If Your Eye Were As Big As…

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Contributing Writer
Walt Pickut
Board of Directors, MMMAA

Your eye is a pretty good piece of optics. You can see a star trillions of miles away and you can see a speck of dirt tinier than a bug’s eyeball on a clean, white shirt. And your eyes aren’t even an inch wide. So, if your eyes were as big as a pizza pie, just imagine what else you could see.
The good news is, we have eyes that big at the Martz-Kohl Observatory. Our biggest one is two feet across. We can see things so far across the universe that they are millions of times too small and too faint for a human eye to see. Closer to home, we can see details deep in the moon’s craters that nobody on Earth ever saw until telescopes were invented.

Big Eyes at Your Service

The Martz-Kohl Observatory wants to put your eye where ours are. Strange and amazing things are crossing the night sky in the next month which there’s only one way to see: The Martz-Kohl telescopes, at your service.
Comet 69P/Taylor orbits the sun every 7 years. On March 18 it makes its closest approach to the sun since 2012, just over a century since its discovery in 1915. Comet-spotting by telescope is a fascinating experience. It will be in the constellation Taurus. Mars will be nearby in the sky, so a star-hop to the red planet might be possible, too.
By now, everybody knows that Pluto, about 40 times as far from the sun as Earth, has been demoted to a “dwarf planet.” Even more distant planets like it have been found. On March 25, Dwarf Planet Makemake, about 20 percent farther than Pluto, will be well-placed for viewing. It is reddish and about 2/3 the size of Pluto and has one moon. It should be visible in the constellation Coma Berenices through Martz-Kohl’s biggest eye.

See the Planets

On March 26-27, the planet Jupiter will appear close to the moon, within only 0°03′ of each other. A telescopic view of the moon will take in the giant planet near its edge. The closeness, though, is an optical illusion, like looking at a distant mountain past a bug on your windshield. But Jupiter with its Great Red Spot, the biggest, longest-lasting storm in the solar system, is worth the view.
On March 27-28, Saturn will make a similar close-appearing approach of the Moon, as will the planet Venus on April 2.
The Martz-Kohl Observatory will be open to the public on Wednesday, March 27, as on very Wednesday.

Come Hear As Well As See

The Martz-Kohl Observatory is completing the final planning for its special guest speaker series starting in April. Famous astronomers, astro-photographers, space and rocket scientists, and possibly a special guest from NASA, will be speaking at the observatory, public invited. The schedule will be published next month.

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Walt Pickut
Walt Pickut’s writing career began with publishing medical research in1971 while working at the Jersey City Medical Center and the NYU Hospital and School of Medicine. Walt holds board registries in respiratory care and sleep technology as well as bachelor's degrees in biology and communication, and a master's degrees in physiology from Fairleigh-Dickinson University in New Jersey, with additional graduate work in mass communication completed at SUNY Amherst. He currently teaches Presentational Speaking in the Houghton College PACE program at JCC and holds memberships in the Society of Professional Journalists and the American Society of Business Publication Editors. He lives in Jamestown with his wife Nancy, an MSW social worker, and has three children: Dr. Cait Lamberton in Pittsburgh, Bill Pickut, a marketing executive in Chicago, and Rev. Matt Pickut in Plymouth, IN.