March, 2017 Programs

Winter Constellations — The mythology and science behind star patterns in the Winter sky above Lincoln.  Running time:  20 minutes

Sky Shorts and Trailers —     The latest NASA and JPL short programs and a trailer for the coming Solar Total Eclipse.  Running time:  19 minutes.

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What we’re looking at through the observatory’s telescopes in March

Planets:

Venus is in the west northwest after sunset,  fading to magnitude -4.2, as it dwindles to a wafer-thin, brilliant beautiful crescent in the telescopes.  It is also diving rapidly towards the horizon, getting so low by the middle of March that it will no longer be within reach of our telescopes.  Venus is waning to just 16% lit at the beginning of the month, and down to 1% by March 24), but at the same time, it is getting closer to us and growing in apparent size.  And, even more peculiar, because it is so far north of the sun, Venus appears as both a morning star (rising before sunrise in the east northeast) and setting as an evening star in the west northwest around March 25.  This only happens about every 8 years.

Mars is above and to the left of Venus, but Mars is disappointing to see through a telescope because it is so far away (over 150 million miles) and so tiny.

Jupiter rises about 10:00 p.m. CDT at the start of the month, placing it in the trees east of the observatory, but by mid-month it is above the trees well before 11:00 p.m. closing time.

The Moon:

The moon on public nights this month:   3/4 —  Just before First Quarter on the 5th, excellent viewing;  3/11 — the day before Full Moon and Daylight Savings Time, the moon will be visible and bright but not great because of few elongated surface shadows; 3/18 — Rises too late to view;  3/25 — not visible, just before New Moon on the 28th.

Deep Sky Objects:

Galaxies, Nebulae, globular star clusters and other objects beyond the solar system will be viewed through the telescopes throughout the month, depending upon sky conditions.

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NEWS ABOUT OUR NEW TELESCOPE:   It is installed and operating!  For the tech-minded, it is a Celestron 14-inch OTA on a Mathis Instruments M-500 Mount.  Translated: It is state-of-the art optics and electronics that delivers great views of the sky.  Come see it — and through it — on Saturday night!