09 May 2012
KOKOMO, Ind. – Stargazers can get a closer look at three planets on Sunday, May 13, when the Indiana University Kokomo Observatory hosts its monthly open house, from 8 to 11 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.
Patrick Motl, assistant professor of physics, said with the moon rising later in the evening, there should be good views of Venus, Mars, and Saturn during the open house.
"We will be losing Jupiter as a nighttime object, but gaining Saturn," he said, adding that Venus is heading for its transit in June. During this rare alignment, Venus passes directly between the earth and the sun, and can be seen as a small dot gliding slowly across the face of the sun.
Motl will begin the evening at 8 p.m. with a brief talk on the transit of Venus, which explorers in the past used in an attempt to measure the size of the solar system and objects beyond.
He plans to have the observatory open afternoon hours on Tuesday, June 5, for people to see the transit, which is a once-in-a-lifetime event.
"The next one is in 2117, so I'm not so optimistic to plan on seeing that one," Motl said.
For more information about the transit of Venus, go to www.transitofvenus.org.
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 Observatory, 105 E. Rebecca Lane, opens its doors to the Kokomo community on the second Sunday of each month during the spring and fall semesters. Free parking is available.
Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.