Stars, planets and galaxies may be out of reach.
But they can be brought into sight through the lenses of telescopes at Baker Observatory.
The observatory, ran by the physics, astronomy and materials science department at Missouri State University, will host its first Public Observing Night since the onset of the pandemic Nov. 5.
The free, family-friendly event will shift to Nov. 6 in case of bad weather.
At this time, the event is full. But those interested in attending can keep up to date on openings and future event details.
Learn more about the public viewing events
Dr. Sarah Morrison, assistant professor of astronomy, shares what attendees can expect from the viewing event.
(Tele)scoping out celestial objects
The telescopes at Baker Observatory allow visitors to discern far more detail than would be visible to the naked eye.
This includes planets like Jupiter and Saturn and other celestial objects.
“The facility is normally closed to the public for research and class purposes,” Morrison said. “The public observing night will be a great opportunity to take advantage of the observatory’s resources. It’s one of very few astronomical facilities in Missouri used both for research and education.”
MSU astronomy faculty and students will be present for the event.
They can help attendees gain a deeper understanding of the glimpse into the galaxies their viewing experience will offer, Morrison shares.
“Attendees can learn more about the telescopes themselves and what they see in the night sky,” Morrison said. “They can also chat with those engaged in research projects involving the observatory.”
How to prepare if you have a reservation
Baker Observatory is located at 1766 Old Hillcrest Road in Fair Grove, Missouri.
Participants should wear masks, sturdy shoes and weather-appropriate clothing.
They should also bring a red flashlight, which preserves night vision. This can help guide their way along the observatory’s entrance and grounds.
Placing cellophane or red tape over a regular flashlight can produce similar night vision abilities.
Carpooling is encouraged due to a limited parking area.
If you did not reserve a spot: Alternative viewing from the comfort of home
All participants in the public observing night event will be required to wear masks while inside the observatory buildings as a safety precaution, Morrison shares.
But those who would prefer to avoid public events can still take a closer look at the night sky from home.
“There are several websites and apps that show what should be in the sky at your location at any time,” Morrison said. “Even looking at the planets through binoculars will reveal details indiscernible to the naked eye, such as the moons of Jupiter or Saturn’s rings.”