SCROLL DOWN FOR CURRENT PROGRAMS AND HOURS
For the safety of our visitors and volunteers, we have decided to close the observatory due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Watch our site for a re-opening announcement. Meantime, don’t forget to look up! The night sky is as beautiful as ever, no matter what might be going on at ground level.
Your Window on the Universe
Featuring views of the night skies through our 3 Telescopes!
Presentations & Programs
Astronomy Presentations every Saturday Night!
It's all FREE
There is NO ADMISSION CHARGE
We’re open every Saturday year-round.
Hyde may be closed if Saturday falls on or very near a major holiday. If in doubt call first: (402) 441-7094.
March 15-August 31
Sundown to 11 PM
8 PM to 11 PM
October 1-March 14
7 PM to 10 PM
OBJECTS IN THE SKY FOR MARCH
Solar System Objects
The only planet you can see in the evening sky without a telescope now is Venus, and that will be true until late Spring. But, wow! What a show Venus is putting on in the southwest after sunset. The planet is almost at its greatest possible eastern elongation (that’s astronomer-talk for: as far into the evening sky away from the sun that it’s possible for Venus to appear). And, at magnitude -4.5, it is the brightest object other than the moon in our evening sky this month. Because it’s low in the sky and we’re looking at it through a lot of Earth’s jittery atmosphere, Venus can appear to change colors. If you’re not familiar with it, and you’re driving along looking at Venus, it can also appear to quickly change positions. So, we’re expecting the usual calls from people convinced that Venus is a UFO! Through the Hyde telescopes, Venus will resemble a tiny, bright half moon.
Lunar phases this month: On Saturday, March 7, the moon is just before its Full phase, which is not a particularly good time to view it. That’s because the sun is shining almost directly down on the moon’s surface, producing no shadows, and it’s the shadows of surface features that allow us to see fine detail through a telescope. On Saturday, March 14, the moon is approaching Last Quarter and rises well after the observatory closes. On the 21st, the moon is approach its New phase, completely out of the evening sky. Saturday night, the 28th, will produce the best lunar viewing this month, with the moon midway between New and First Quarter, staying in the sky as a crescent all evening. Displaying a sharp terminator (the line between sunlight and darkness) across its face, there will be plenty of shadows to highlight craters and mountains on the moon’s surface.
Deep Sky Objects
Deep Sky Objects are those beyond the solar system: galaxies, nebulae and stars. Our visual guides to these objects are the constellations. In the eastern sky this month, we begin to see the harbingers of Spring. Early in the evening, the Winter constellations, Orion and his dogs are still high in the south, but in the East we see Leo the Lion, Coma Berenices (Berenice’s Hair) and Bootes the Herdsman, constellations that will be high in our sky in late Spring and early Summer. When we look in that direction, we are facing more towards the Milky Way and its star clouds filled with gas and dust, than we do during the winter. March is our last best shot at viewing objects like the Pleiades star cluster and Orion Nebula against the dark skies of the outer edge of our home galaxy.