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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!

Summer 2016

There are no public observatory events scheduled for the summmer. We will have some private viewings for ONU summer programs and other community organizations. Generally, only if there is a special celestial event, like an eclipse, will we schedule a public event during the summer.

Spring 2016 Schedule


Friday, Feb 5, 8:00-10:00 pm. - Public Event. "Comet C/2013 US10 Catalina"

The ONU Astronomy Club will be hosting an Astronomy event for the public at ONU Observatory on Friday, Feb 5, from 8:00-10:00 PM. The main attraction is “Comet C/2013 US10 Catalina”. This is the brightest comet in the sky at this time. It is easy to see in a telescope, but not quite bright enough to see with the unaided eye. Comets have a nucleus made of mostly water ice, dark organic minerals and other frozen gases. The nucleus of Comet Catalina is estimated to be 4-20 km across, and so is too small to resolve. However, when comets approach the Sun the surface ices turn into gases and they form a huge coma (halo) and tails. This comet is one of many objects discovered by the Catalina Sky Survey , hence the name. Other targets for this evening include the Great Orion Nebula and Jupiter.
This event was CANCELLED.

Friday, Feb 12, 8:00-10:00 pm. - Public Event. "Where Have the Bright Planets Gone?"
The ONU Astronomy Club will be hosting an Astronomy event for the public at ONU Observatory on Friday, Feb 12, from 8:00-10:00 PM. The event is called "Where Have the Bright Planets Gone?". This is referring to the absence of bright planets in the early evening sky. Most "earlybirds" know the answer to the question: the planets are visible just before sunrise! Between Jan 28 and Feb 6, the Moon joined the morning planets, passing successively by Jupiter, Mars, Saturn, Venus and Mercury. Moreover, the planets were all in a line. Is this a rare occurrence? Is it a "harmonic convergence" that will cause a dangerous imbalance in gravity? No. The planets orbit the Sun in about the same orbital plane as the Earth, so it is normal for them to appear on a line. Also, the planets will "gang up" on one side of the sky every few decades or so. The 5 visible planets were all above the horizon back in 2005, and in 1962, they were all within 17 degrees of each other along with the Sun and the Moon.

So what to observe on Feb 12? The Moon will be a crescent close to Uranus in the Western sky. We can also look at the deep sky objects of the winter Milky Way, like the wispy Great Orion Nebula. By 9:15, massive Jupiter will have risen high enough to view. Finally, we can still get a look at Comet Catalina as it flies away from the Earth and Sun.

This event was CANCELLED.

Note: We will not hold a special event for the viewing of the planets in the morning sky. But we encourage you to get up 1 hour before sunrise between Jan 20 and Feb 15 to see all 5 bright planets in the sky at once!


Friday, Mar 11, 9:00-11:00 pm. -- Public Event.  "Jupiter's Shrinking Red Spot"
The ONU Astronomy Club will be hosting an Astronomy event for the public at ONU Observatory on Friday, March 11, from 9:00-11:00 PM. The main attraction is Jupiter, the biggest planet in the solar system. Jupiter makes its closest approach to the Earth this year on March 8, so it looks especially big and bright in the sky. It is famous for its Great Red Spot (GRS), a giant, anti-cyclonic storm in its southern hemisphere that has lasted for well over one hundreds years. Astronomers have noted for nearly as long that the spot has been shrinking. It used to be 3 Earth's across and now it is only two. Also, it become more deep red in color in 2014. If the shrinking continues at recent rates, it will be gone in 50 years! Come and see Jupiter live through the eyepiece and on the TV with our live webcam feed. (And we have enough telescopes to look at other objects as well.) A brief slide presentation about Jupiter is planned for 10 pm.

This event was a success.


Friday, Apr 1, 9:00-11:00 pm. -- Public Event.  "Galaxies of Spring"
Visit the ONU Observatory on Friday, April 1, between 9 and 11 pm for the "Galaxies of Spring", a free, public event. This time of spring is ideal for the observation of galaxies. The most nearby groupings of galaxies, like the Virgo Cluster and the Leo Group, are conveniently placed in the sky during the night. Galaxies are relatively faint, so it is good that the Moon will be below the horizon during the event. A Powerpoint presentation will be given about galaxies. Despite the galaxy theme, we will also observe some brighter deep sky objects and the planet Jupiter.
This event was CANCELLED.


Friday, Apr 15, 9:00-11:00 pm. -- Public Event.  "Craters and Maria of the Moon"
The ONU Astronomy Club will be hosting "Craters and Maria of the Moon" on Friday, April 15, from 9-11 pm at the ONU Observatory. This event is free and open to the public. The main attraction will be the Moon, just past first quarter in its waxing gibbous phase. Sure, anyone can look up and see the Moon, but a telescope reveals a great deal of fascinating detail. Come and see the highlands, the lowlands, rilles, mountains, and a huge variety of craters. You might learn a thing or two, like that "Maria" isn't just a song from West Side Story. It's also the plural of "mare" which is latin for "sea". There are no large bodies of water on the Moon, but the giant, old craters that filled in with dark basalt look like oceans. Jupiter and its "Galilean Moons" will also be prime targets.
This event was a success.

Monday, May 9,  9:00-11:00 AM. -- Public Event.  "Mercury transits the Sun! (7:15am-2:30 pm)"
On Monday, May 9, the ONU Observatory will be open to the public from 9:00 to 11:00 am to view the transit of Mercury across the Sun. This is when Mercury travels between the Earth and Sun (inferior conjunction) so that it appears as a tiny, dark dot on the Sun. We have several ways to view the Sun without hurting our eyes, including a new, specialized solar telescope that utilizes a red, narrowband filter. The views of the Sun alone are worth the trip, but a transit is a somewhat rare event. The last Mercury transit was in 2006 and the next will be in 2019. Mercury transits occur only in May and November, with November transits twice as frequent. The May transits are easier to observe since Mercury appears a little larger (12 vs 10 arcseconds), and the transit tends to last longer. The next May transit is in 2049!
If the weather threatens to be excessively cloudy, we will post a cancellation by Sunday evening, May 8, 9 pm.

Our event was clouded out. Hope you saw it online!

Printer-friendly version here.



Fall 2015 Schedule

Sunday, 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"

Sunday, Sept 27, 9:00-11:00 pm. -- Public Event. "Total Lunar Eclipse"

Friday, Oct 9, 8:00-10:00 pm. -- Public Event.  "Tears from the Dragon"

Friday, Oct 16, 8:00-10:00 pm. -- Public Event.  "The Andromeda Galaxy"

Friday, November 13, 8:00-10:00 pm. -- Public Event. "What we've learned of Pluto."

Friday, December 11,  8:00-10:00 pm. -- Public Event.  "The Geminid Meteor Shower"



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
j-pinkney@onu.edu
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
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