June 16, 2015

Jessica Pope
Communications and Media Relations Coordinator

VSU Observatory Announces Summer Viewing Sessions

VALDOSTA — The Valdosta State University Observatory will open to the public from 9 p.m. to 10 p.m. June 19-20 and June 27-July 3 for all ages to catch a glimpse of Venus, Jupiter, and additional wonders of the evening sky. Admission is free of charge. 

“The planets Venus and Jupiter are meeting in the sky on June 30 this summer …,” said Dr. Martha A. Leake, a professor of physics and astronomy in the Department of Physics, Astronomy, and Geosciences. “Astronomers at the VSU Observatory will help you follow the approach and conjunction of these two brightest planets in the West after sunset.”

Weather permitting, VSU telescopes will be used to look at each object in more detail. To see them with the unaided eye, Leake suggested simply locating the two brightest objects in the West, after sunset. Venus is the brighter of the two and looks much like a spotlight when the sky is darker, she said. Jupiter now lies above and to the East of Venus and is not as bright.

“… Jupiter and Venus are brighter than any star in the sky,” she continued. “The only brighter object in the evening sky will occasionally be the moon. During the observing sessions, one can see that Venus is a crescent in shape and that Jupiter has several moons and atmospheric stripes. Turning the telescope to Saturn, over in the Southeast, one can see its rings and brightest moons. And we’ll be able to see the moon on several of the proposed observing dates.”

The VSU Observatory is located on the roof of Nevins Hall. Visitors should enter the side entrance across from Brown Hall and take the elevator or stairs to the fourth floor.

Parking is available in front of Nevins Hall and across Patterson Street.

Contact the Department of Physics, Astronomy, and Geosciences at (229) 333-5752 for more information.

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