 pm. -- Public Event. "Star Formation in Orion"

Ada and the surrounding communities are invited to the ONU Observatory on Friday, March 17 from 9-11 pm for "Star Formation in Orion". It may seem like the stars are eternal, but they do eventually die out. They are also born hundreds at a time out of giant clouds of gas and dust. One of the most frequently studied and nearby "stellar nurseries" is in the constellation Orion. It is called the "Orion Nebula" and it is one of the easiest nebulosities to see with a telescope. The Orion Nebula will be well-placed in the sky for observing during our event. There will also be a short presentation about star formation showing beautiful images of the Orion Nebula and other sites of star formation.

Friday, Mar 31, 9:00-11:00 pm. -- Public Event.  "Glimpse Mercury"-> "Comet Pours from Big Dipper"

The ONU Observatory will be open to the public from 9 - 11 pm on Friday, March 31. This event was originally meant to highlight Mercury, which is near its greatest eastern elongation away from the Sun. However, a periodic comet called 41P/Tuttle-Giacobini-Kresak has come to steal the show. It is just a little under the naked eye limit but easily seen in a telescope. At its closest on Apr 1 (no fooling), the comet will be unusually close to the Earth: 14% of the Earth-Sun distance. It will be positioned in the constellation Ursa Major and flying out of the cup of the Big Dipper asterism. Also available for viewing will be the crescent Moon and the Great Orion Nebula.

Friday, Apr 7, 9:00-11:00 pm. -- Public Event. "Jupiter at opposition"

The ONU Astronomy Club hosts a free astronomy event on Friday, April 7 from 9-11 pm. The main attraction will be Jupiter which reaches opposition on this day. Opposition is when superior planets (Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, etc), are seen in the opposite direction as the Sun from the Earth's perspective. That is, the Earth is located directly in-between the Sun and that planet. This is a great time to look at the planet since it is as close to us as it gets. Jupiter will rise around 9 pm in the constellation Virgo and reach an altitude of 10 degrees by 9:40 pm, EDT. A nearly-full Moon will be nearby in the constellation Leo. Weather permitting, it should be a good night to enjoy some of the brighter celestial objects!
Extra: the ONU Observatory has a new, improved mount for it's largest telescope.

Friday, Apr 21, 9:00-11:00 pm. -- Public Event.  "Galaxies of Spring"

Ada and the surrounding communities are invited to the ONU Observatory on Friday, April 21 from 9-11 pm for "The Galaxies of Spring". Galaxies are a swirling collection of stars, gas, dust, and dark matter. They are generally difficult to see with telescopes because they are so far away and faint. During this time of the year, however, the closest concentrations of galaxies are positioned high in the sky by midnight. We will be targeting such galaxies as M66 in Leo and the "Black eye galaxy" in Coma Berenices for observation with the telescopes. By sheer luck, at 9:47 pm, an Iridium satellite is scheduled to flare brightly just as it passes into Coma Berenices; a dot as bright as Venus will momentarily mark our Milky Way's North Galactic Pole! So come and witness the wonders of the deep sky as you learn about extragalactic astronomy!

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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
Office: 419-772-2740
Observatory: 419-772-4028

See maps to the ONU Observatory.
Check the weather at ONU Observatory: Clear Sky Chart.
See the Observatory's Astrophoto gallery.

Information for visitors to the ONU Observatory:

See Archive of previous Astronomy Events at ONU.

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