Crane set for first open house

Washburn University’s Physics/Astronomy department is hosting its first open house of the semester at Crane Observatory, located in Stouffer Science Hall on the fourth floor from 9:00 to 10:00 p.m. on Sept. 1. Students and the public are invited to come view the cosmos up close and personal.

Mark Smith, professor of physics and astronomy at Washburn, said that there will be some exciting events going on that night. The Crescent Moon will be visible as it sets, as well as the Andromeda Galaxy. Saturn, too, may still be visible through one of two other telescopes available to view the heavens.

The Warner and Swasey refractor telescope, built in 1898, made its home at Washburn in 1902.

“The observatory is one of those things that has been around for a long time. We just painted the dome recently so it’s looking great for the open house,” said Smith.

The Crane Observatory helps many students to learn about the universe in which we live.

“While the observatory can only be operated at night, the planetarium can be operated during the day so we see a lot of different groups like Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and area schools come to check it out,” said Smith.

Observatory open houses will be held on the second Thursday of each month and attendance is limited to 50 seats. A schedule of the Crane Observatory open house dates and times is available in the physics/astronomy office, room 210 in Stouffer.

Later this fall, Orion and Jupiter will take the stage for the open houses. On June 6, 2012 there will also be a Venus Transit. During this event Venus will cross in front of the Sun and be visible in the evening. This takes place about every 106 years. It will not happen again until December 2117.

“The Venus transit will be happening next year and we’ll be doing something special for it,” said Smith. “It’s an event that will only happen once in peoples’ lifetimes that are alive right now.”

In the spring of 2012, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and the Moon will all visible at the same time. Then in 2020 there will be an eclipse of the Moon. These events are something to look forward to in the future.

For more information on these events, contact the physics/astronomy department at 670-2264.