Ringed Giant of the Sky on Display


Contributing Writer
Walt Pickut
Board of Directors, MMMAA

August is Saturn month at the Martz/Kohl Observatory. On Wednesday, August 14, the public is invited to Movie Night to see the latest amazing discoveries at Saturn and learn about NASA’s future plans for exploration of Saturn and its 62 confirmed moons – with nine more waiting in line for confirmation. Saturn’s moons are spectacular, with its largest, Titan, being bigger than both the planets Mercury and Pluto. The program will start at 7:30, with observatory tours to follow and telescope viewing of Saturn after sunset at 8:19 p.m., weather permitting.

On Wednesday, August 21, popular cosmic raconteur, story-teller of the stars Phil Evans, will return to Martz/Kohl with a program entitled “Readings in Astronomy,” though Phil’s presentation, as always, will reach far beyond anything as ordinary-sounding as mere reading. Once again, the program starts at 7:30 p.m., with observatory tours to follow and telescope viewing of Saturn after sunset at 8:09 p.m., weather permitting.

On Wednesday, September 18, Martz/Kohl welcomes back Dr. Darren Williams, an astrophysicist from Behrend College. Darren started his career as a teen astronomy hobbyist at Martz/Kohl many years ago. His specialty includes the creation of planets orbiting around the sun and distant stars. If anyone ever meets ET, it may come from a distant star system Darren has studied and can explain for the benefit of Earthlings at Martz Kohl. The public is invited to the program which will kick off as usual at 7:30 p.m., with tours and starwatching to follow after sunset at 7:22 p.m.

Meteor Shower Forecast

On Monday and Tuesday, August 12 and 13, keep looking up. The Perseids Meteor Shower, one of the most spectacular meteor showers to watch, is forecast to produce up to 60 meteors per hour at its peak. The show is produced by debris from comet Swift-Tuttle which was discovered in 1862. The Perseids are famous for producing a huge number of bright, fast-moving meteors.

The usual timing of the annual meteor shower runs between July 17 and August 24. This year’s peak is projected to arrive on the night of August 12 and the morning of August 13. The nearly full moon will outshine most of the fainter meteors this year, but the Perseids are so bright and plentiful that it is still very likely to put on a good show. Best viewing will be after midnight from a dark location. Meteors will radiate out of the constellation Perseus, but they can appear anywhere in the sky.

The Martz/Kohl Observatory is an all-volunteer, non-profit organization operated in the public interest for the benefit of all. Though there is never an admission charge, a donation of $5 would be appreciated. Learn more at www.martzobservatory.org.

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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.