ANNOUNCEMENTS

                   TWITCHELL OBSERVATORY - SHARING THE UNIVERSE!

                     “Come with me now, Pilgrim of the stars...” (Robert Burnham, Jr.)  

MOONS, PLANETS, DOUBLE STARS, CONSTELLATIONS, STAR CLUSTERS, NEBULAE AND GALAXIES  -  OH MY! 


* PLEASE SCROLL THROUGH TO THE END OF THIS PAGE TO SEE ALL OF THE FOLLOWING:     (blue headings)
1)  Monthly Open Observatory Night
2)  Special Open Observatory Night - when scheduled
3)  Any postponement or cancellation notices (in red, directly under the blue, individual event headings)
4)  Directions to the Observatory

* WONDERING WHAT EXCITING OBJECTS WE'VE SEEN ON PAST OPEN OBSERVATORY NIGHTS?   JUST CLICK ON "OBSERVING NOTES" TO FIND OUT!


NEXT OPEN OBSERVATORY NIGHT: Fri., November 3rd (or Sat. the 4th), 7:30 p.m., if skies are clear.

posted Jan 8, 2015, 5:52 PM by Terry Robinson   [ updated Oct 21, 2017, 5:20 PM ]

*  HERE'S THE LATEST REGARDING THE DATE OF THIS EVENT:    NOTE THE EARLIER TIME!  
Nothing yet - please check back the Thursday night before the scheduled weekend for specific scheduling information.  Thank you.
  - Each month, check here the Thursday night or Friday morning before the event to learn whether the weather  :- ) will allow us to hold the Open Observatory Night on the scheduled weekend, and on which day.
- As always, if we're unable to hold it on the planned weekend, we'll try for the next weekend, and the next, as needed, until a clear night is obtained.  We'll keep you posted right here!  :- )  
- Also, a notice is posted on Facebook, but only when it is confirmed that we will hold the event.  To sign on for that: 
- Also, if you would like to be added to our e-mail list, you will receive Open Observatory reminders and notices of postponement right in your e-mail box.  If you can receive your e-mails on your cell, even better!  When you're up to the Observatory next and signing the log book, just clearly print your e-mail address next to your name.


SO... WHAT'S UP IN THE NIGHT SKY THIS MONTH?

Constellations
(Note:  It is especially helpful to study the constellation art, versus just the "stick drawings."  This not only helps to remember the constellations, but also to better understand what each constellation represents.)
- Auriga, the Charioteer, has arrived, containing Capella, one of the brightest stars in the sky.  
- The Summer Triangle is still in the sky, made up of three bright stars, marking three, easy-to-find constellations that are all in one area.  If you're looking during typical observing time this month, you'll find them high overhead and moving to the west.:  Bright star Deneb in the constellation Cygnus (the swan), Altair in Aquila (the eagle) and Vega in Lyra (the lyre, or harp).
Bright Stars
- See above for the Summer Triangle bright stars and Capella 
Double Stars   
- Alcor and Mizar, what looks like one star that's the second from the end in the handle of the big dipper.  There is some debate as to whether this is an actual binary.  If so, there are actually six stars in this system!
- Yes, this one always deserves a place on this list - the famous, the beautiful, the unexpectedly stunning, blue and gold Albireo!  (Cygnus, the swan's head)  You wouldn't think to look at this very faint star that it's so... well... stellar!  Especially on a "good seeing" night.   Cygnus can be found flying fairly high overhead right now, and starting to move to the west.
Star Clusters
-  M13 in the "keystone" of Hercules is an easily-seen globular cluster.  This one's more than just a fuzzy spot, especially if the Moon isn't out, or too bright, it's a very bright fuzzy spot!  Discovered by Halley in 1714.
-  You don't have to stay up too late to see the Pleiades now!  This stunning, diamond-like open cluster is simply ahhmazing.  The entire cluster is best seen with binoculars, and a telescope reveals the stunning brightness of Pleiades brightest stars.  The Pleiades - it's back!  Can Orion be far behind - absolutely not!    
Nebulae
- Looking like a ghostly jelly doughnut or Cheerio, the Ring Nebula is located in the constellation Lyra.  This type of nebula is formed by a red giant star expelling ionized gas.  Red giants are in the long process of dying out.
Galaxies
-  We've returned once again to see the Andromeda Galaxy!  Our close neighbor in the "Local Group" of galaxies, of which our Milky Way Galaxy is a part, can now be easily seen above the eastern horizon during "normal" observing hours.  Believe it or not, this can be seen with a pair of binoculars.  Yes, it's just a smudge, but it's there!  Seen through a telescope - a much bigger and brighter smudge!  The side-by-side constellations Pegasus and Andromeda point the way to this galaxy.
- Some of the easier galaxies are the close pair, M81 (and M82)  in Ursa Major, a beautiful spiral galaxy.
 
