KOKOMO, Ind. – Come and see the planet Mars up close and personal on Sunday, March 11, when the Indiana University Kokomo Observatory hosts its monthly open house, from 8 to 11 p.m.
Patrick Motl, assistant professor of physics, said Mars should easily be visible, as it passed through opposition on March 3, “which means it is as close to earth as it gets, and is also as bright and as large as it gets.”
Stargazers should see Mars, as well as Jupiter and Venus, in the sky that night.
Motl will begin the evening at 8 p.m. with a brief talk on shooting stars and meteor showers. He said there should be plenty for stargazers to see during the open house, weather permitting.
“Winter highlights like the Orion nebula are still prominent in the night sky, but spring constellations like Leo are rising in the east,” he said.
“The Leo triplet, a relatively nearby and compact group of galaxies, is one of several groups and clusters of galaxies visible as springtime deep sky objects.”
The Observatory at IU Kokomo features two telescopes mounted together – a six-inch Takahashi refracting telescope and a 16-inch Meade reflecting telescope. The Takahashi provides exceptionally sharp images of planets, while the Meade lets stargazers see fainter objects in the sky, due to its larger light collecting area.
The Kokomo Astronomy Club will also be present on Sunday to set up their own personal telescopes, which will allow for a variety of views.
The event is free and open to the public.
The Observatory, 105 E. Rebecca Lane, opens its doors to the Kokomo community on the second Sunday of each month. The next open house is scheduled for April 8. Free parking is available.
Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.