Behlen Observatory open house to feature Jupiter

Behlen Observatory
Behlen Observatory

Behlen Observatory near Mead will be open to the public from 7:30 to 10 p.m., Nov. 4 for visitors to get a glimpse of the largest planet in the solar system. Provided the sky is clear, they will be able to view a variety of objects with the observatory's 30-inch telescope and with smaller telescopes set up outside of the observatory. These include the moon, the planets Jupiter and Uranus, two kinds of star clusters, double or multiple stars and the Ring Nebula in Lyra.

At 8 p.m., a member of the observatory staff will give a talk about objects that are visible in the evening sky.

For the first time in more than a year, the planet Jupiter will rise high enough in the evening sky to observe with the 30-inch telescope. In a small telescope, the four bright Galilean moons: Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto, are easily visible on either side of the planet. These moons are named after Galileo, who discovered them 400 years ago.

In the 30-inch telescope, the dark and light bands in Jupiter's atmosphere can also be seen. Because they are cloud patterns, the appearance of the planet changes over time and seldom looks the same twice.

The observatory will also be open to the public from 7:30 to 10 p.m., Dec. 2.

There is no admission charge for the public night. Further information, including maps and directions, can be found on the observatory website,, or by calling UNL astronomy professor Edward Schmidt at 402-472-2788.

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