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Clark Refractor Telescope

The heart of the astronomical observatory at Keystone College since 1973.

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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 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.

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 that may be viewed include the Moon, the planets Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune, and various double stars, star clusters, nebulae, and galaxies. The scheduled programs are provided as a community service and are free of charge.

Minor Planet Project

Thomas G. Cupillari Observatory ’60 has been issued an Observatory Code I17 designation from the Minor Planet Center.

Spring schedule: March 15 – May 26, 2017

Time: Opens at 7:30 p.m.

The spring series of public lectures and viewing sessions will be conducted every Wednesday, with a repeat of the session on Friday evening. The sessions are free with no registration required.

Groups Welcome

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.

2017 Events for Scranton, Pennsylvania

January

Two events to view as the New Year begins. In the Southwest evening skies on January 1st, Mars is shining at first magnitude and 130 million mile from Earth is easy to see in the sky. Pointing a telescope at the planet will not show a wealth of detail on the surface, however has Mars moved pass by the outermost planet, 7.9 magnitude Neptune, some 2.8 billion miles distant. They are separated by 32 minutes of arc (size of the Full Moon) and may be seen in the same view at very low magnification power. Neptune is to the lower right of Mars. They are joined in the sky by the bright planet Venus (-4.3 magnitude, half illuminated) and the a nice crescent Moon closer to the horizon.

The following sunset, on Jan 2nd, the crescent Moon is situated between Mars, Neptune and Venus, Neptune now over one degree in the sky away from Mars. Then on Jan 3rd the moon, near 1st quarter phase, is higher in the western sky followed by Mars, unseen Neptune, and brilliant Venus. Worth stepping out into a cold Winter evening for a view.

In the morning sky, an hour before sunrise and in the twilight are the planets Saturn and Mercury can be found. Not a very easy sight to see, it will require an very good clear Southeast view of the horizon. Saturn is just 6 degrees above the horizon, with Mercury to the lower left of Saturn and less that one degree above the horizon. Not the best of conditions. The waning crescent Moon is 3 degrees to the upper left of Saturn in the morning twilight. A nice sight in a clear sky. Mercury would be in the Sun’s glare at by this time.

On the last 2 days of the month, turn your attention to southwestern sunset horizon. A 2.5 day old crescent Moon is low in the sky with Venus and Mars to the upper left in the sky. The planets are now close to within 6 degrees to each other. On the last day of the month the Moon, Venus and Mars will form a night 3 x 5 x 5 degree triangle with the Moon below Mars and left of Venus.

February

The Full Moon on Feb 10, will enter the dimmer outer shadow of the Earth. This Penumbra Lunar Eclipse will not look like a TOTAL lunar eclipse when the moon enters the much darker Umbra shadow of the Earth. Most of the moon will be inside the Penumbra shadow, therefore it will become noticeable darker, NOT like a Total Lunar eclipse dark. At Mid-Eclipse the north, top, of the Moon may be a darker then the south, bottom of the moon. Do not expect to see the moon change color, rather look for a difference is darkness of shade between the top and bottom of the moon.

The entire event will take over 4 hours and 19 minutes; so take time to step out of the house every 20 minutes or so to notice a change.

2017 Feb 10 5:33 pm – Lunar Eclipse, Enter Penumbra

2017 Feb 10 6:16 pm – Lunar Eclipse, Penumbra First Visible

2017 Feb 10 7:44 pm – Lunar Eclipse, Mid-eclipse

2017 Feb 10 9:11 pm – Lunar Eclipse, Penumbra Last Visible

2017 Feb 10 9:55 pm – Lunar Eclipse, Exit Penumbra

In the morning sky of Feb 20 Saturn is some 6 degrees to the lower left of the Moon, the next morning, Feb 21, the Moon is to the lower left of Saturn by some 3 degrees.

Back in the western evening on Feb 28, there will be another triangle shaped paring of the Moon, Venus and Mars. It will be wider this time some 10 x 13 x13 degrees on a side, the Moon is nearly directly below Mars, Venus to the upper right of the Moon.

March

If the evening skies of January and February were too harsh or cloudy preventing viewing of the Moon, Mars and Venus this month’s weather may be better. As we begin March the Moon has travel higher up into the sky and is now 4.5 degrees right of Mars. The three now forming a long short triangle with Venus some 16 degrees lower right on the sky form a 4 x 12 x16 degree triangle.

By mid-month Venus will be exiting the evening sky, so this is the last chance to see these three together for a while.

