Eagle Eye Observatory

ASTRONOMICALLY SPEAKING, August 2022

Stargazing here in Texas can be somewhat challenging during the hot summertime. August is no exception. However, nights are beginning to get longer. Therefore, the temperature will become more tolerable as the nights progress.

If you are fortunate enough to be away from city lights, August is a great time to view the Milkyway Galaxy. Under clear dark skies, the band of the Sagittarius arm of the galaxy is high overhead for an hour or two before and after midnight. Looking high in the sky is when it is the most vivid. Starting in the south on the horizon between the constellation Sagittarius and scorpions, running north through the summer triangle, and ending in the constellation Cassiopeia on the northern horizon. It will be best viewed at the beginning of the month and the end of the month. The Moon will be full on the 11th, and the bright Moon will wash out the majority of foreground stars as well as the Milkyway.

Another August delight is the Perseids Meteor shower. This is usually the best meteor shower in the summer. It can produce 60/70 meteors per hour on average. This shower is the result of the comet Swift-Tuttle, a periodic comet that orbits the Sun every 133 years, leaving a tail as it nears the Sun. We, here on Earth plow through the comet’s tail every summer on the night of August 12/13. However, this month the Full Moon occurs just one day before the peak of the Perseids, which will make only the brightest events visible.

The August skies offer many other wonderful objects to view through telescopes. Looking south again into the Scorpius, Ophiuchus, and Sagittarius regions of the sky are many emission nebulae, star clusters, reflection nebulae, and star-forming regions. Looking straight up into the constellation Hercules is the best and brightest globular star cluster in the August sky. Located in the Keystone asterism of Hercules is M13, the Hercules Globular Cluster. This is a group of approximately 300,000 stars that have gravitationally migrated together to form a globe of very old stars, most of which are 10 to 11 billion years old. This cluster is approximately 23 thousand light-years from Earth. One light year is about 6 trillion miles.

looking up at the Summer Triangle of bright stars. The northernmost star is named Deneb. It is the alpha (brightest star) in the constellation Cygnus (the Swans’ tail feathers). Move south 22 degrees through the Milkyway to a star called Albireo (the head of the Swan). To the unaided eye, Albireo looks like a single star. Through a telescope, it is revealed to be a pair of stars colored indigo and gold. The gold star is a stable helium-fusing giant of class K3 and around 4400 K temperature. The indigo (blue color) star is a class B, about 11,000 K. These stars are located 380 and 400 light-years respectively away from Earth.

The planet round-up is still a late-night adventure. The first planet to rise in the east is Saturn, which clears the local horizon at about 10:45 pm, followed by Jupiter, Mars, Venus, and then Mercury just before sunrise.

When the sky is dark (moonless) there are a few galaxies visible. M51 (Whirlpool Galaxy), M101 (Pinwheel Galaxy), and around midnight the great Andromeda Galaxy (M31) is high enough in the eastern sky to be a great view through binoculars or a telescope. On excellent dark sky nights, the Andromeda galaxy can be glimpsed with the unaided eye. It is the only galaxy bright enough and close enough to see without optical aid. (2.5 million light-years away).

Come out to the Eagle Eye Observatory at Canyon of the Eagles Resort and enjoy the view.

Clear Skies,

Jim Sheets

Astronomer

 

Now through October 31, 2022, the Eagle Eye Observatory (EEO) program fee is included in the guestroom, RV, and campsite rates.  Guests must sign up through Guests Services. Availability is based on a first-come, first-serve basis. 

Day visitors may attend any session on any night the observatory is open with availability by paying $20 per person (all ages) inclusive of applicable taxes and fees.  

On Saturday, September 3, & Sunday, September 4, 2022, Canyon of the Eagles will offer a complimentary astronomy slideshow at 3pm in a meeting room.

The observatory is staffed by a dedicated and knowledgeable astronomer and is now open daily. Each EEO session is one hour, with a maximum of 20 guests per session.

  • Monday Sessions:            10pm, 11pm
  • Tuesday Sessions:            10pm, 11pm
  • Wednesday Sessions:    10pm, 11pm
  • Thursday Sessions:          10pm, 11pm
  • Friday Sessions:                 10pm, 11pm, 12am
  • Saturday Sessions:           10pm, 11pm, 12am
  • Sunday Sessions:               10pm, 11pm

**Starting Sunday, September 11th, sessions will begin at 9pm,

**Starting Sunday, November 6th, sessions will begin at 7pm.

Sessions are held weather permitting. When the weather does not allow telescope viewing, EEO provides programs via a large screen television with planetarium software, videos, and comprehensive interactive Q/A sessions at the observatory or a location TBD.

This is a very popular program. For more information or to book your Eagle Eye Observatory experience, please call 512-334-2070.  No refunds, reschedules, or rainchecks apply.  Management reserves the right to change or modify any terms or conditions. 

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.

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. Please set-up your telescope only on the pads located between the parking lot and the observatory, not the circle pads. Please do not drive your car onto the grassy field. Pets and smoking are not permitted. Please use only red flashlights and respect others on the field by remaining quiet and refraining from playing music.