Eagle Eye Observatory

ASTRONOMICALLY SPEAKING, May 2022

May is a great time to enjoy the night sky. Temperatures are pleasant and the weather is generally good. By the weekend of May 6th, the Eta Aquariids Meteor Shower will peak providing a wonderful view, as the Crescent Moon will set early evening and the sky will remain dark the remainder of the night. This meteor shower is the result of 1P/Halley, (Halley’s Comet).

May the 7th look directly overhead in the constellation Cancer at the First Quarter Moon and just 3 degrees south is the Beehive Cluster (M44). Bring binoculars for best viewing. This cluster is the closest open cluster to our Solar System and has several hot blue stars at around 600 light-years from Earth.

On the night of May 15th, you may enjoy a Total Eclipse of the Moon beginning at Sunset look East and watch the Eclipse progress as the Moon rises.

The Great Hercules Cluster (M13) was discovered by Sir Edmond Halley in 1714 and is visible to the naked eye on clear nights when the Moon is below the horizon. It appears about 1/3 the distance from Eta to Zeta Herculis on the western side of the Keystone in the constellation Hercules. During May this cluster can be found low in the ENE sky after Dusk and proceeds up across the sky all night each night during the month. The Hercules Cluster is located 23 thousand light-years from Earth and contains approximately 300 thousand stars.

Another bright globular cluster is Messier 3 (NGC5272) located overhead at nightfall in the constellation Canes Venatici. This cluster is 33 thousand light-years away and contains 500 thousand stars. Both (M13) and (M33) are wonderful celestial objects to see and give a sense of Awe and Wonder while looking deep into our Milkyway Galaxy.

During dark moonless nights, there are several more Galaxies visible through the observatory telescopes.

Right at Dawn just as the sky begins to brighten, several objects begin to rise, first Jupiter, Mars, and the Moon, then Venus rises just before sunrise.

These and many more inspiring celestial objects are in store for your viewing pleasure when making reservations to visit the Eagle Eye Observatory.

Clear Skies,

Jim Sheets

Astronomer

 

The observatory is a sliding-roof design with two independently retractable roof sections.  Each roof section moves to create a variable size, side-viewing slit, or both sections may be moved to open the entire structure to the sky. Eagle Eye Observatory provides modern telescopes with computer-enhanced imaging and astronomical instruments.

Telescopes include:

  • 14” clear aperture Celestron 1400HD f/11 reflector with Edge Technology, fully automated on an equatorial mount with Go-To targeting,
  • 12” aperture Meade Schmidt Cassegrain f/10 Reflector on an Alt/Az fork mount with Go-To Technology.
  • 11” Celestron Schmidt Cassegrain f/10 converted to f/2 via HyperStar lens with Mallincam Xterminator video camera.
  • Orion ED100 100mm Apochromatic Refractor Telescope.
  • Coronado Solarmax 90mm Double Stack dedicated Solar Telescope.

The observatory is staffed by a qualified astronomer and is open:

  • Wednesday Sessions: *10pm, 11pm, 12pm
  • Thursday Sessions: *10pm, 11pm, 12pm
  • Friday Sessions:  *10p, 11p, 12pm
  • Saturday Sessions: 10p, 11p, 12pm
  • Sunday Sessions: *10pm, 11p, 12pm

Sessions are held weather permitting. When the weather does not permit telescope viewing, EEO provides programs via a large screen television with real time sky software, videos, and comprehensive interactive Q/A sessions at the observatory. Indoor educational sessions are sometimes held when rain and cold weather prevails.

Observatory experiences are $10 plus tax per person. Overnight guests may attend all sessions with Fridays, and Saturday reserved exclusively for overnight guests.

*The public is welcome to attend only the *10pm EEO session on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Friday, and Sundays.   In addition to the $10 plus tax per person for the EEO session, non-overnight guests pay a Day-Use Park-fee of $5 for seniors, veterans and first responders, children 7 and under are free, and all others are $10 each.  The public guest must stop by the resort front desk to obtain a ticket that will allow entry in to the EEO session.  The public may arrive early and enjoy the other resort amenities like the nature trails, lakefront, and firepit.  To reserve and prepay call 512-334-2070 ext. 1.

Each EEO session is one-hour with a maximum of 20 guests per session. Private sessions are available for $200 plus taxes per session for a maximum of 20 people. 

Please note, you must cancel 24 hours prior to your session if you are unable to make it or the EEO entry fee is not refundable.  This policy applies to all parks guests who are staying overnight or just visiting for the day/evening.

This is a very popular program. Please call Guest Services before arrival at 512-334-2070 ext. 1 to make a reservation or inquire when you check-in. 

BYOT (Bring Your Own Telescope)

Guests may now bring their own telescope and set up on one of the 31 observatory pads located on the grounds just outside the observatory during regular observatory hours. There is no charge for setting up on a pad and enjoying the fabulous dark sky for astronomical viewing. We ask that you not disturb or enter the observatory when the astronomer conducts sessions. Arrive before nightfall to safely setup your equipment.