Wheaton College Observatory News

Observatory Closed During the Summer

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The observatory is closed for the summer. Regular opening hours will resume late August. We also will be offering a Friday night program in the Fall of 2012 for the general public with a lecture and viewing. Please check later this summer for details.


Venus Transit (June 5)

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The observatory will open for the transit of Venus over the sun on June 5. This is the last chance to see this rare event until 2117. We have several telescopes that are safe to point at the Sun and through which you can follow the transit. The transit starts at 5:04PM and is no longer visible after sunset (8:27PM). We will be open the entire time, weather permitting. Please check back for more information later.

M95 + SN2012aw

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Supernova SN2012awWhile we are still testing the new telescope, we also have the opportunity to shoot some nice images. This image shows the barred-spiral galaxy M95 with the newly discovered supernova in it (SN2012aw). The supernova was first discovered on March 15 and has since then increased significantly in brightness. The explosion is the result of a massive star who at the end of its life runs out of fuel, and collapses under its own weight. After a fraction of a second this collapse, however, is reversed to an explosion, which we see as a supernova. This supernova produces almost as much energy as the whole galaxy, and they are among the most energetic events in the universe. The galaxy M95 itself has a distance of about 38 million light years.

The image is made with the new Planewave 24'' telescope, with an exposure time of 150 seconds (lum).

New Telescope Coming Soon

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The new 24 inch CDK Planewave Instruments telescope is scheduled to arrive on Tuesday March 6. It will be installed during the subsequent days. We will post pictures of the arrival and installation on the website.

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