Articles in Category: Observatory Articles

Springtime at the Oregon Observatory

on Tuesday, 17 February 2015. Posted in Observatory Articles

Spring is fast approaching and with it more opportunities for viewing at the Oregon Observatory. This winter has been unlucky for us as the weather has been less than cooperative. The weekend preceding President's Day we finally got a break from the clouds and had some great viewing of Jupiter, some early viewing of Venus, Comet Lovejoy, and of course the Great Nebula in Orion as well as some other wintertime treats not visible during the summer months.

Thanks to everyone who braved the freezing temperatures to join us for for our evening program! As well as those that stopped by during the day to get a peek at the Sun!

The next dates we will be open will be during Spring Break, a detailed schedule of when we will be open can be found here. As well as on our front page and events calendar. Following Spring Break we switch to our spring hours and will be open Wednesdays and Saturdays for evening viewing, and Saturdays for Solar viewing.

Venus will be staying up later and later as it swings out from the Sun and chases us in our orbit. Because Venus is inside of Earth's orbit, it goes through phases similar to the Moon. As it catches up to us in August it will be visible as a thin crescent before passing between us and the Sun and then will be visible in the morning sky rather than the evening sky.

Summer Ends with a Comet!

on Tuesday, 26 August 2014. Posted in Observatory Articles

Summer may be coming to a close at the Oregon Observatory, but that does not mean we are finished. Following Labor Day the Observatory will be open three nights a week (Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays) for evening viewing starting at 8PM, and on Saturdays for solar viewing from 11AM-2PM. Although the sky is shifting as we drift towards a new season, there are plenty of objects to see, and even a few new ones rising in the east.

Saturn and Mars are still a treat as they approach the western horizon as a bright pair. As they set, Neptune and Uranus break from the east and start their winter tour in the constellations of Aquarius and Pisces, respectively.

Comet C/2014 E2 Jacques has risen high enough in the northern sky to be spotted during our evening program! Come join us at the Oregon Observatory to get a view of this wandering ice ball that will not return to the inner solar system for 19,000 years. Heaven's Above has an excellent page for locating the comet here.

New Website, New Buildings, and Comets!

on Wednesday, 06 March 2013. Posted in Observatory Articles

Following our name change last year, the Oregon Observatory's new website is now up and running. Many thanks to BN Branding for their work and continuing help to make our site looking good and working properly.

In addition to our new virtual look, you may notice our new physical look. Behind the Observatory are two new storage sheds. These two structures are mounted on wheels and rails so the entire structure can roll away. The sheds will be housing our new 20-inch StarMaster Newtonian telescope donated by Dennis Martin, and our new 30-inch Newtonian telescope generously donated by the Matthews family this summer.

Meteors have been big news lately, the estimated 10,000-ton meteor that exploded over Russia caused incredible damage. Closer to home however, a bright fireball was seen over La Pine that has Lynn Carroll, a member of the Oregon Observatory staff, as well as some other regional experts looking at the possibility that pieces might have survived. If you have any information or saw the object, let us know.

The meteors may have hit the Earth, but there are a couple other celestial wanderers making their way through our solar system that are much larger, but will stay at a safe distance. Comet PanSTARRS finally makes it's way into the Northern hemisphere this March, and will continue it's jaunt north through spring. Later this year, Comet ISON is expected to surpass PanSTARRS in brightness. In fact it may even surpass the bright full moon (though comets are notably finnicky objects). One thing is for sure, the close proximity of Comet ISON's path to the Sun promises a once in a lifetime experience.

Meteor Shower!

on Sunday, 07 October 2012. Posted in Observatory Articles

METEOR OUTBURST: Radars in Canada are reporting a major outburst of Draconid meteors commencing at 16 UT on Oct. 8th. "Radar rates are at 1000 meteors per hour," says Bill Cooke of NASA' Meteoroid Environment Office. "This is greater than last year's outburst, and 5x the 2005 level."

Cooke encourages northern sky watchers, especially in Europe where night is falling, to be alert for Draconid activity. Because radars are sensitive to very small meteoroids, there is no guarantee that this radar outburst will translate into meteors visible to the human eye. On the other hand, a brilliant display could be in progress. The only way to know is to go outside and look. Check for more information and updates.