Although there will be a good chance to see -0.4 Mercury using the crescent Moon as your guide on the evening of March 29. Mars will still be visible some 11.5 degrees above the Moon. Mars may be had to see in the early twilight, it’s Mercury you should look for using the crescent Moon as your guide. Consider the illuminated crescent as a bow, that draws and arrow, which will point you to Mercury some 9.5 degrees in the direction of the arrow’s flight. Good luck in the early twilight sky at sunset.

The next day March 30, the Moon is some 7 degrees left of Mars. Use the bow / arrow method to locate Mars.

April

On April 10th the Full Moon will be paired with Jupiter in the eastern sky at sunset. Look for Jupiter 2.5 degrees to the upper right of the Moon.

Mars is the lone visible planet in the west at sunset at the end of the month. Both Venus and Mercury have departed for the morning sky. The Moon will make another pass by Mars on the 28th of April, situated to the upper right of the planet in bright twilight skies.

May

Warmer month of May 7th is a good time to get out and see the near full Moon next to the bright planet Jupiter in the western sky during late evening twilight. Side by side and separated by 2 degrees, that’s less than half the separation of the two stars in Big Dipper asterism that point the way to the North star Polaris. Jupiter and the Moon will meet again in the sky next few months.

Venus and Mercury are now visible in the morning sky before sunrise. Mercury is climbing higher each day, reach only a maximum height of 10 degrees above the horizon. Use the planet Venus to draw an imaginary line to the point of sunrise to spot Mercury low on a clear unobstructed horizon. Venus (-4.4 mag.) and Mercury (0.0 mag.) are closest on the 19th May, by 19 degrees. However the planet Mercury is only 10 degrees above the horizon.  After which they begin to separate more each with Mercury rising higher above the horizon each day.

On the 23rd of May the thin crescent Moon is a good view of Venus and the Moon, Venus is higher up to the right of the Moon. From a clear unobstructed horizon the plane Mercury 9 degrees to the lower left of the Moon. Not an easy to see but worth a try.

Another challenging is viewing a 1-day-old moon, very thin crescent, on the evening of 26th of May. The moon will only be 10 degrees above the horizon at sunset. In the sky also is magnitude 1.0 planet Mars, some 6 degrees to the upper right of the Moon.  Seeing only the thin crescent Moon would be a rewarding view, seeing Mars would be an extremely difficult in early twilight.

By now you should have made plans to travel to see the Total Solar Eclipse that will be visible in the United States. The event WILL ONLY be a Partial eclipse from Northeastern Pennsylvania.

June

A good paring of Jupiter and the Moon can be seen on the evening of June 3 in the southern sky. The gibbous moon is less than 2 degrees above the -2.2 magnitude King of the planets. Both will fit into the field of view of binoculars.

A few days later, on the evening of June 9th, the Full Moon is 2.5 degrees to the upper left of 0.0 magnitude planet Saturn.

In the southwest sky on the evening of June 30th finds the First Quarter Moon less than 5 degrees right of the -2.2 magnitude planet Jupiter. Look for the Moon the next evening (July 1st), 8 degrees to the upper left of Jupiter.

July

Low on the southern horizon on July 6th the near Full moon be above the ringed planet Saturn. They will be separated by less than 3 degrees. Saturn and its family of moons will be a good sight in telescope.

AT NO TIME WILL THE MOON FULLY COVER THE SUN IN THE SKIES OF NORTHEASTERN PENNSYLVANIA

NEVER LOOK AT THE SUN WITH A TELESCOPE OR YOUR EYE ALONE. ONLY AN APPROVED SOLAR FILTER PLACE IN FRONT OF THE TELESCOPE OBJECTIVE LENS OR MIRROR, BEFORE LIGHT ENTERS THE TELESCOPE, SHOULD BE USED WITH A TELESCOPE.

AT NO TIME WILL THE MOON FULLY COVER THE SUN IN THE SKIES OF NORTHEASTERN PENNSYLVANIA IN  AUGUST 2017.

Observing Solar Eclipses Safely

http://www.mreclipse.com/Totality2/TotalityCh11.html

The Moon will completely cover the Sun in the states of western Kentucky, Tennessee and South Carolina.

Google map with path of eclipse: http://www.eclipsewise.com/solar/SEgmap/2001-2100/SE2017Aug21Tgmap.html

Explore the site for more information on eclipses and safe viewing. Seeing the event is all about weather prospect.

August

Close to the meridian in the southwest sky the gibbous Moon is place less than 3 degrees to the upper right of the planet Saturn on the evening of August 2nd. The next evening finds the Moon to 8 degrees to the left of Saturn..

A grand sight of the -4.4 magnitude planet Venus situated some 5 degrees directly above the thin crescent Moon in the early morning hour before sunrise on August 19th.

