Article Contributed by
Walt Pickut, Martz/Kohl Board of Directors
October is a busy month at the Martz-Kohl Observatory in Frewsburg. Construction on the three new additions is being completed on the outside of the building this month in time to weather the coming winter storms. The new construction will house the Welcome Center and Gift Shop, the maintenance garage and the planetarium, for an on-time completion of the observatory’s 10-year, capital campaign and expansion projects.
We plan to reopen for normal operations by the end of October, having been closed most of the summer for construction and the safety of our guests on the busy work sites around the grounds.
A Grand Reopening Celebration is planned for 2019 to acknowledge and thank the many foundations, philanthropists and private donors whose contributions now top $1.2 million. Now it is up to the always generous contributions of our guests to help this non-profit association keep the lights on for years to come in this outstanding new facility.
On Wednesday evening, November 14 at 8 o’clock, guests are invited to come for a return engagement of one of our favorite speakers, Mr. Phil Evans, who delights audiences with fascinating and nostalgic looks back at astronomy and astronautics of past years as well as long looks into the future, speculating on what is yet to come in space. As always, weather permitting, guests are invited to stay later for some deep space stargazing of their own.
There seems to be another new member of our solar system: a dwarf planet which its discoverers have named The Goblin. It has an extremely long orbit. Even at its closest to the sun, it is twice as far out as Pluto. Its peculiar orbit lends more support to the speculation that Planet X — a suspected large planet in the outer realms of the solar system — really is out there.
Farther out in interstellar space, the first moon beyond our solar system seems close to confirmation orbiting a star called 284 Kepler. The evidence hints that the planet is bigger than our own giant Jupiter and this newly discovered moon is a monster as big as Neptune.
Meanwhile, a satellite named Gaia that cost the European Space Agency nearly $500 million is busily mapping the Milky Way while bracing itself for an incoming meteoroid storm, the Orionid Storm, in October. The meteoroids are no bigger than sand grains, but at 40,000 mph, even one could spell doom for the spacecraft.
As seen from Earth, the Orionid meteor shower will peak on October 21. Some of its shooting stars are expected to be visible every night from October 16 to 30. Meteor showers occur when the Earth passes through streams of debris left behind by comets and asteroids.
Things keep looking up at the Martz-Kohl Observatory.
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.