Astronomy Open House returns to West campus
An opportunity to view the rare alignment of Jupiter and Venus will be the main attraction as the annual Astronomy Open House returns to Arizona State University’s West campus, 4701 W. Thunderbird Road, on March 15. Hosted by New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences faculty member Paul Schmidtke, the stargazing event runs from 7-9 p.m.
Due to construction of new buildings on the West campus, the event’s location has moved. It will be held east of the Faculty and Administration Building Annex (FABNX) on the east side of campus. The event is free. Parking is available in Lot 12, the visitor lot off University Way North. Visitor parking costs $2 per hour.
“We’ve been hosting this event at the West campus at least once each semester since 1997,” said Schmidtke, an astronomer with professional interests in the area of double-star astronomy. “For many who join us, it is the first chance they have had to explore the sky through the lens of a telescope.”
Several types of telescopes will be available for public viewing, including some provided by members of the Phoenix Astronomical Society, which is once again supporting the activities.
Schmidtke said the emphasis on March 15 will be the Jupiter-Venus alignment in the western sky, but Mars, star clusters and a variety of nebulae will also be visible. “Depending on sky conditions, there are many intriguing sights that we expect to be able to see,” he said.
“This is a wonderful opportunity for community members to come to the West campus and peek through a telescope at what this desert sky has to offer,” said Schmidtke, who teaches general studies astronomy classes at the West campus. “People are so fascinated with the heavens because observing the sky is one activity that binds everyone together. Some people simply appreciate the beauty, while others want to know the details of how things work.”