Martz/Kohl Observatory Plans New Programs

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Article Contributed by
Walt Pickut, Martz/Kohl
Board of Directors

The general meeting at the observatory is held on the second Wednesday of every month. That will also a good night for individuals, families and groups to plan a tour if they want to combine their visit with a special lecture, demonstration or sky watching opportunity.
The 2016 schedule of speakers and lectures is being planned right now to include topics of special interest to members and guests. Guest speakers will include astronomers and scientists, astrophotographers, educators and Martz/Kohl members with special interests and achievements.
Jamestown Gazette readers who would like to suggest or request special programs of interest they would like to attend are invited to send their ideas to editor@jamestowngazette.com. What would you like to learn more about or see in the night sky? Martz will try to make it happen in 2016 when the newest observatory construction nears completion. The Martz/Kohl website calendar will announce upcoming events when thee year’s programs are set. Go to www.martzobservatory.org.
What’s Up in the Sky in September?
Partial Solar Eclipse Coming. During the day on September 13, the Moon will pass in front of the sun and block part of its face. It will look like a bite out of a cookie. Unfortunately, it will only be visible in southern Africa, Madagascar, and Antarctica. But because of its position, later that night the Moon will disappear.
The disappearing moon is called the New Moon. It will still be between the Earth and the Sun. Only its dark side will face us. Astronomers love the New Moon because the sky is dark, the best time to see faint objects such as galaxies, star clusters and the most distant planets.
September 21, look for Venus and Mars. Bright Venus will shine in the east around dawn. Venus will be the third-brightest object in the sky aside from the moon and the sun due to its pole-to-pole covering of thick white clouds reflecting sunlight. Mars — the Red Planet — will also be visible in the morning sky. The waning moon will make it easier to see. Though Mars is not nearly as bright as Venus, its red color will make it easy to spot.
Fall Arrives! September 23 is the September Equinox. The Sun will be directly over the equator producing nearly equal amounts of day and night throughout the world. Equinox means “equal night”. The first day of fall in the Northern Hemisphere is the first day of spring in the Southern Hemisphere.
Supermoon! The second of three Supermoons arrives for 2015. By September 28 the Moon will have swung exactly half way around in its orbit around Earth from its “invisible” position about 15 days earlier. This is the Full Moon, when the face we see will be will be fully illuminated by the sun. This full moon was known to early Native Americans as the Full Corn Moon, and by settlers as the Harvest Moon, coinciding with the harvest time of year. The Moon will also be at its closest approach to the Earth and may look slightly larger and brighter than usual.
Total Lunar Eclipse. On September 28, a total lunar eclipse will be visible throughout most of North and South America, Europe, Africa, and western Asia. It occurs when the Moon is completely within the Earth’s dark shadow, or umbra. During this type of eclipse, the Moon will gradually get darker and then take on a rusty or blood red color.
Everything at the Martz/Kohl Observatory is looking up. Join us. Membership is open to all.

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

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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.