Lake Afton Observatory

NASA.gov

A rare celestial event will take place on Monday: The planet Mercury will pass in front of the sun.

A transit of mercury is when the planet passes between the earth and the sun, becoming visible during the daytime. Transits of Mercury only happen 13 times a century, and not all of them are visible from all parts of the world.

“If we can get breaks in the clouds, we’re going to see a little tiny round shadow of the planet Mercury cross the observable face of the sun," says Harold Henderson, director of the Lake Afton Public Observatory.

Deborah Shaar / KMUW

A plan to reopen the Lake Afton Public Observatory is moving forward.

Wichita State University closed the 34-year old observatory last August as attendance had dipped in recent years. Ever since the Lake Afton Public Observatory closed, a local group of astronomers has been working to reopen the facility.

Deborah Shaar / KMUW

A new plan to keep the Lake Afton Public Observatory open is expected to be presented to the Sedgwick County Commissioners on Wednesday morning.

A group of astronomy enthusiasts wants the county’s approval to take over operation of the Observatory after Wichita State University steps aside next week.

The plan to save stargazing at Lake Afton can’t come soon enough: People have been rushing to get in a visit to the Observatory before the Aug. 22 closing.

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center / flickr Creative Commons

The Lake Afton Observatory is holding a special Father's Day weekend event called Moons, Rings, and Other Things.

It's Your First And Last Chance To See This Comet

Mar 12, 2013
Chris_Samuel/Flickr--Creative Commons

A comet named Pan-STARRS is visiting our part of the solar system and will be visible in the Northern Hemisphere for a couple of weeks.

The comet was discovered in June 2011 by a team of observers in Hawaii while doing a routine sweep of the sky and they named the comet after the telescope they were using.

Greg Novacek, director of the Lake Afton Observatory, says hopeful observers should look west.

"They’ll see the very think crescent moon just slightly south of due west," says Novacke. "And the comet will be just slightly to the south of the crescent moon.”

Now through mid-May, the mysterious red planet of Mars will be visible through the Lake Afton Observatory’s telescope.

Since early 2010, Mars has been too far away to observe much detail.

But about every 26 months, Mars is on the same side of the Sun as Earth and within viewing distance of 100 million miles.

Visible details will include the planet’s white polar cap as well as black areas of the mostly red-soiled terrestrial planet.

For this occasion, the observatory is presenting a special program tomorrow and Saturday evenings beginning at 8:30 p.m.

Now through mid-May, the mysterious red planet of Mars will be visible through the Lake Afton Observatory’s telescope.

Since early 2010, Mars has been too far away to observe much detail.

But about every 26 months, Mars is on the same side of the Sun as Earth and within viewing distance of 100 million miles.

Visible details will include the planet’s white polar cap as well as black areas of the mostly red-soiled terrestrial planet.

For this occasion, the observatory is presenting a special program tomorrow and Saturday evenings beginning at 8:30 p.m.