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See seasonal changes in the sky at free Observatory open house

November 9, 2016

KOKOMO, Ind. —  Changes in seasons will be evident to stargazers at the Indiana University Kokomo Observatory’s free open house Sunday, November 13.

“With fall passing in to winter, we will have the Andromeda galaxy and the color contrast double star gamma andromedae as highlights from the fall constellations,” said Patrick Motl, associate professor of physics. “The winter hexagon is just rising above the horizon at sunset to show the Pleiades and the Hyades star clusters, and the crab nebula that promise more to come as Orion rises later in the evening.”

Motl will begin the open house at 7 p.m. with a short discussion of NASA’s Juno mission to Jupiter. During the mission, the spacecraft will map the gravity and magnetic fields of the solar system’s largest planet, observe the composition and circulation of its deep atmosphere, and improve understanding of the forces that control its powerful aura. Juno launched in August 2011, and arrived at Jupiter in early July 2016. It is anticipated to complete its mission in February 2018.

After the discussion, those attending may view a nearly full moon, along with the planets Venus and Mars, through the Observatory’s telescopes, 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 continues through 9 p.m., weather permitting.

The open house is free and open to the public in the Observatory, 105 E. Rebecca Lane. Free parking is available on campus.

Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.

Last updated: 11/09/2016