The University of North Texas' Astronomy Department will be hosting an open house on August 11, 2018 at the Rafes Urban Astronomy Center in Ponder, TX. The event coincides with the Perseid Meteor Shower, arguably one of the best meteor showers for viewing in the Northern hemisphere this year, with approximately 50-100 meteors entering the Earth's atmosphere per hour at its peak. Astronomy Laboratory Director, Ron DiIulio (who also goes by "Starman"), calculates that guests should see one bright meteor flash every minute or so.
"The Perseid meteor shower is a great opportunity to see meteors and their firework-like flashes," said Starman. "This year should be especially dramatic because the moon will not be visible, making it easier to see even the faintest meteor trails as they streak across the moonless sky."
During the open house, multiple telescopes will be available for guests to look at Jupiter, Mars, and Saturn up close. There will be a presentation on the Perseid Meteor Shower, explaining what it is and how to observe it, followed by an observation of the shower from the safety of the fenced outdoor areas within the Rafes Urban Astronomy Center. Attendees are welcome and encouraged to bring cameras, retractable lawn chairs and/or blankets, and non-alcoholic beverages. Admission is limited to 200 guests.
The open house and watch party will begin on Saturday, August 11 at 9 p.m. and end at 2 a.m. on August 12. There is a $5 admission fee per person. Rafes Urban Astronomy Center is located at 2350 Tom Cole Road in Ponder, TX. The secluded location makes for an ideal sky-gazing area. The UNT Sky Theatre planetarium, located on the main UNT Campus, will also be presenting a special program that evening alongside its regularly scheduled shows, and combination prices will be offered for those who wish to attend both the 8pm planetarium show and the open house.
The Astronomy Department is part of the UNT's College of Science, offering academic programs and educational resources, as well as public and private events. For more information visit http://astronomy.unt.edu or call Starman at 940-369-8214 between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. View the planetarium shows and schedule at http://astronomy.unt.edu/nowshowing.