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Today in Lansing: MSU Observatory invites residents to gaze at the cosmos


9:30 to 11 p.m.

MSU Observatory

4299 Pavilion Dr.

Click here for event page

Michigan State University astronomers will go over mind boggling facts about our solar system and universe. Hosting public nights twice a month, the observatory opens its doors for real time views of planets and celestial wonders.

“It’s important to relate science to everyone because there are a lot of miscommunications about science,” said public outreach coordinator Huei Sears. “It is good to let people hear it straight from astronomers at a research institution where this science happens.”

Built in 1969, the observatory houses a 24-inch diameter Ritchey-Chretien reflecting telescope equipped with a lens for public viewing.

“During nonpublic hours we usually have a camera attached to it called a CCD. We use it to take pictures of various sources for international collaborations,” said Sears.

There will also be an assortment of 8-inch telescopes for the public to view, said Sears.

“We set them up and they track on their own. We tell it to point at a source and it follows it throughout the night,” said Sears. “It is a way to not wait in line for the bigger telescope.”

Public night will focus on sights within the solar system as well as some deep nebulas, said Sears.

“Normally we point it at the moon, Mars, Venus, Saturn and Jupiter,” said Sears. “Then we go up to fainter sources during the night.”

It can be a daunting to wrap your head around how small the Earth is in relation to the universe, said Sears.

“Even though the Earth is small, and we are very small in relation to everything, I don't think that discounts our experiences, or what we do,” said Sears. “I think it means we should take great care of our planet, and be more environmentally conscious.”

The observatory is used as much as it can be by the university, said Sears.

“During nonpublic nights, we have a group of undergrad astronomers that do research there. Every night it is clear, we have two to three undergrads that do research all night long.”

Hosting public nights is a way to engage with the public by using local resources to spread greater knowledge, said Sears. “We are trying to be more active,” said Sears.

“We want to make this accessible to everyone.”

Weather permitting. Check https://www.facebook.com/MSUObservatory for notice of cancellations.

Other events in Lansing:

Sunset and S'mores

7:30 to 10 p.m., Fenner Nature Center, 2020 E. Mt Hope Ave.

Capitol Lawn Movie Nights: Despicable Me 3

8:45 to 10:45 p.m., Michigan State Capitol, 110 N. Capitol Ave.

Ship of Fools: People Movers Perform on the Michigan Princess

6 to 11 p.m., Michigan Princess, 3004 W. Main St.


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