Inside Rensselaer
* Hirsch Observatory
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Hirsch Observatory Invites the Public To See the Stars
Rensselaer invites members of the community to the Hirsch Observatory to view planets, stars, and galaxies with the observatory’s 16-inch telescope. The observatory will be open to the public every Saturday evening through November from 8 to 10 p.m. as part of its annual open house program. Anyone from the community is invited to come learn about our universe from Rensselaer students and faculty. Children are welcome.

“Last year, we had nearly a thousand visitors to the observatory,” said Dan Elton, a Rensselaer senior and president of the Rensselaer Astrophysical Society. “This year we are particularly excited to view the disappearance of Saturn’s rings. This virtual thinning and disappearance of the icy rings only happens once every 14 to 15 years.”

Elton also noted that the comet Lulin, which is quickly moving toward Earth, will reach peak brightness on Feb. 24. “It will be just bright enough to see with the naked eye and should look spectacular with the telescope.”

Hirsch Observatory
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The Hirsch Observatory, located on top of the Jonsson-Rowland Science Center, is used and managed primarily by the Rensselaer Astrophysical Society, a student-run organization that allows budding astronomers to hone their skills on a strong telescope. The society will be hosting the open house.

This year, the society was selected to be a member of the NASA Night Sky Network, a nationwide coalition of astronomy societies committed to sharing their time, their telescopes, and their enthusiasm for astronomy with their local communities.

The observatory serves as one of the only observatories in the Capital Region with regular public viewings. It also is a tool for the next generation of astronomers to get hands-on experience with equipment comparable to that found in a national observatory.

All visitors to the Hirsch Observatory are encouraged to dress warmly. Check the Observatory’s Web site at www.rpi.edu/dept/phys/observatory to see if the evening’s skies will be clear enough for a good viewing. The open house will be held regardless of conditions.
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Send comments to:
Inside Rensselaer, Strategic Communications and External Relations
1000 Troy Building, 110 Eighth Street, Troy, N.Y. 12180 or to leibat@rpi.edu.
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Inside Rensselaer
Volume 3, Number 2, February 13, 2009
©2009 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
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