This month’s installment of “Gateway to the Stars” in the Hansen Dome Theatre will feature our home galaxy, the Milky Way. Under clear dark skies, August is one of the best times of year to see it. It appears as a fuzzy band of light arching high over the sky, stretching from north to south, especially after 10:00 p.m. The summer Milky Way is also brighter and wider in appearance than the winter Milky Way, since we’re looking more toward the center of our galaxy at this time. Even a pair of binoculars will start to resolve the band of the Milky Way into individual stars, a signal that our galaxy is truly expansive in depth. With the 3-dimensional travel capabilities of the planetarium’s “Digistar” projection system, we’ll also get to travel hundreds of thousands of light years outside of the galaxy to see what the Milky Way truly looks like from the “outside.”
The summer Milky Way also holds many of the year’s best deep sky treasures. We’ll get to see open star clusters (like the Wild Duck Cluster), globular star clusters (such as the Hercules Cluster), emission nebulae (the Lagoon Nebula, a stellar nursery) and planetary nebulae (the Ring Nebula, where a star is dying). These and many other objects await even the casual observer. A large telescope isn’t necessary to see many of these galactic riches.
Come and join us Saturday, August 6 at 6:45 p.m. for a show of truly galactic proportions! Tickets are $1. Members are free.