ONU Observatory Astrophoto Gallery Public Events
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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 2018 Schedule -- ONU Observatory

Sunday, Aug 19, 9:00-10:00 pm. -- ONU Student Event. "Welcomefest Open House"

Friday, Sept 7, 9:00-11:00 pm -- Public Event "Opposition of Neptune"
The ONU Observatory will be open to the public on Friday, Sept 7 from 9:00-11 pm, weather permitting. On this date, Neptune will be in opposition. ``Opposition" is the planetary configuration in which the planet appears in the opposite direction of the Sun from the Earth's perspective. It is also around the time of closest approach to the Earth, making the planet look bigger and brighter than average. (Neptune's closest approach is actually Sept 6.) Neptune is now the most distant of the planets in our solar system, although a planet IX is suspected to exist. Neptune can be seen through telescopes as a pale blue dot.
This event is cancelled due to clouds.

Friday, Sept 21, 8:00-10:00 pm -- Public Event "Autumnal Equinox"
The ONU Observatory will be open to the public on Friday, September 21 from 8-10 pm to observe the Autumnal Equinox, or the beginning of Fall. The precise time of the equinox is September 22, 9:54 pm EDT. However, the phenomena will be nearly the same on Sept 21. This is one of the two equinoxes (the other in March) when you expect to see length of night and day being nearly equal, and the Sun setting due West on the horizon. Dr. Pinkney will demonstrate, using a planetarium program, how the Sun crosses the celestial equator on Sept 22. Also, the planets Jupiter, Saturn, and Mars will be well positioned for observing with the telescopes.

Friday, Oct 12, 8:00-10:00 pm. -- Public Event. "Observe the crescent Moon"

Friday, Nov 9, 8:00-10:00 pm. -- Public Event. "Asteroids and OSIRIS-REx"

Friday, Dec 7, 8:00-10:00 pm. -- Public Event. "Comet Wirtanen"

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Summer 2018 Schedule -- ONU Observatory

M-W, June 11-13, 9:00-11:00 pm. -- Private Event. "Summer Academic Honors Institute (SAHI) -- Physics and Astronomy Camp"

Monday, June 18, 9:00-10:30 pm. -- Private Event. "The Ada Library Summer Reading Program - The Night Sky"

Monday, July 30, 9:30-11:00 pm. -- Public Event. "Opposition of Mars"
The ONU Observatory will be open to the public on Monday, July 30 from 9:30-11 pm, weather permitting. On this date, Mars will be 3 days passed its opposition. ``Opposition" is the planetary configuration in which the planet appears in the opposite direction as the Sun from the Earth's perspective. It is also the time of closest approach to the Earth, making Mars look bigger and brighter than usual. This will be the closest we've come to Mars since the 2003 opposition (but that was the closest in about 60,000 years). At 9:30 pm Mars will not quite be high enough to see with the telescopes, but we will observe Venus, Jupiter and Saturn as we wait for Mars to rise higher. (We chose July 30 instead of July 27 because the Full Moon interferes with our view of Mars on the 27th. )

Spring 2018 Schedule -- ONU Observatory

Friday, Feb 9, 7:00-9:00 pm. -- Public Event. "The International Space Station passes high"
The ONU Observatory will be open to the public on Friday, Feb 9 from 7-9 pm, weather permitting. On this evening, the ISS is scheduled to pass over Ohio at 7:49 pm such that it will reach 66 degrees above the horizon. That's only 24 degrees from the zenith! The ISS is the largest, manned, artificial satellite and so it will be about as bright as Venus, outshining all of the stars in the sky. That impressive sight only lasts a few minutes. The rest of the night, we will be observing deep-sky objects with the telescopes under a moonless sky.
This event was cancelled.

Friday, Feb 16, 8:00-10:00 pm. -- Public Event. "Starbirth: the Orion Nebula"
Ada and the surrounding communities are invited to the ONU Observatory on Friday, Feb 16 from 8-10 pm for "Starbirth: the Orion Nebula". It may seem like the stars are eternal, but they do eventually die out. They are also born hundreds (even thousands) 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 most rewarding nebulosities to target 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.
This event was cancelled.

Friday, Mar 9, 8:00-10:00 pm. -- Public Event. "Stardeath: supernovae and their remnants"
Ada and the surrounding communities are invited to the ONU Observatory on Friday, March 9 for "Stardeath: supernovae and their remnants". Stars meet their death in a variety of ways which depends mostly on their mass. The most massive stars end in spectacular explosions called supernovae. Those which occur in our Milky Way galaxy can outshine Venus for a month or more. They leave behind expanding gas clouds which glow faintly in visible wavelengths for thousands of years. It turns out that SNRs (supernova remnants) would seem much brighter if our eyes saw in radio or x-rays. We will take a look at a few SNRs that are visible in a telescope: the Crab Nebula and the Jellyfish Nebula. We may also glimpse the galaxy NGC 3941 currently undergoing a supernova. Low to middleweight stars like the Sun are not quite as explosive in death, but they still "puff out" their outer shells to form a beautiful "planetary nebula". We will also observe examples of these nebulae including the "Cat's Eye Nebula" and the "Little Dumbbell".
This event was a success.

NEW: astronomy-related event at ONU's Science Annex:

Saturday, Apr 7, 8:00-9:30 pm. -- Movie screening. "Wow signal"
There will be a free screening of the new documentary called "Wow signal" on April 7, 8-9:30 pm held in Science Annex 105. (The Science Annex is between Biggs Engineering and Meyer Hall.) The "Wow!" signal was a strong radio signal detected by the Big Ear radio telescope at Ohio State University in 1977. It remains an unsolved mystery and a leading candidate for a signal from extraterrestrials. (This is NOT being held at the observatory, but will be attended by the ONU Astronomy Club.)
Here is a link to the trailer.

Friday, Apr 13, 9:00-11:00 pm. -- Public Event. "Galaxies of Spring"
Ada and the surrounding communities are invited to the ONU Observatory on Friday, April 13 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 9:14 pm, the ISS will pass low in the sky to the SW. So come and witness the wonders of the deep sky as you learn about extragalactic astronomy!
This event was cancelled due to clouds.

Friday, Apr 20, 9:00-11:00 pm. -- Public Event. "Craters of the Moon"
The ONU Astronomy Club welcomes you to the ONU Observatory on Friday, April 20, 2018 for our "Craters of the Moon" event. Stop by any time between 9 and 11 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 double crater Messier, and Mare Tranquillitatus, where Apollo 11 landed. Other targets will include Venus, double stars and star clusters. See how people react when they see the Moon through a telescope for the first time here.
This event was a success.

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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.

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.

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!

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.

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.

Friday, Nov 24, 8:00-10:00 pm. -- Public Event. "Glimpse Mercury"
(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

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.

Go to Pinkney's Homepage
Go to ONU Physics
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