POSTPONEMENT POLICY
- Check for updates the night before the scheduled Open Observatory.  Plus, if weather is uncertain, we sometimes must wait to decide until the day of.  We try to avoid this, though.
- If skies are not clear on either night, we'll postpone to the second weekend, and the next, etc., as needed, to obtain a clear night.  
- If we've decided to hold it, it's still advisable to check the sky just before coming up to the Observatory and check here to see if there are any late postponements.  The skies can sometimes cloud up last minute, just before we go over, or... while we're there!  

AND, AS ALWAYS...
- We quite often see one of these travelers of the sky: meteor, space station, satellite or a flare off of an iridium satellite.  
- Do you have a telescope?  Feel free to bring it.  
- Do you have binoculars?  Feel free to bring them - it's just amazing what you can see!  You can get what could be considered to be the best look at some nebulae and open star clusters, for example.  Don't have binoculars?  Check out yard sales, flea markets and auctions.  Test them before buying.  Great deals can be had!
- Have you taken the Observatory Training Class and would like to try your hand at using the telescope?  Be sure to let us know if you'd like to find an object or two with the telescope and/or get further experience opening/closing the Observatory.  For the latter, just come about an hour early and/or stay after, again, just let us know you'd like to help.
- The Observatory is open to the public on these nights - free of charge.  Held if skies are clear.  Or, here in New England, we sometimes have to settle for "clear enough," especially since we're trying to observe mainly on Friday and Saturday nights - just two nights out of seven!
 
WANT TO DO SOME OBSERVING IN BETWEEN THE MONTHLY OPEN OBSERVATORY NIGHTS?   
- Library's telescope:  For folks living in South Paris or directly surrounding towns, you can now check out a small, tabletop telescope at the library in South Paris, free of charge!  All you need is a library card.  It's right in Market Square in downtown South Paris, beside the Town Hall, and the folks there are really nice!
- Sidewalk observing & Roberts Farm:  A telescope is set up in downtown Norway and at Roberts Farm from time to time.  Sign up here for those announcements:  https://www.facebook.com/groups/1576662229235265/
- Visual Observing:  Feel free to observe at your home, for even a few minutes on a clear night, to see what you can see.  There's lots, and you don't need a telescope, or even binoculars!  You can find and identify bright stars and constellations with the unaided eye - it's fun!  If you're not familiar with the night sky, you just need a road... er, I mean, a sky map!  
- Sky Chart:  When you go out on your own, a sky chart helps tremendously.  A planisphere is the best in regards to what to take out with you.  For planning ahead of time for what you are going to find, especially for those objects not found on your planisphere, you can also find an excellent chart on line for free at: http://www.skymaps.com/downloads.html.  Just scroll down towards the bottom of that web page and click on download for the northern version of the current month's chart, then print it out.  There's a new one each month, made available usually just at the beginning of each month.  These are hard to read in the dark under a red light, though, which is necessary to preserve your night vision.  So, this downloaded map is a favorite for planning an observing session... why? 
* On the second page of the map you'll find a list of objects that's divided into three categories - what you can see with 1) the unaided eye, 2) binoculars and 3) a telescope.  That makes locating and identifying an object much easier, because you know which objects you can find using what - your eyes, binoculars or if a telescope is needed.  It really makes observing much easier!  Also, this document shows...
* A list of astronomical and observing terms
* All the constellations and bright stars in the sky that month are on the map.
* Nebulae, star clusters, galaxies, and other deep sky objects are mapped, as well.  
- Again, a planisphere is very helpful.  It's a map of the skies and you simply turn the wheel for the month, day and time of observing.
- Free sky map apps:  Also, you can download an app for your smart phone or tablet that identifies bright stars, constellations and planets, wherever you point your device.  There's many, and from free to various amounts of money, so look through carefully.  
- Observing Notes:  Don't forget to check out the "Observing Notes" page of this web site for a write-up of what happened at past Open Observatories and other events!

