Welcome to the Oregon Observatory Blog

Check back here frequently for updates on upcoming events!

Comet ISON Brightens

on Thursday, 14 November 2013.

Gee, go to Arizona, and the comet gets good? Well, if you are in Arizona, come see us at our booth at the Tucson Convention Center…. If not, check out Comet ISON

Or check this link to Sky and Telescope's website on Comet Lovejoy which includes a guide to finding both Comet ISON and the nearby Comet Lovejoy for the next week



Planetary Alignment, and Rare Viewing of Mercury!

on Tuesday, 04 June 2013.

At the end of May, Jupiter, Venus, and Mercury all clustered together for a rare triple conjunction of planets. All three were easily visible near one another in binoculars shortly after sunset. Although Jupiter is now slinking lower and lower in the sky and will no longer be visible when the Oregon Observatory's summer viewing schedule begins, Venus will be rising higher and the phase of this inner planet will become more apparent as summer progresses.

Mercury is also making a brief (as always) appearance. Because the innermost planet completes a rotation of the sun in less than a quarter of the time it takes the Earth to, it is typically only visible for a few weeks at a time (and this period varies greatly because of the elliptical or oval shape of Mercury's orbit). Come out for night viewing before June 22 if you would like to catch a view of this shy planet.

Though these planets set into the western horizon by the end of our program, Saturn is visible quite high in the sky throughout the night in all of its' ringed glory.

Lastly, the summer Milky Way is finally making itself faintly visible on moonless nights, and with it numerous nebulae, star clusters, and galaxies visible only during the summer months.

Hope to see you here!

Jovian Giants Through June!

on Tuesday, 09 April 2013.

Jupiter and Saturn grace our skies, and Venus moves to join them soon

Jupiter, king of the planets, will continue to outshine all other stars in the sky until later this April, when Venus (which was very nearly on the exact opposite side of the Sun on April 1) will begin making an appearance in the western sky shortly after sunset. The only objects brighter than these two planets in the sky are the Moon and our Sun (join us for Solar viewing every Saturday 11am-2pm). We will still be able to view Jupiter until mid-June, but as one gas giant prepares to leave our skies, another approaches. 

Saturn, lord of the rings, is finally rising early enough for viewing during our evening program (Wednesdays and Saturdays 8pm-10pm). Check the weather forecast (on our Astronomy Resources page) and dress warmly for spectacular viewing of the two largest planets in the Solar System and some of their moons as well as our own Moon (you can find a Moon phase calendar on our resources page as well, generally, we can view the Moon three days after new Moon until one day after full).

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 http://spaceweather.com for more information and updates.