UNL's Behlen Observatory, located near Mead, will be open to the public 7:30-10 p.m., Feb. 11.
Provided the sky is clear, visitors will be able to view a variety of objects with the observatory's 30-inch telescope and with smaller telescopes set up outside the observatory. These include the moon, the planet Jupiter (early in the evening), the Great Orion Nebula, a star cluster, and double or multiple stars. At 8 p.m., a member of the observatory staff will give an illustrated talk about the Orion Nebula.
The constellation Orion will be high in the sky during the public night. Viewed through binoculars the middle star in the "sword" of Orion turns out to be a small, fuzzy patch of light while the 30-inch telescope reveals a glowing cloud of interstellar gas called the Orion Nebula. The visible nebula is just a small part of a large, dark interstellar gas cloud. All of the stars visible in the telescope formed from the cloud and new stars are still forming within it. These newly formed stars heat the front surface of the cloud to a temperature of about 15,000 degrees Fahrenheit, causing the gas to glow.
There is no admission charge for the public night. Further information can be found on the observatory web site at http://astro.unl.edu/observatory.
Public nights are also scheduled 7:30 to 10 p.m. March 11 and April 8.
Directions to the observatory (maps are available on the website):
From Lincoln: Take U.S. 77 north. Six miles past Ceresco, turn east on Nebraska 66 and go 8 miles to the Mead road. Turn left on the Mead road and go one mile north to Avenue H (on a small green street sign on the corner). At this corner, there are large brown signs on both sides of the road listing various locations on the field lab. Turn right on Avenue H and continue east 2 miles to Eighth Street. Turn left on Eighth Street and follow it north 0.6 miles to the observatory which will be on the left.
From Omaha: Take Nebraska 92 west to Mead. At Mead, turn south on Nebraska Spur 78F and follow it for about 5 miles to Avenue H (on a small green street sign on the corner). At this corner, there are large brown signs on both sides of the road listing various locations on the field lab. Turn left on Avenue H and continue east 2 miles to Eighth Street. Turn left on Eighth Street and follow it north 0.6 miles to the observatory, which will be seen on the left.
- Edward Schmidt, Physics and Astronomy
More details at: http://go.unl.edu/s6r