Martz-Kohl Observatory Celebrates 2019 and Plans for 2020

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New York State Senator-elect George Borrello was among the speakers and well-wishers attending The Grand Opening and ribbon cutting ceremony of the Martz-Kohl Observatory on Saturday, October 19, capping the observatory’s 10-year expansion and improvement project. That evening, under an especially clear sky, the Observatory also hosted more than 40 guests for a star-viewing event and tours.
The Martz-Kohl Observatory also hosted its first annual kids’ “Staroween Party” on Wednesday evening, October 30. Great costumes, snacks, pictures, and games highlighted a fun evening for young astronomers, future astronauts, and trick or treaters alike.

Tours to Continue

Every Wednesday, the Martz-Kohl Observatory will continue to welcome guests throughout the winter months to tour the observatory, and weather permitting, tour as much of the solar system, the Milky Way, and the universe as possible through the Observatory’s main telescopes. Many cold winter nights with clear skies can offer especially good viewing. Just dress warmly. To work best, a telescope is always operated at the same temperature as the outside air. The control room and classroom, however, always offer warm and comfortable remote viewing and astrophotography shows when skies are overcast.

The annual guest speaker series will resume in February of 2020, welcoming speakers again from NASA, major universities, professional astro-photographers, and astronomers. Monthly movie nights, a new event and a big hit with guests and visitor this year, will also resume in 2020, featuring movies on space exploration, astronauts, and astronomy produced by National Geographic, NASA, and Hollywood.

Viewing the Invisible

Plans are underway for 2020 to expand the observatory’s lineup of telescopes to view the invisible universe. Starlight is not the only thing to see in the sky. Stars, galaxies, supernovas, and even stranger objects thousands to millions of light years away, also glow in radio waves. The sun and the planets even “sing” in radio waves, a fascinating choir worth hearing. A radio telescope is now under development at the Martz-Kohl Observatory to “see” those objects. Radio waves can reveal forces and events impossible to detect in visible light.

Rare Events in October Skies

On Monday, November 11, Mercury will move directly between the Earth and the Sun, an event called a Transit of Mercury. Telescopes with solar filters will see the dark disk of Mercury move across the face of the Sun. This extremely rare event will not take place again until 2039. Fortunately, the best viewing for the entirety of the event will include the eastern United States, Central America, and South America. To seethe entire world map of the event, see: http://xjubier.free.fr/en/site_pages/transits/ToM_2019.html.

Overnight on November 17 to 18, the Leonids Meteor Shower is expected to produce up to 15 meteors per hour at its peak with many bright ones. This shower is unique, with a peak of hundreds of meteors per hour, seen only once every 33 years. That last peak was in 2001. The Leonids is produced by dust grains left behind by comet Tempel-Tuttle, which was discovered in 1865. The best viewing will be from a dark location after midnight, radiating from the constellation Leo.