100 Hours of Astronomy – Historic Telescope at Northwestern

April 2, 2009 at 5:53 am 4 comments


Earlier this year I made a brief post drawing attention to the International Year of Astronomy, i.e., this year. Risa Wechsler at Cosmic Variance also made a post on 29-March, and I am sure there are many others.

The idea is to build a sense of community among amateur astronomers and to promote an appreciation of science by ordinary citizens.

Northwestern University, and in particular, the Department of Physics and Astronomy, is hosting a special Skygazing Event at Dearborn Observatory located on the sometimes verdant campus in Evanston, Illinois.

On Saturday evening, April 4th, visitors will be able to gaze through the telescope (pictured above) at the moon and Saturn, as well as connect in live webcast to similar activities around the world. Astronomers from NWU will be on hand for discussions and to answer questions. Details are given in a press release.


Entry filed under: Astronomy.

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4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. dorigo  |  April 2, 2009 at 4:28 pm

    Hi Michael,

    good luck with the event! I know that most of these session are organized when there is some moon to see -this makes it easier to have success even if there are a few clouds around, since the moon is always a beautiful target. As for Saturn, it is guaranteed to awe beginners, although unfortunately this year the rings are almost at zero tilt, so one barely sees them, with a diminished return. But there should be other good targets, like M35, M44, and M13 – open and globular clusters which make quite a show even in nghts of close to full moon.

    As for me, what really triggers me are galaxies in which I can see structure. For this one needs dark skies, so it is almost regularly off limits for reasonable gatherings (i.e. ones that do not aim at deserted places where nobody comes!). In fact, galaxies are faint, and it does not matter how large a telescope is, since what matters is contrast, and contrast requires dark skies.


  • 2. Michael Schmitt  |  April 3, 2009 at 4:31 am

    Thanks, Tommaso! I’ll pass along your suggestions to my astronomer colleagues. Unfortunately I won’t be able to view anything through the telescope at Northwestern since I am at CERN right now, for most of the rest of this year.

    Interesting that “contrast” is crucial for viewing galaxies and other far-away objects. This seems closely tied to a combination of S/B and resolution. It would be amusing to describe a narrow Higgs peak on top of a small background as an image with “high contrast”! 😉

  • 3. dorigo  |  April 3, 2009 at 2:40 pm

    True. The larger the telescope, the smaller S/N signals can be seen, because more S and more N are gathered. So the larger scope is like a higher luminosity measurement… But believe me, making amateur astronomers understand that a larger scope does not increase contrast (S/N) is tough!


  • 4. Peter John Jose  |  December 3, 2013 at 7:51 pm

    A good opportunity for those who are studying the moon and the saturn. For sure many will grab this opportunity to explore the universe. With that telescope they can gather valuable information.


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