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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!

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 is cancelled due to a cloudy forecast.

Friday, Mar 9, 8:00-10:00 pm. -- Public Event. "Stardeath: supernovae and their remnants"

Friday, Apr 13, 9:00-11:00 pm. -- Public Event. "Galaxies of Spring"

Friday, Apr 20, 9:00-11:00 pm. -- Public Event. "Craters of the Moon"

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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.

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