February, 2016 Programs

#1 —  THE WINTER CONSTELLATIONS

Locate the mythical figures in the current sky above Lincoln, and learn their legends.  Then, take a guided tour of the sky on the terrace behind the observatory with one of our volunteers who will show you how to locate the important stars and objects in the current night sky.  Running time:  21 minutes.

#2 — JUNO:  MISSION TO JUPITER

Bill Nye “The Science Guy” tells us about the first major probe to enter Jupiter space in nearly 20 years:  The Juno mission goes into orbit around the giant planet on July 4th this year.  Among other things, it will show us Jupiter’s north and south poles in far greater detail than we have ever seen.  Running time:  20 minutes.

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February Objects in the Hyde Telescopes

Planets:  Jupiter rises above the trees East of Hyde observatory before 9 p.m. at the start of February, and appears earlier with each passing day, so it is well within reach of the telescopes before 10 p.m. closing time.  It is the only planet visible to the unaided eye in the evening sky.   You can see its rapidly changing cloudtops and watch the 4 Galilean satellites, Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto revolve around their mother planet.  Mars and Saturn are in the morning sky, and Venus is diving towards the sun making it harder to spot against dawn light.

The Moon will be seen best in telescopes after its New phase on the 8th.   The optimum time to view the moon in the Hyde telescopes this month will be on the night of February 13.  Saturday, February 20 is just 2 days before full moon, so only a sliver of the moon shows shadows.  On both February 6 and 27, moon rise occurs after Hyde’s 10:00 p.m. closing time.

Deep sky objects (stars, galaxies and nebulae) will be on full display in February.  The Great Andromeda galaxy is high overhead, and the nebulae in the constellation Orion are blazing with newborn stars.