Open Night: Saturday, June 18

Image: Simulated view of Saturn.
Simulated view of Saturn and a few of its moons as they will appear June 18, 2016. Click for bigger view!

Stephens Memorial Observatory of Hiram College will be open for public observing Saturday, June 18, from 9:30 to 11:00 PM.

Beautiful ringed Saturn, planet Mars, Earth’s amazing Moon, and (if the Moon doesn’t interfere) the Ring Nebula will be the featured objects.

No reservations are required and there is no admission fee for observatory public nights. Cloudy skies at the starting time cancel the event and, in that case, the observatory will not open.
The Observatory is located on Wakefield Road (Rt. 82) less than a quarter of a mile west of Route 700 in Hiram. There is no parking at the Observatory or on nearby Peckham Avenue. Visitors may park on permissible side streets near the Post Office, a short distance east of the observatory.

More planets line up in our morning sky

Illustration: January 2016: Five Planets Visible in the Pre-Dawn Sky
January 2016: Five Planets Visible in the Pre-Dawn Sky

 

Over recent weeks we have watched as several planets have appeared close together in our morning sky — when clear, that is — and even seen them shift their positions as the days passed! Beginning this frigid week and continuing into mid-February, five of Earth’s Solar System siblings will be visible, spanning the southern sky. This is the first time since 2005 that this planetary lineup has occurred. If we get a break in morning cloud cover go out, just before dawn’s early light, and look for the planetary parade. Little Mercury will be the hardest to spot being both dim and close to the horizon. Venus and Jupiter will be easy as they are the brightest of the bunch. Golden Saturn and finally reddish Mars should also be easy to find though Mars isn’t a standout. The gathering will occur again late this summer and in the evening sky. The planets aren’t really very much closer together in space during this time. The chart below illustrates the current relative positions of the planets; it’s our point of view from Earth that makes creates the scene: something like watching racers on a race track, appearing closer and farther apart as they run laps in their concentric lanes.

Illustration: January 2016: Planetary Positions - Area Between Lines of Sight Illustrates Area of Space We See
January 2016: Planetary Positions – Area Between Lines of Sight Illustrates Area of Space We See