Observatory at Keystone College
The Thomas G. Cupillari ’60 Observatory, located a short drive from our La Plume campus in Fleetville, PA, promotes an understanding of the night sky along with a general knowledge of astronomy for the Keystone College community and the general public.
Whether you’re taking an astronomy course or just interested in the night sky, the observatory at Keystone College offers a unique, hands-on learning experience. Observing the night sky and finding objects using a telescope will help open the wonders of the universe. Whatever your ambitions in astronomy, we can help you get started.
Observatory Public Viewing and Lecture Programs
Our programs offer an illustrated lecture, and if the sky is clear, observation of the night sky through the telescopes. Objects to be viewed include the moon, the planets, double stars, star clusters, nebulae, and galaxies, weather permitting The scheduled programs are provided as a community service and are free of charge. No registration required.
Fall Viewing Series at the Observatory
September 5 – November 16, 2018: The public lectures and viewing sessions will be conducted every Wednesday, with a repeat of the session on Friday evening. Lecture time: 7:30 p.m.
Due to limited seating, groups such as school classes, scouts, and community organizations must make an appointment for private lecture and observation on a night other than scheduled public viewing nights. Group nights are only scheduled on Monday nights.
Check out the sky almanac.
2018 Events for Scranton, Pennsylvania
The chance to search for and view the 7 planets in the sky are closing.
If you still having trouble finding planet Mercury, then you get one day to improve your odds. On the evening of July 14th, the thin crescent Moon will be your guide to locating Mercury just 1.5 degrees to the lower left of the Moon. Well within the field of view of binoculars or a small telescope using low power.
The Moon and Venus continue to dance in the western sky. This evening, 15th of July, the Crescent Moon is sitting right of the minus 4.1 magnitude planet Venus by 3 degrees. Venus has increased to 17.8 arc seconds in angular size, and now at 88 million miles from Earth and looking close to half illuminated. This is still smaller than what planet Mars will look like at the end of the month.
Next up is Jupiter, 39 arc seconds in angular size, sitting less than 4 degrees below the First Quarter moon. The Moon moves in its orbit to pair up closely with the solar system showpiece, Saturn. They will be less than 3 degrees apart with the nearly Full Moon to the upper right of the planet.
The Moon will be too bright on the 30th of July to search for tiny Neptune only 3,5 degrees upper left of the Moon.
The BIG SHOW is the return to opposition of the red planet Mars. Officially closest approach to Earth occurs at 3:51 am EDT on July 27, 2018, with an apparent planetary disk diameter of 24.3 arc seconds at a distance of 35,785,537 miles.
Mars will not rise above the local horizon until after 9:00 pm locally. It will be at the meridian near 1:00 am at only 22 degrees above our southern horizon.
The southern pole of Mars is tilted towards the Earth as it approaches opposition. It will be winter in the southern hemisphere of Mars. The south polar cap will shrink as winter gives to spring in the Southern hemisphere of Mars.
Mars is dominant this month in the evening sky; just past opposition it will be rising earlier each passing day. In view at the by mid-month will be the bright Hellas Basin feature followed by the darker feature and Sytris Major. Both of these are easy to view on the surface of the planet.
The Perseids Meteor Shower will have little interference from the Moon around peak time of the display. The peak days are the evening of Sunday, August 12 and Monday morning of August 13. Perseids can be seen from July 17 to August 24 in considerably lower rates. So hope for clear skies, dress for cool nights and have plenty of non-alcoholic beverages and snack handy.
A few days later the Moon will be in the sky and passing by the 3 bright planets of Jupiter, Saturn and Mars. The evening of the 13th finds the fat crescent Moon 5 degrees to the upper right of Jupiter.
The slow dance of sky is evident on the nights of 16th and 17th. Take note of the Moon’s position on the16th, when it will be placed to the right of planet Saturn, the next evening the Moon has traveled to the left of Saturn.
One more chance to see elusive planet Mercury in the morning sky before dawn. Look for the planet toward the upper right of were the sunrises. It will be highest on the 26th of the month.
Venus is lower in the sky now; setting an hour after sunset, on it’s way to departing from the evening sky by the end of the month. Jupiter will follow suit in the coming weeks. As Venus dips lower in the sky, the Moon cannot get as closes to the planet as in the past months. Chances to see the crescent Moon 9 degrees above Venus soon after sunset on the 12th of this month may be the last for the season.
