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Public invited to observatory night Nov. 2

Barry McNamara
MONMOUTH, Ill. – Weather permitting, Monmouth College will offer the public an opportunity to look 2.5 million light years into space on Nov. 2.

The College will host an open observatory night from 7-9 p.m. at the Center for the Science and Business.

The event will feature activities outside, inside and on top of the building, which houses the Adolphson Observatory and the 20-inch Trubeck Telescope.

“We’ll have telescopes at the front of the building – the Broadway side – and activities inside on the second floor, and we’ll be taking folks up to the rooftop observatory,” said physics professor Mike Solontoi.

The event, which is free, is suitable and suggested for all ages, although the Adolphson Observatory is only accessible via a flight of stairs.

“We plan on observing the Moon, Jupiter and Saturn,” said Solontoi. “We may also take a look at the Ring Nebula, the Andromeda Galaxy and/or a nice star cluster if the night has nice clear air.”

Solontoi said that the Trubeck Telescope allows Monmouth students to see much farther into space than was previously possible.

“We routinely look at the Whirlpool Galaxy, about 23 million light years away from Earth, and we can still see structure in it through just an eye-piece,” he said. “With a dark enough night, or using a camera, we can easily see objects that are tens to hundreds of times further away.”

Inside the Center for the Science and Business, activities will include a space where children can make their own constellations and a demonstration of making a model comet out of dry ice.