November Astronomy Program Focuses on Four Planets

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Get ready to look to the skies on Saturday, Nov. 22 at Hobbs State Park-Conservation Area in Rogers, where the powerful telescopes of the Sugar Creek Astronomical Society will be focused on four of the planets in our solar system – Venus, Mars, Uranus, and Neptune.

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Venus will be blazing in the west. Mars will be in the southwestern sky. Uranus and Neptune will be further east. Uranus, the seventh farthest planet from our sun, is almost two billion miles from us. Blue Neptune is the farthest planet from the sun at almost three billion miles away.

You’ll also be looking for the summer triangle, which will be high in the northwestern sky. The Summer Triangle is an imaginary triangle drawn between the stars Altair, Deneb, and Vega, the brightest stars in the three constellations of Aquila, Cygnus, and Lyra.

Another night sky target will be the Andromeda Galaxy (M31) in the eastern sky. Jack McDaniel, president of the Sugar Creek group, says “This is the only galaxy visible to the naked eye, and is very visible viewing with binoculars.  M31 is similar in structure to our own galaxy, the Milky Way.  In addition to M31, we will be able to see M31’s satellite galaxy M32.  Because of the vast distances involved, we will be observing these galaxies as they were over two million years ago.  In addition to M31 and M32, the Pinwheel Galaxy (M33) will be almost directly overhead in the constellation Triangulum.”

As if all of that weren’t enough, the group will also look through telescopes to see the globular star cluster M15 in the constellation Hercules. Just 30,000 light years away, M15 is a tightly packed mass of 100,000 stars that may have a black hole at its center.

The program is free. A beginner class starts in the park visitor center at 4 p.m. with night viewing getting underway about 5 p.m. The visitor center is on Ark. 12 just east of the Ark.12/War Eagle Road intersection. For more information call:  479-789-5000.

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