Venus is focus of observatory viewing

Feb 5th, 2009 | By | Category: Campus News, February 5, 2009, Issue, November 13, 2008, October 30, 2008

Behlen Observatory near Mead will be open to the public 7:30 to 10 p.m. Feb. 6.

Provided the sky is clear, visitors will be able to view a variety of objects with the observatory’s 30-inch telescope and with smaller telescopes set up outside. These include the Moon, Venus, the Orion Nebula, star clusters, and double or multiple stars.

Venus will be high in the western sky Feb. 6. It is referred to as the evening star or as the morning star because it is only seen in the western sky after sunset or before sunrise in the eastern sky. This planet is brighter than any other celestial object except the Sun and the Moon.

Venus is about the same size and mass as the Earth but has a very dense, cloudy atmosphere which blocks its surface. As it orbits the sun, Venus goes through a series of phases similar to those of the Moon. At the time of the public night, about one-third of its disk will be illuminated so it will resemble the crescent moon.

An illustrated talk, “Searching for Life in the Universe: Where is Everyone?” will be presented at 8 p.m. by Terry Oswald, professor at Florida Institute of Technology. The search for life in other places in our solar system and in other solar systems is an active area of research among astronomers. Although life beyond the Earth has yet to be found, new research is pointing toward likely locations for the search.

Behlen Observatory Public Night

7:30 to 10 p.m. Feb. 6

Free and open to the public.

For more information, including driving directions, call 472-2788 or go to

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