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Starry night: Open houses offer star gazers a chance to see celestial views from Union


Click image:
The observatory atop Olin. (Christen Gowan/Union College)The night sky above Union. (Matt Milless)
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Aspiring astronomers will get a chance to see sights out of this world as the Physics Department will host a series of open houses for its observatory.

The next open house is set for 7:30 to 9:30 p.m., Tuesday. Subsequent events will be held from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Nov. 2 and Dec. 1.

Francis Wilkin, lecturer and manager of the College’s observatory, said participants will spend most of their time examining the moon and Jupiter, which will show the most detail at this time of year. Star gazers can also see Jupiter’s moons, cloud belts and some of the outer planets such as Neptune and Uranus.

“One of the nicest things to look at outside our solar system is a globular star cluster, where hundreds of red giant stars are seen along with the light of hundreds of thousands of faint, sun-like stars which make an eerie glow,” Wilkin said. “We may also look at Comet Gerradd at the beginning of the session.”

Viewers will look through the College’s 20-inch telescope to see such celestial objects as star clusters, binary stars, nebulae, galaxies and more. Open houses will be canceled in the event of cloudy, rainy or snowy weather. Cancellations will be announced through the hotline at 388-7100.

The Union Observatory is located on the top of the Olin Center (off room 301), northeast of the Nott Memorial next to the Reamer Campus Center.