A press release from the Tulare Astronomical Association:
Spectacular Venus-Jupiter Conjunction! Public Viewing of Possibly 5 Planets, 4 Galaxies, 4 Double Stars, 4 Open Clusters, a Globular Cluster & 6 Planetary Nebulas!
Shortly after sunset on November 23rd, Venus and Jupiter, the two brightest planets, put on a thrilling show by appearing like they are headed for a collision (although Jupiter is actually 4 times farther away). This dramatic twilight pairing called a conjunction places them merely 1.5 degrees apart- just a finger’s width at arm’s length! This is just one of the many exciting celestial phenomenon you can observe during Tulare Astronomical Association’s Public Viewing Event on Saturday November 23rd. This special Star Party will take place at the Arthur Pursell Observatory 7 miles southwest of Tulare. Because Venus and Jupiter will sink below the horizon shortly after 6 PM, this unique event will begin promptly at 5:30 PM (please be on time) and officially end at 9:00 PM. The cost is $5 for those 12 and older. Before Jupiter slides below the horizon, we will probably be able observe 3 of it Galilean moons (Io, Europa, & Callisto) through a telescope as well as the rings and possibly some moons of Saturn. During this 5:30 -6:00 PM period of viewing the Venus-Jupiter conjunction, feel free to eat any picnic dinner or snacks that you brought; a table and trash cans will be provided, but please bring your own chair. As the sky darkens and stars appear, we will congregate for a short tour of the constellations and bright stars visible in the night sky. Visitors will then be able to look through the TAA’s 12.5 ″ Cave Astrola (Newtonian) Telescope in the observing dome as well as through about 6 TAA members personal telescopes. Each telescope will feature a different celestial object. Featured telescopic objects will include Uranus with its blue-greenish hue, as well as blue-gray Neptune, the farthest planet from the Sun; incredibly, we may see a total of 6 of the 8 planets (if you include the Earth)! Viewing conditions are forecasted to be excellent, dark, moonless, and clear, perfect for stargazing; ideal for viewing more challenging targets like Planetary Nebulas including the Blue Snowball Nebula (NGC 7662), the Dumbbell Nebula (M 27, NGC 6853), the Little Dumbbell Nebula (M76, NGC 650, NGC 651), the Ring Nebula (M57), the Cat’s Eye Nebula (NGC 6543), and the Blinking Planetary Nebula (NGC 6826), as well as several spiral galaxies like NGC 891, the Sculptor Galaxy (NGC 253), and the Great Andromeda Galaxy (M31). M31 is the nearest major galaxy to the Milky Way; being 2.5 million light-years from Earth, it is the farthest object that can be seen with your naked eye! This spiral galaxy contains an estimated one trillion stars, about twice the number found in our Milky Way. Telescopes will also be used to separate several Double Stars including Polaris (the North Star), Sigma Cassiopeiae, Eta Cassiopeiae, as well as the colorful Alberio, known as the most beautiful double star. If you have binoculars, bring them; they provide excellent viewing of open clusters like the Pleiades (M45) known as the “Seven Sisters,” the Owl Cluster (NGC 457)- which contains 2 bright star that look like owl eyes, Messier 52 (NGC 7654), the famous Double Cluster (NGC 869, NGC 884), the Globular Cluster Messier 15 (NGC 7078), and possibly even Uranus and our own Milky Way Galaxy. Bring your family and friends, and create some lifetime memories together.
Directions: The Arthur Pursell Observatory (APO) is located at 9242 Ave 184 Tulare, about half way between Tulare and Tipton. Travel on HWY 99 and turn west on Ave 184; drive west about 3.4 miles on Ave 184 until you reach the signed APO entranced driveway (about 0.5 miles beyond the Road 96 intersection). Drive north on this entrance road a short distance to the APO parking area.
For further information, please contact Reece Williford (559) 592-4379 or [email protected]
- Dress comfortably (expect cool or cold weather)
- Bring your own lawn chair
- Only Red light flashlights can be used in the observing area to preserve our “night vision” allowing everyone to see much fainter objects. White light can be used in the parking lot.
- Please be on time. The gates will open one half hour before the posted start time.