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Spring galaxies featured in final open house of spring semester

May 4, 2015
KOKOMO, Ind. — With no moon in the evening sky, Sunday’s Indiana University Kokomo Observatory Open House should provide a good night to view spring galaxies.

The final free open house of the spring semester begins at 8 p.m. May 10 in the Observatory, 105 E. Rebecca Lane.

“For the skies, we will have Venus and Jupiter at sunset and Saturn will be rising late in the evening to make its first appearance of the year for an open house,” said Patrick Motl, associate professor of physics. “If the weather permits, and without a moon in the evening sky, we will have a good night to view spring galaxies in Leo and Virgo.”

Saturn's rings will be tilted 24 degrees to our line of sight during May. Its largest moon, Titan, will be visible in any telescope. Venus will dominate the evening sky in May, so bright that it will be easy to see high in the west at sunset. It will shine in the west-northwest long after dark. Jupiter will be highest in the west in early evening, the best time to view it with a telescope. Mercury will have one of its best appearances of the year at the beginning of May for observers at mid-northern latitudes.

Motl will begin the evening with a presentation on the New Horizons mission that will be making its closest approach to Pluto in a few months.

“This mission holds the record currently for the fastest spacecraft, and will be the first visit to the dwarf planet Pluto,” he said.

The Observatory’s telescopes are a six-inch Takahashi refracting telescope and a 16-inch Meade reflecting telescope mounted together. The Takahashi provides exceptionally sharp images of planets, while the Meade allows viewers to see fainter objects in the sky, due to its larger light collecting area.

Observation will continue until 10 p.m., weather permitting. The open house is free and open to the public in the Observatory. Free parking is available on campus.

The next fee observatory open house will be in September.

Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.

Last updated: 05/05/2015