Flying Through Halley’s Comet

Article Contributed by
Walt Pickut
Martz/Kohl Board of Directors

Halley ’s Comet, the most famous of them all, comes around once every 75 years, puts on a beautiful sky show for a few months as it nears the sun, and then zooms back toward the farthest reaches of the solar system. It last appeared in 1986. By now it has retreated nearly 3 billion miles, far beyond the orbit of the planet Neptune. But, like all comets, Halley is a litter bug.

Halley leaves a tell-tale trail of dust and debris along its path around the sun on every trip. This month, as we do every year, Planet Earth will once again plow through that trail like a speeding car through a hailstorm. The result is the annual Eta Aquarids Meteor Shower on Saturday and Sunday nights, May 6 and 7, as that comet debris smashes into our upper atmosphere at 150,000 mph leaving fiery streaks in their wake, up to 30 – 40 “shooting stars” per hour in a dark sky after midnight.

Observatory Events
The annual meeting of the Mart/Kohl Observatory will be held at the observatory on Wednesday, June 14 at 6:30 pm with a special dinner buffet catered and sponsored by the Nic-L-Inn Restaurant of Frewsberg under the direction of Head Chef Travis Smith, also an active member of the Martz/Kohl Observatory. The meeting is open to all, membership not required. The dinner meeting will include a summary of the year’s most notable events at the observatory and a preview of the coming year’s plans. Reservations are required by contacting Martz/Kohl President Gary Nelson at Hall & Laury Opticians, 707 Fairmount Ave, Jamestown, 716-483-1955, $15/person. Weather permitting, telescope observing will be available as well as outdoor dining on the elevated telescope deck.

The dinner will also feature a drawing for a valuable and beautiful, handcrafted Amish quilt. Tickets are available at Hall & Laury and will also be available at the dinner.

A special guest speaker is planned for the general public meeting night of Wednesday, May 10 at 8:00 pm as well as possible control room star and planet observation opportunities if the skies are clear after the meeting. See the new

New Website Active
New Members Invited
The Martz/Kohl Observatory is proud to announce its new and updated website, now open for viewing at Events, new observations and member activities can be found there as well as information on the membership opportunities open to all, whether amateur back yard stargazers, students, advanced astronomy hobbyists or any member of the general public interested in seeing the night sky through new eyes.

For a deeper look at the night sky, planets, stars and the entire universe, visit the Martz/Kohl Observatory online at, check the schedule of events and visit in person. Thank you to Hall and Laury Opticians for sponsoring these Martz/Kohl column.