Did you know that this is the best time to see Mercury for all of 2019? Mercury, the Moon, and Mars are visible in the early evening sky this month, both by eye and by telescope. Even Uranus is visible with binoculars. Come see them all from MSU-St. Andrews, and take advantage of the earlier darkness that Winter brings!
Families with school-age and older children are invited to an evening of astronomy and observing. We will begin with a short (< 1 hr) presentation on Mercury: where to look for it, how to recognize it, and the things that make it special. The presentation will include useful information about the upcoming transit of Mercury later this year. We will also have a short discussion describing the telescopes we have, and some fun information on astronomy in general.
If the skies cooperate, we will then begin our observing session. We will start with the Moon, which will be well-placed for viewing as we start our evening. If you’ve never seen the Moon through a telescope, this will be a special treat. The Moon will be in a waxing gibbous phase on Astronomy and Telescope Night. At this phase, many lunar “seas” and part of the Ocean of Storms will be visible. The bright eastern craters will be fully lit, and the great western crater-ray systems might just be coming into view. The southern crater fields will have good contrast.
Mars, in the south, is coming off of its best opposition in over a decade and is still in a good position for viewing. Mars is much brighter than most stars and can be seen with the unaided eye. And, we will also be able to see Mercury in the evening twilight.
There are always other options to see on Astronomy and Telescope Night. Many stars and constellations will be visible from our St. Andrews site. We can help you learn to identify the brighter stars by name, as well as the brighter constellations. The distant planet Uranus will also be visible on this night; we can show you where to look for that as well. (For Uranus, bring binoculars!) It all depends on what interests our attendees the most!
Date: Wednesday, February 20, 6 – 8 PM. In the case of clouds or bad weather, we will still be offering the presentation on Mercury and will answer any general astronomy questions you bring.
Michigan State University programs, activities, and facilities are available to all without regard to race, color, gender, religion, national origin, political persuasion, sexual orientation, marital status, disability, height, weight, veteran status, age or familial status. Please inform us if you need any accommodation for accessibility at (517) 432-4499.