ABOUT MONTHLY OPEN OBSERVATORY NIGHTS IN GENERAL
- Jan.-Dec. - all year long:  First, clear night of the first weekend of each month - Friday or Saturday night.  (& occasionally Sunday)  If cloudy, we'll try for the next weekend, and the next, etc., as necessary, until a clear evening is obtained.
- Start times:  7 p.m. in winter (Dec., Jan., Feb.), 7:30-8:30 p.m. in the fall and spring months (Sept., Oct., Nov. and March, April, May) and 9 or 9:30 p.m. in summer (June, July, Aug.).  See "Announcements" for specific times.
- Details & Updates:  Check "Announcements" for dates, times and any postponements, or sign up for our convenient e-mail list on your next visit to the Observatory.  Because of the weather, we often have to postpone, or at least wait until very close to the day before committing to a date.
- Observing Notes:  Want to learn about what has been seen at previous events?  Check out the "Observing Notes" page on this web site.
- What to bring?  
* Feel free to bring any binoculars or telescopes you may have.  (optional)
* Please dress appropriately for the weather.  Once you get there, you'll not want to have to leave early because you could have been better prepared!
* Winter: The best time for observing, but it can't be stressed enough to dress warmly... warm jacket with a couple of thick layers underneath, warm pants (roomy ski pants are good), with a layer or two underneath, warm socks and boots, hat, scarf and gloves or mittens.  Warming hut available.
* Early to Mid-Spring and Fall:  Same as above, but less layers.  Judge the night temperature and bring the other warm clothes to layer, as needed.
* Summer:  Light jacket or fleece and insect repellent.  Some summer nights can get cool and/or buggy.  We do tend to have just a limited number of buggy days at the Observatory, however.
* Warming Hut:  We do have a warming hut, so you can warm up as needed, but the Observatory is necessarily unheated, and other telescopes are set up outside by volunteers for your viewing as well.
- How does it work?  Volunteers are at the Observatory's telescope and some bring their own scopes for visitors to observe with.  The volunteers work the Observatory telescope and their own telescopes, but the public is invited to look through the eyepiece of any and all to discover there the true wonders of the night sky!
- Let us know if you'd like to learn some constellations and identify bright stars, or if you have any questions at all.  The volunteers will do their best to answer them.
- Observatory Training Graduates:  If you've taken the Observatory Training class and would like to try your hand at finding an object or two in the Observatory's telescope while at the Open Observatory Night, be sure to let us know!  If you'd also like to gain more experience opening and/or closing the Observatory, we usually arrive about an hour early to open, and we generally end up approximately three hours after the start time, depending upon the sky conditions and how many people are there.  We'd love your help, but just let us know!
- Free and Open to the public on these Open Observatory Nights.  Everyone is welcome!
- Large Groups:  Please make special arrangements with the Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School's Adult Education Office at 207-743-8842 x1.  It helps us with our planning to have a couple of dates in mind, due to the possibility of cloudy skies, as well as a fairly firm count of all who will attend, including parents/chaperones.  The more information we have, the more prepared we can be, and the better the experience will be for your group - thank you!   :- )

