USU Observatory Hosts Public Viewing Night Friday

LOGAN– The Utah State University Observatory opens its doors to the public Friday, Oct. 26, 2012, from 8-10 p.m. Admission is free.

“We invite the Cache Valley community to enjoy views of the night sky from our state-of-the-art facility,” says James Coburn, Physics Department teaching laboratory supervisor and USUO coordinator. “We’ll be searching the Moon for craters and rays and looking for the double cluster in the constellation Perseus, the star Mizar in Ursa Major – the ‘Big Dipper,’ the ET cluster and the Pleiades or ‘Seven Sisters’ star cluster.”

Located on the roof of USU’s Science Engineering Research (SER) building, the observatory houses a 20-inch reflecting telescope on a computerized mount that yields clear, crisp images of faraway planets and deep space objects. The observatory’s unique, half-circle building, designed and constructed by USU Facilities, features a circular staircase that leads to the telescope gallery topped with a metal dome measuring 16.5 feet in diameter.

All attendees are encouraged to visit the USUO website at <a href=”http://www.physics.usu.edu/observatory”>www.physics.usu.edu/observatory</a> before arriving on public night, as the gathering will be cancelled in the event of cloudy or inclement weather.

The observatory’s telescope is accessible by stairs only from the SER building’s roof.

Parking for the event is available in surface lots near the Performance Hall at 1090 East 675 North on the USU campus. The SER building is southwest of the Performance Hall. To access the observatory, visitors should take the freight elevator located at the northwest corner of the first floor of the SER building to the roof. For directions, visit <a href=”http://www.physics.usu.edu/observatory”>www.physics.usu.edu/observatory</a>.

Weather permitting, the USUO plans additional fall public viewing nights Nov. 9 and Dec. 7.

USU students are the primary beneficiaries of the observatory, which was completed in 2009. More than 800 Aggies are enrolled in fall astronomy classes, which afford them access to USUO.

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