Lincoln, Neb., Feb. 28, 2002 -- Views of Saturn and Jupiter or the Orion Nebula M42 are possible March 8 during the spring public night at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's Behlen Observatory southeast of Mead. The observatory will be open to the public from 7 to 10 p.m.
The Orion Nebula M42 is a giant cloud of gas where it is thought that stars are still forming. Four hot stars known as the Trapezium heat up the surrounding gas and give the Orion Nebula its eerie glow. Visitors can gaze at the effect as well as at Jupiter and Saturn through the observatory's 30-inch reflector telescope.
A special treat of recent public nights at Behlen Observatory has been the amateur astronomers from the Lincoln and Omaha astronomy clubs, who bring their telescopes to share astronomical viewing with the public. Several star clusters, M44 and M67, may have good viewing through the amateurs' small telescopes. They will be located near the south end of the observatory. Society of Physics students will also have demonstrations in the southeast lecture hall.
All observatory activities are weather permitting.
UNL physics and astronomy department speakers are also scheduled to give slide show talks in the north concourse, and at least one talk will be given regardless of weather and viewing capabilities. The lectures are "The Physics of Football," by Tim Gay, 7:15-7:45; "Optical Telescopes for the 21st Century" by Kevin Lee, 8-8:30; and "What's up in Tonight's Sky" by Ed Schmidt, 8:45-9:15.
Behlen Observatory is located at the University of Nebraska Agricultural Research and Development Center a few miles southeast of Mead, and about 35 miles from either Omaha or Lincoln. Directions to the observatory follow.
From Lincoln, take U.S. 77 north to about one-half mile past Swedeburg and turn east on Nebraska 63. Follow Highway 63 for about seven miles to 10th Street (same as Nebraska Spur 78F) where there is a sign to Mead. Turn left and go one mile north to Avenue H. Turn right on Avenue H and continue east about two miles to Eighth Street. Turn left Eighth Street and follow it north about 0.7 miles to the observatory, which will be seen to the left.
From Omaha, take Nebraska 92 west to Mead. At Mead turn south on Nebraska Spur 78F and follow it about five miles to Avenue H. Turn left on Avenue H and continue east about two miles until to Eighth Street. Turn left on Eighth street and follow it north about 0.7 miles to the observatory, which will be seen to the left.
From Fremont, take U.S. 77 south to Mead and follow the same directions as from Omaha.
For more information, visit the open house Web site
For questions regarding these releases, contact:
(402) 472-8514, Fax: (402) 472-7825