Observatory offers open house Sept. 22 and Oct. 6

MIDDLEBURY — Fall is often a good time for stargazing because of the cool nights and the earth pointing in a direction that lends itself to viewing galaxies outside our own.
Those wishing to enjoy celestial night views with the help of a professional sky watcher will get several chances this fall.
First, the Mittelman Observatory at Middlebury College and Middlebury Physics is hosting stargazing open house nights this autumn. These observatory events are scheduled for two Friday evenings — Sept. 22 and Oct. 6 — from 8-9:30 p.m., weather permitting.
Saturn will be in the evening sky on these dates. A variety of interesting stars, star clusters, and nebulae will also be visible through the observatory’s telescopes. The Mittelman includes a 24-inch telescope in a dome and smaller telescopes on the roof.
The Mittelman Observatory is located atop McCardell Bicentennial Hall on the west side of the Middlebury College campus. To reach the observatory, follow Route 125 west from the Middlebury village center, through campus, and down the hill. Turn right on Bicentennial Way toward the parking lot, enter the building, and take the elevator to the 7th and top floor.
Observatory open house nights are free and open to the public. However, these events will take place only if the sky is expected to be mostly clear. Please check the observatory website at go.middlebury.edu/observatory or call the observatory at 443-2266 after 6 p.m. on the evening of the event for weather status.
A third stargazing opportunity will take place on Monday, Sept. 25, at an event sponsored by the Salisbury Conservation Commission and the Lake Dunmore/Fern Lake Association.
Retired Middlebury College physicist Crispin Butler will give another of his “Reading the Night Sky” presentations on that evening from 7:30 to 9 p.m. at the Turner Residence at 662 Leland Road in West Salisbury.
Attendees will find and discuss stars, constellations and planets (particularly Saturn). They will also look for the passage of the International Space Station.
Attendees may wish to bring binoculars, telescopes, star charts, smart phones, or a dim flashlight, though they are not needed. A blanket and/or a jacket may be needed. The presentation is free and open to the public. If the sky is not clear on the eve of the event, call 352-4442 for status.

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