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September 22, 2020

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Star-gazing at the ONU Observatory this spring

The Ohio Northern University Observatory will be open to the public for a number of events this spring, according to Dr. Jason Pinkley, professor of physics and astronomy at ONU. These follow:

Friday, Feb. 14, 7--9- p.m. - "Venus, Goddess of Love": Cuddle up with your significant other under starry skies to see Venus, the most prominent planet in the evening sky.

Friday, Feb. 28, 8-10- p.m. - "Leap Days and Time": Celebrate Leap Day under a starlit sky and learn about how our calendar is linked to the starry sky.

Friday, March 6, 8-10- p.m. - "Moon in the Beehive": According to Dr. Pinkney, “the moon will be passing through the "Beehive cluster" in Cancer this evening.  We'll take on the challenge of seeing the stars, despite the bright moon being nearby.” 

Friday, March 20, 8:30-10:30 p.m. -  "The Vernal Equinox": Also known as the start of spring, where the length between night and day is (nearly) equal. Using a planetarium program, Dr. Pinkney will demonstrate learn more about equinoxes and how the Sun crosses the celestial equator.

Friday, March 27, 9-11- p.m. - "Venus at Greatest Elongation": This is “when Venus is separated from the Sun by the largest angle,” according to Dr. Pinkney. “Early geocentric astronomers like Kepler and Copernicus would use this angle to figure out the size of Venus' orbit relative to the Earth's.  The actual date of Greatest Elongation East is March 24, but the elongation will look about the same on the 27th.”

Friday, April 17, 9-11- p.m. - "Comet C/2017 T2 PANSTARRS": Ever wanted to see a comet? Comet C/2017 T2 PANSTARRS cannot be seen with the naked eye, but it is expected to be the brightest comet of the spring, viewed through a telescope.

Friday, April 24, 9-11- p.m. - "Galaxies of Spring": April is a “good month” for viewing galaxies, according to Dr. Pinkney. “The nearest cluster of galaxies is the Virgo Cluster and it transits (crosses a line passing through due South and the point overhead) around midnight around April 15.  Other bright galaxies are in Leo and Ursa Major.”

Please note, you can arrive anytime during the scheduled event; there is usually no advantage to being early. If there is a presentation, these will occur in the middle of the event.

These events are contingent on the weather and will be cancelled if the expected cloud cover is over 50 percent. Check the webpage after 2 p.m. on the day of the event for cancellations.

During the winter months, the observing room gets cold, so dress warmly.