Gateway to the Stars
First Friday of the month at 7:00pm
A new series about telescopes and observing...
Ever wondered how to observe deep space objects with a telescope? Or what you can see in binoculars? Join the Delta College Planetarium & Learning Center for a unique tour of the sky through the eyes of a practiced amateur astronomer. “Gateway to the Stars” is a new lecture series hosted by Delta College Planetarium Manager and veteran stargazer, Mike Murray, that will help audiences better understand and enjoy the night sky and discover many of its hidden wonders.
“Gateway to the Stars” highlights some of the most prominent objects in the night sky each month, using them as examples to teach observing techniques that will help maximize the stargazing experience.
Audiences will learn to navigate using basic tips and techniques involved in stargazing. Mike will use the planetarium to demonstrate how to get around the night sky by becoming familiarized with the stars and constellations, planets and other galactic objects visible to the naked eye. Viewers will also learn to explore deep sky wonders like double stars, star clusters, nebulae and galaxies to gain insight and perspective on the different components of our universe.
This innovative and interactive experience combines the most recent technology, space imagery and current night sky information to give viewers a truly inspiring experience. “Gateway to the Stars” shows on the first Friday of each month at 7:00 pm.
After the show (and weather permitting), visitors are invited to join us on the planetarium’s rooftop observation deck for a night sky viewing session with binoculars and telescopes. Guests are welcome to bring their own and receive hands-on guidance from planetarium staff and members of the Sunset Astronomical Society. Tickets for the show are specially priced at only $3.
Transit of Mercury
Monday, May 9 from 10:00am to 2:00pm
Come to this free daytime viewing session to safely watch the planet Mercury move across the face of the Sun! The special event is called a transit and happens only about a dozen times per century. The last Mercury transit occurred in 2006 and the next one won’t come around until 2019.
Since Mercury is so small and orbits close to the sun, it requires a telescope to see the small black dot traveling in front of the Sun. And that requires a certified solar filter for any telescope to view the event safely. Planetarium staff will have telescopes with these special filters available for viewing on its rooftop observation deck starting at 10am.
Beginning at 7:12am EDT, Mercury will make a gradual 7½-hour journey crawling across the Sun’s face, traveling from east to west. At first glance, the planet might look like a small sunspot, but a closer look reveals a perfectly circular black dot compared to the more irregularly-shaped sunspots which also possess faint gray outer edges. And unlike sunspots, Mercury is slowly moving. Sunspots move with the rotation of the Sun and so they can take two weeks to travel across from one side to the other. Mid transit time occurs just before 11:00am, and so if visitors can get away during the lunch hour, the planetarium will be prepared to show the event during this prime time. Mercury will leave the western edge of the Sun at 2:42pm. In case of clouds, the planetarium will stream the event live into its dome theater from other sites on the internet.
November 11, 2019 marks the date of the next transit, which also favors observers in the Americas and Europe. After that, the next one won’t happen till 2032.
Be careful never to look directly at the Sun even for a moment during the transit. Come and see it safely at the planetarium!
International Astronomy Day
Saturday, May 14 from 5:00 - 10:00pm
Astronomy Day is when hundreds of organizations worldwide host special family-oriented events to showcase the wonder and excitement of the night sky. The Planetarium will celebrate with special shows and activities from 5:00 to 10:00pm, all free and open to the public.
The planetarium will feature 360-degree dome presentations about stargazing, deep sky observing techniques and hot topics in astronomy. Included will be hands-on activities for children and a telescope workshop by the Sunset Astronomical Society. Weather permitting, audiences can explore the real sky from the planetarium’s rooftop observation deck beginning at 9:00pm.
Mars Close Approach Observing Night
Saturday, May 28 from 10:00 - 11:30pm
The Red Planet reaches its closest approach to Earth since 2005 and we’ll have planetarium demonstrations and telescope observing (weather permitting). If the skies are clear, viewing on the rooftop observation deck will begin at 10:00pm with help from the Sunset Astronomical Society. Event is free of charge.