WCSU Observatory to offer spring planetarium shows & sky viewings

Western Connecticut State University will host planetarium shows and telescope viewings of the evening sky during the spring Public Nights series from March 14 through May 16 at the WCSU Planetarium and Observatory on the university’s Westside campus, 43 Lake Ave. Extension in Danbury. Each of the six Saturday events will feature two one-hour planetarium shows, including a new presentation starting at 4 p.m. during March and April and at 5 p.m. during May. The early show has been introduced this spring to accommodate families with children and other individuals who wish to enjoy the planetarium feature without needing to stay out late.

The second planetarium show each evening, starting around sunset, will be followed by telescope viewing of the moon, Venus and prominent star systems, clusters and nebulae visible during the spring months. The WCSU Observatory, located atop a hill near Pinney Hall, offers viewings through a 20-inch, computer-controlled Ritchey-Chretien reflector telescope.

Admission is free and the public is invited; planetarium seating is limited to a maximum of 40 persons and entry will not be allowed once capacity is reached or the show has begun. Limited parking is provided adjacent to the observatory, with more extensive parking available on University Boulevard. Planetarium shows are appropriate for adults and older children and will be canceled only in the event of hazardous road conditions or severe weather that would pose a safety risk. The viewing period will not be offered on evenings when cloud cover prevents sky observations. For updates to confirm plans for a scheduled show and viewing, call (203) 837-8672 on the day of the event.

Following is the schedule of WCSU Planetarium and Observatory Public Nights, with the most prominent visible objects listed in the order of their celestial appearance during the viewing period for the evening:

• March 14: The hourlong planetarium shows will start at 4 p.m. and at 7 p.m., with sky observation following from 8 to 10 p.m. Visible objects will include Venus, the Orion Nebula and Sirius.

• March 28: The hourlong planetarium shows will start at 4 p.m. and at 7 p.m., with sky observation following from 8 to 10 p.m. Visible objects will include the crescent moon, Venus, the Orion Nebula, Sirius and the Beehive star cluster.

• April 4: The hourlong planetarium shows will start at 4 p.m. and at 7:30 p.m., with sky observation following from 8:30 to 10:30 p.m. Visible objects will include the waxing gibbous moon, the double star Mizar and Alcor, and the binary star Algieba.

• April 18: The hourlong planetarium shows will start at 4 p.m. and at 7:30 p.m., with sky observation following from 8:30 to 10:30 p.m. Visible objects will include Algieba, the red giant variable star R Leonis, and Mizar and Alcor.

• May 2: The hourlong planetarium shows will start at 5 p.m. and at 8 p.m., with sky observation following from 9 to 11 p.m. Visible objects will include the waxing gibbous moon, Algieba, Mizar and Alcor, the red giant variable star Y Canum Venaticorum, and the M5 star cluster.
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• May 16: The hourlong planetarium shows will start at 5 p.m. and at 8 p.m., with sky observation following from 9 to 11 p.m. Visible objects will include Mizar and Alcor, and the M5 and M13 star clusters.

For more information, contact the Office of University Relations at (203) 837-8486.

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