Jupiter is still high enough in the sky; the Moon is less than 5 degrees to the upper right of the planet on the evening of the13th.
Saturn and the First Quarter Moon will be 4 degrees apart on the evening of the 19th.
Mars is still shining bright, at minus 1.7 magnitudes, and near the meridian at 9 pm. The fat Gibbous Moon is less than 5 degrees to the upper right of bright Mars on the evening of the 19th. Mars is now 17.7 arc seconds in size, shrinking as it moves away from the Earth. Tonight it is 49 million miles from the Earth, still a good view in telescopes. Mars has just begun its retrograde motion in the sky, it is starting to move eastward among the stars.
Jupiter will be departing over the western horizon at the end of this month. The last good pairing of the crescent Moon and Jupiter is a close one of 3 degrees on the evening of the 11th. This will not be easy to see due to the low altitude of both objects. The crescent Moon is to the upper right of the planet Jupiter.
Three nights later on the 14th the Moon makes a close pass of Saturn. Saturn is 3 degrees left of the near First Quarter Moon.
Mars is now 63 million miles from the Earth, and shows a disc of 14 arc seconds in a telescope view. The South Polar Cap on Mars has all but disappeared. Losing it’s brightness, it’s still at -1.0 magnitude. The Gibbous Moon is 6 degrees right of the planet on the 17th of this month.
The two planets in the sky now visible to the naked eye are Saturn and Mars. Uranus and Neptune are also in the sky, but only visible in a telescope. The Moon will be 3 degrees left of Saturn on the 11th of the month. By the 18th the Moon is near equal distance between Saturn on the right and Mars on the left of the Gibbous Moon. By the next night, the 19th a Gibbous Moon stands above Mars by less than 5 degrees
To the start of this month is a telescopic treat. Mars will pass close by the outer planet Neptune on the night of the 7th this month, it will very close paring during the afternoon hours. By nightfall they will be visible at low magnification in a telescope. Mars, only 8.8 arc seconds in angular diameter now, and Neptune will be only 15 ARC SECONDS apart in our skies! Neptune will be the lower right of Mars a 8.0 magnitude a small 2.3 arc second angular disc. Don’t be confused by the 6th magnitude star above Mars.
The Geminid Meteor Shower show be a good early morning show on the night of the 13th and morning of the 14th. The Moon will set around midnight; so get rested early to stay awake in the early morning hours. But be sure look for the Moon and Mars on the evening of the 14th. The Moon will be less than 5 degrees below Mars.
Saturn is leaving our skies this month. It will be over the western horizon by the end of the year. Mars is still hanging on.
The planet Mercury will be seen in the morning sky in December, on the morning of the 7th it will be farthest from the Sun. This is the best time to view Mercury since it will be at its highest point above the horizon in the morning sky. Look for the planet low in the eastern sky just before sunrise. Jupiter will join Mercury in the sky later in the month. On the 21st they will be separated by less than one degree, a great way to find the elusive planet Mercury.
January 2019, there will be a Total Lunar Eclipse
- 2019 Jan 20 22:36 Lunar Eclipse, Enter Penumbra, Sep=+01°36’40”, Alt=51°
- 2019 Jan 20 23:05 Lunar Eclipse, Penumbra First Visible, Sep=+01°19’49”, Alt=56°
- 2019 Jan 20 23:32 Lunar Eclipse, First Contact, Sep=+01°04’11”, Alt=60°
Will the sky be clear at the observatory?
The clear sky chart numerical weather forecast is specifically designed for astronomers and will predict if the Thomas G. Cupillari ’60 Observatory will have good weather for astronomical observing. At a glance, the sky chart shows when it will be cloudy or clear for the next two days.
Astronomy compels the soul to look upwards and leads us from this world to another. ~Plato
Directions to the Observatory
Hack Rd, Dalton, PA 18414 – GPS Coordinates: 41.5965 – 75.6780
The Observatory is located in Fleetville, PA, a short distance from the College’s main campus in La Plume. It is conveniently located near Interstate 81, at the intersection of Route 107 and Hack Road.
From Interstate 81, take exit 202 onto Route 107 West towards Fleetville. Travel 1.8 miles and turn left onto Hack Road. Observatory entrance is on your left.
From the College’s main campus in LaPlume, take Routes 6 & 11 West to Route 107 West. Continue 7 miles, then turn right onto Hack Road. Observatory entrance is on your left