THE NEXT SPECIAL OPEN OBSERVATORY NIGHT: None scheduled at this time

posted Dec 26, 2014, 9:08 AM by paul davis   [ updated Mar 18, 2017, 2:50 PM by Terry Robinson ]



GENERAL INFORMATION ABOUT SPECIAL OPEN OBSERVATORY NIGHTS

- When?  Held randomly, now throughout the year, whenever there is something to observe that may not be around by the next regular, Monthly Open Observatory Night, which is held the first clear Saturday or Friday night of each month, Jan.-Dec.
- Start time:  Depends upon the event.  Most take place in the evening, but some are scheduled during the day.  See "Announcements."
- Details/Updates:  Check here for dates, times and any postponements/cancellations, or sign up for our convenient e-mail list on your next Observatory visit! 
- Prepare for the weather:  Bring a light jacket and bug spray in the warm months and layers of very warm clothes in the cold months.  A warming hut is available, but the Observatory is not heated.  (It cannot be, for observing reasons.)  Other telescopes are often set up outside the Observatory, as well.
- What to bring?  Feel free to bring any binoculars or telescopes you may have or can borrow. It's really amazing what you can see with a pair of binoculars!  For folks living in South Paris or directly surrounding, you can now check out a small telescope at the library in South Paris!
- Open to the public:  Bring friends, family and co-workers.  Everyone is welcome at these events - free of charge! 
Large Groups:  Please make special arrangements with the Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School's Adult Education Office at 207-743-8842, x1.  Thank you!
- Important postponement/cancellation information:   
- Check "Announcements" for any postponement/cancellations notices.  
- If weather is cloudy or very uncertain, this event could be postponed or cancelled as late as approximately two hours before the start time, so be sure to check back here at that time.  (We really try to avoid this and call it as early as possible, however.)
- Or, more conveniently, just contact us if you would like to be placed on our e-mail list.  For each event you will receive...
1) notice of any Special Open Observatory Nights that are scheduled in advance
2) a reminder of both the Monthly and Special Open Observatory Nights 
3) any postponement/cancellation announcements

DIRECTIONS

posted Dec 20, 2014, 6:10 AM by paul davis   [ updated Sep 28, 2016, 7:57 PM by Terry Robinson ]

Coming from the south, traveling north on Rt. 26, approaching the Market Square intersection in South Paris:
- Do not go straight through the intersection.  Do bear to the right. (you'll then be off Rt. 26 and driving away from the intersection)  Watch for cars, you're yielding and merging right away.
- Travel down an incline, across a bridge, then turn left onto 117/Buckfield Road.
- Travel for one mile, watching for a yellow and black sign on the right (curve warning) with "Hooper Ledge Road" printed at the bottom.
- Take your next LEFT, at the streetlight (which is sometimes not lighted), onto Hooper Ledge Road.  (can be difficult to see the sign) 
- Travel for 0.4 mile, then turn right at the Observatory sign.

Coming from the north, traveling south on Rt. 26, approaching the Market Square intersection in South Paris:
- Get in left hand lane, stop, then continue straight, through the intersection, when the coast is clear.  (Watch carefully for cars coming from two directions.)  Once through the intersection, you will be off of Rt. 26.
- Travel down an incline, across a bridge, then turn left onto 117/Buckfield Road.
- Travel for one mile, watching for a yellow and black sign on the right (curve warning) with "Hooper Ledge Road" printed at the bottom.
- Take your next LEFT, at the streetlight (which is sometimes not lighted), onto Hooper Ledge Road.  (can be difficult to see the sign)
- Travel for 0.4 mile, then turn right at the Observatory sign.

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