Happy New Year from the Martz/Kohl Observatory

Article Contributed by
Walt Pickut
Martz/Kohl Board of Directors

In the Sky
The New Year promises some spectacular sights in the night sky. The year’s 11 expected shooting star light shows, the annually returning meteor showers, started off this week on January 3, 4 and 5 with the Quadrantids Meteor Shower. Up to 40 meteors per hour streak across the stars for late night observers lucky enough to find cloudless skies overhead.

One lunar and two solar eclipses are also on deck for 2017. Unfortunately, the lunar (Feb.) and first solar (Feb.) eclipse will not be visible in North America.

But on August 21 a Total Solar Eclipse will cast the Moon’s shadow across a wide swath of the United States. A total solar eclipse is seen when the moon completely blocks the Sun, leaving only the Sun’s beautiful outer atmosphere, the corona, revealed as a luminous crown around the dark moon’s shadow. This rare event may be a once-in-a-lifetime sight for viewers in the United States. The last time a total solar eclipse was visible in the United States was in 1979. The next one will make observers wait until 2024 to see it. The path of the total eclipse will start over the Pacific Ocean and move slowly across the center of the country. It will be visible in parts of Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, and South Carolina before ending over the Mid-Atlantic Ocean. A partial eclipse will be visible almost everywhere else in North America.

On the Ground
The Martz/Kohl Observatory is continuing its building programs, expanding and upgrading its facilities. We continue to welcome individuals and groups for tours and deep sky observing, including a new feature which allows guests to attach a cell phone to the eyepiece of the Kohl Telescope and take their own astrophotographs of popular targets like Jupiter and its four biggest moons and Saturn and its rings. It gives guests at the observatory a chance to show and tell their friends about their most recent trip out into the solar system.

Clear nights will also offer members a chance to bring their own telescopes up to the outdoor Skywatch viewing deck for their own observations or learn to operate the main research ‘scopes. Guests can also take advantage of the Skywatch deck by using one of the observatory’s permanently mounted telescopes.

Martz/Kohl is always ready to welcome new members and one-time guests. It’s always a beautiful night at the Martz/Kohl Observatory in Frewsburg, New York.

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