Behlen Observatory's final fall public night is Nov. 12

Behlen Observatory
Behlen Observatory

UNL's Behlen Observatory near Mead will be open to the public 7:30-10 p.m. Nov. 12.

Provided the sky is clear, visitors will be able to view a variety of objects with the 30-inch telescope and with smaller telescopes set up outside 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 an illustrated talk.

Because the moon is our closest celestial neighbor and has no atmosphere to obscure the view, its surface is clearly visible through the telescope. Large areas of the lunar surface are covered with craters left by ancient meteor impacts. Other areas, known as maria or seas, are darker and contain few craters. Lunar mountains can be seen along the edges of the maria. Early astronomers believed that the maria were oceans similar to those on the Earth. We now know that they are actually smooth plains formed when lava flooded large impact basins. The moon will be near first quarter phase during the public night. At that time these various features are most easily seen in the evening.

This will be the last public night this fall. Public nights will resume in February.

There is no admission charge for the public night. Further information, including directions to the observatory and maps, can be found on the observatory website,

- Edward Schmidt, Physics and Astronomy

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