AT NO TIME WILL THE MOON FULLY COVER THE SUN IN THE SKIES OF NORTHEASTERN PENNSYLVANIA

NEVER LOOK AT THE SUN WITH A TELESCOPE OR YOUR EYE ALONE. ONLY AN APPROVED SOLAR FILTER PLACE IN FRONT OF THE TELESCOPE OBJECTIVE LENS OR MIRROR, BEFORE LIGHT ENTERS THE TELESCOPE, SHOULD BE USED WITH A TELESCOPE.

DON’T RISK YOUR EYESIGHT !

Partial Eclipse times as seen from Scranton Pennsylvania

2017 Aug 21 2:18 pm Partial Solar Eclipse, First Contact, Alt=60°

2017 Aug 21 2:40 pm Partial Solar Eclipse, Mid-eclipse, Alt=54°

2017 Aug 21 3:57 pm Partial Solar Eclipse, Last Contact, Alt=42°

The crescent Moon in the evening sky at sunset on August 25th will be placed some 5 degrees to the upper left of the planet Jupiter.

September

The crescent Moon and brilliant planet Venus in the east on morning of Sept 17th will be key to star hopping to locate two other planets.  With the Moon 6 degrees to the upper right of Venus, draw an imaginary line from the Moon through Venus to the horizon where you may see the planets Mars and Mercury low near the horizon. Mercury is the brighter and closer to the horizon. Dimmer Mars is just a 1/2 degrees (size of the full Moon) to the upper right of Mercury hugged in a binocular view. Will be difficult due to fading twilight and requires a good clear horizon.

The following morning, Sept 18th, the crescent Moon is now place between Venus and the planets Mercy and Mars still hugged together. If you see another object close to Venus then you have spotted the bright star Regulus.

Jupiter is setting early each evening after sunset. Sept 22nd may be the last opportunity to see the crescent Moon and Jupiter together in the evening sky. The Moon is 7 degrees to the upper left of Jupiter, a clear horizon is need to find the planet.

Starting the last week in September keep a watch on Mars and Venus in the morning sky, as they will perform a close dance in the sky.

Once again you have the chance to see a near First Quarter Moon only 3 degrees above the ringed planet Saturn in SSW horizon on Sept 26th.

October

A conjunction of two planets will take place in the early morning sky is the first week of the month. Mars is rising up in the sky from the horizon, while brilliant Venus is descending quickly to the horizon each passing day. The two planets will pass very close to each, from our viewpoint from the Earth. Physically the two planets are millions of miles apart from each other. Venus will be just 15 arc minutes from the planet dimmer Mars on the morning of Oct 5th.

Watch each morning as Venus sets and Mars rises in the sky, then on the morning of Oct. 17th the thin crescent Moon will be less than 2 degrees right of the planet Mars and 7 degrees above Venus.

During the early evening of Oct 23rd the fat crescent Moon will be to the within 8 degrees of the ringed planet Saturn. On the following evening, Oct 24th, the Moon will be 3 degrees closer to Saturn and to the upper left.

November

The two brightest planets will pass each other in the morning sky, however the rising sun and the horizon view will make seeing these two close to each other, within 15 arc minutes on Nov 13th, a difficult challenge. Venus outshines Jupiter on it right. the two planets are only 13 degrees to the upper right of the Sun. Venus may be seen in binoculars, depending on the quality of the sky, Jupiter would be difficult

The crescent Moon some 6 degrees to the lower left of -1.8 magnitude Mars on Nov 15th should be visible, if a clear horizon and cloudless skies prevail.

December

In the morning sky the planet Mercury and Venus are too close to the Sun to be seen.  Higher up in the morning sky are the planet Mars and Jupiter. They are join by the fat crescent Moon on the morning of Dec 13th, the Moon less than 5 degrees above Mars, and the Red planet 12 degrees to the upper right of Jupiter. the following morning, Dec14th the crescent Moon is 4 degrees above bright planet Jupiter.  This is also the peak days of the Gemini meteor shower.

Will the sky be clear?

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

The Observatory is located in Fleetville, PA, a short distance from the College’s main campus in La Plume. It is located at the intersection of Route 107 and Hack Road. To get to the Observatory from I-81, Take Exit 202 off 81 and head west towards Fleetville.

The Observatory is conveniently located near interstate 81. From I-81 take exit 202 onto Route 107 west towards Fleetville. Travel 1.8 miles and turn left onto Hack Road. Observatory entrance road 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 road is on your left.

Print local map.

All Sky Camera

TGC Observatory contributes to astronomy data by means of an All Sky camera to detect and capture images of fireball meteors and bolides. You can see whatever it does catch at Sky Sentinel Network.

Observatory

Keystone College