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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 2021 Schedule -- ONU Observatory

Sunday, Aug 22, 8:30-9:30 pm. -- ONU Event. "Welcomefest Meet-n-greet"

Friday, Sept 24, 8:30-10:30 pm. -- ONU Event. "Jupiter and Saturn put on a show"
The gas giant planets Jupiter and Saturn are conveniently placed in the South-southeast for viewing with our telescopes. We will also take a look at Neptune which recently passed opposition.
The transmission rates of covid are high so this will be an ONU-only event.
This event was a success - Jupiter and Saturn did put on a show!

Friday, Oct 8, 8:00-10:00 pm.  -- ONU Event.  "Draconid meteor shower"
Meteor showers occur when the Earth passes through a trail of debris left by a comet. The Draconid meteor shower has particles originating in the Giacobini-Zinner comet. They appear to stream out of a point in the constellation Draco, hence the name. Usually this meteor shower produces fewer than 10 meteors per hour, but on certain years (1933, 1946, 2012) it had outbursts of up to 1000 meteors per hour. You wouldn't want to miss a meteor STORM!
The transmission rates of covid are high, and county vaccination rates less than 33%, so this will be an ONU-only event.
This event is cancelled due to a forecast of clouds and rain.

Friday, Oct 29, 8:00-10:00 pm. -- ONU Event. "Venus - high and bright"
This star party is scheduled close to the "greatest eastern elongation" of Venus. That is when Venus appears at its largest angular distance from the Sun, about 46 degrees. Venus looks impressively bright and is the brightest of the planets. Through the telescope, it should exhibit a "first quarter" phase.
When the 7-day average of new covid cases drops back down to 1 per day (the July 2021 rate), then I will consider opening to the public.
This event is cancelled due to a forecast of clouds and rain.

Friday, Dec 3, 8:00-10:00 pm. -- ONU Event. "Deep sky comets"
Comets may be in the news during December because Comet C/2021 A1 (Leonard) is expected to become visible to the naked-eye in December. Unfortunately, it will be a morning object and not visible from 8-10 pm on December 3. However, on any given night, there are usually over a dozen "deep sky" comets detectable by cameras on amateur-sized telescopes. We've identified two such comets for which we may be able to obtain and display live images. (These are Comet 29P/ Schwassman-Wachmann and Comet C/2019 L3 ATLAS.) We can also look at brighter stars and planets that are up. Good sky conditions are required to see the comets. A cancellation notice will appear here by 1 pm on December 3 if the forecast is too cloudy.
This event was a success! Started cloudy but got better.
When the 7-day average of new covid cases drops back down to 1 per day (the July 2021 rate), then I will consider opening to the public.

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Fall 2020 Schedule -- ONU Observatory

Regretfully, the ONU Observatory will not be hosting public events in the foreseeable future until the covid-19 virus is under control.

Spring 2020 Schedule -- ONU Observatory

Friday, Feb 14, 7:00-8:00 pm. -- Public Event. "Venus, Goddess of Love"
It's Valentine's day! So what better time to look at the love-related objects in astronomy. The planet Venus is named after the Roman Goddess of love and it is an easy target for our telescopes during evenings this spring. This night also happens to be the Greatest Elongation of Mercury, but it will be almost set at 7 pm. Continuing the Valentine's theme, we can look for more challenging deep sky objects like the Heart Nebula and the Heart-shaped Cluster (Messier 50). It turns out that dozens of heart shaped features have been discovered on other planets, like Mars, although they are not quite visible from ground-based telescopes.
Check back here on Friday at 2 pm for possible cancellations.
Hearts on Mars There are over ten heart shaped features on Mars alone: check out this collage by NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team.

Friday, Feb 28, 8:00-10:00 pm. -- Public Event. "Leap Days and Time"
ONU and the surrounding community are invited to drop by the ONU Observatory between 8:00-10:00 pm this Friday night. Dr. Pinkney plans to give a short presentation about "Leap Days and Time" at 9 pm. This year, 2020, is a leap year which means that the calendar will include a "Feb 29" for the first time in 4 years. Why do we do this and how long have we been doing it? Our telescopic targets will include Venus and the Moon, which will be separated by only 14 degrees. Uranus is midway between them. The winter Milky Way with its many interesting deep sky objects will also be well placed in the sky.
The forecast is currently calling for partly cloudy and cold (20 F) weather. We will announce any cancellations by Friday by 2:30.

Friday, Mar 6, 8:00-10:00 pm. -- Public Event. "Moon in the Beehive"
Buzz by the ONU Observatory on Friday, Mar 6, between 8 and 10 pm for a star party called "Moon in the Beehive". The name refers to the way the Moon will have just passed through the Beehive star cluster in the constellation Cancer. Tonight we'll take on the challenge of spotting and photographing the faint but large star cluster with a bright Moon nearby. The bright Moon itself will be a target of observation. It will be in a gibbous phase (between half and full), with the crater Aristarchus near the terminator line. We can also observe double stars and brighter objects in the winter Milky Way like the Orion Nebula.
Mar 6 update: it may be a good night to see lunar halos (because of the layer of haze expected), but not much else.

Friday, Mar 20, 8:30-10:30 pm. -- Public Event. "The Vernal Equinox"

Friday, Mar 27, 9:00-11:00 pm. -- Public Event. "Venus at Greatest Elongation"

Friday, Apr 17, 9:00-11:00 pm. -- Public Event. "Comet C/2017 T2 PANSTARRS"

Friday, Apr 24, 9:00-11:00 pm. -- Public Event. "Galaxies of Spring"

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Fall 2019 Schedule -- ONU Observatory

Sunday, Aug 25, 8:30-9:30 pm. -- ONU Event. "Welcomefest Meet-n-greet"

Friday, Sept 20, 9:00-11:00 pm. -- Public Event. "Fall Star Party"

Friday, Oct 4, 8:00-10:00 pm. -- Public Event. "Moon between Saturn and Jupiter"

Friday, Oct 25, 8:00-10:00 pm. -- Public Event. "Blue planets in opposition"

Monday, Nov 11, 10:00am -12:00 pm. -- Daytime Public Event. "The transit of Mercury across the Sun"

Spring 2019 Schedule -- ONU Observatory

Friday, Feb 1, 8:00-10:00 pm. -- Public Event. "The Fading Comets of 2019"

Friday, Mar 1, 7:00-9:00 pm. -- Public Event. "Greatest elongation of Mercury"

Friday, Mar 22, 9:00-11:00 pm. -- Public Event. "Vernal Equinox"

Friday, Mar 29, 9:00-11:00 pm. -- Public Event. "Supernovae and their remnants"

Friday, Apr 5, 9:00-11:00 pm. -- Public Event. "Galaxies of Spring"

Friday, May 3, 9:00-11:00 pm. -- Public Event. "Eta Aquariid Meteors"

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"

Friday, Sept 21, 8:00-10:00 pm -- Public Event "Autumnal Equinox"

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"

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. )

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
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