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THE SUN AND THE STARS, the history and science behind the bright objects we see in this year’s Winter sky; EARTH’S NEAREST NEIGHBOR (when the moon is visible); THE WINTER CONSTELLATIONS when the moon is not in the sky blotting out all but the brightest stars.
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 FEBRUARY
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 well into 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 -4.3, 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 gibbous moon.
Lunar phases this month: On Saturday, February 1, the moon is just before First Quarter, making this one of the best nights of the month to look at it through a telescope because the terminator (line separating light from dark) provides clear shadows of surface features, and lies almost dead center; February 8 is just before Full Moon, offering fair – but not great – lunar viewing because the sun is shining almost directly down on the moon’s surface, with few shadows; February 15 is near Last Quarter, when the moon rises long after the observatory closes; The 22nd is near New Moon, with no moon in the evening sky; The 29th is again near First Quarter and offers excellent viewing, very similar to February 1.
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 northern sky during Winter, the ubiquitous circumpolar constellation, the Big Dipper (Ursa Major), has revolved around the pole star and no longer looks so dipper-ish: more like a giant question mark … a sure sign of the coldest season. The bright stars and constellations of winter now appear against the blackness of intergalactic space. We are looking in the opposite direction of our galaxy’s center, out into our spiral arm at Orion, the Hunter, and Canis Major, the Big Dog, The most obvious marker of this constellation is Sirius, the brightest star in the sky — other than our sun. Its presence high in the south is the surest sign of astronomical winter. Other than the fact that we are freezing our tooshies standing outside to see it!