Ole Miss Astronomy Hosts Open House Megan swartzfager

UNIVERSITY, Miss.--The Astronomy Department at Ole Miss hosted their most recent open house on Sunday April 9.

The open house, which began at 8:15 p.m. and lasted until 10:30 p.m., was one of many that the department hosts every year. A schedule with upcoming open houses can be found here.

Most of the people who attend the open house are families with children, but Ole Miss student EmilyFaye Cobb was also in attendance on Sunday.

"I try to go to things on campus that I don't think a lot of people will go to," she said. "You can actually learn some cool stuff. Tonight I learned about a kind of crater that has what looks like a meringue tip in the middle. They're called teacup craters, and they happen when something like the moon is struck by a really hot asteroid."

EmilyFaye Cobb looks through the refractor telescope in Kennon Observatory. Photo by Megan Swartzfager

Many students know that the equipment, which was moved to Kennon Observatory in 1939, was once located in Barnard Observatory. Fewer people, however, know that the largest of the telescopes was purchased from an Irish telescope company in 1893.

"There's actually a picture of this telescope in a National Geographic magazine from, I think, 1937," said David Sanders, a research scientist with the University of Mississippi's Department of Physics and Astronomy.

"There's a picture, too, in an 1893 engineering journal. I think it [the journal] is from Dublin," said Tibor Torma, the director of Kennon Observatory.

For those who may not have access to an observatory, there are other ways to observe and learn about the night sky.

For example, star charts like the one below display the configuration of visible stars during a given month.

Photo provided by telescope.com. This is the star chart for April 2017. This image and the star charts for upcoming months can be found at http://www.telescope.com/content.jsp?pageName=Monthly-Star-Chart.

More tech-savvy stargazers can use apps like Star Chart to identify constellations and other astral bodies with GPS technology.

Mentalfloss.com offers tips such as stargazing when the moon is waxing or waning, getting to high ground, using binoculars, and reading up on how to distinguish certain stars and planets.

Many cities also have astronomy clubs, which can be helpful to stargazers of any experience level. They offer valuable tips and tools, and some have access to observatories.

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