Partial Solar Eclipse Oct. 23

Lunar eclipses and Solar eclipses usually occur about two weeks apart:  a lunar eclipse will occur when the Moon is on the opposite side of Earth from the Sun and thus is full, and then a solar eclipse will occur two weeks later when the Moon is on the same side of the Earth as the Sun and thus is new.  (Of course, it can happen in the opposite order just as easily.)

That is the case right now.  We had a total lunar eclipse on Wednesday morning during Full Moon, and there will be a partial solar eclipse at the next New Moon, on Oct. 23.  Again, this is a partial solar eclipse: the Moon’s umbra will miss the Earth, and so we will only see part of the Sun’s disk blocked by the Moon – at greatest eclipse, about 52% of the Sun’s diameter will be covered, or about 41% of it’s area  (here in southern Colorado).

For those of us in Alamosa (and other towns in the San Luis Valley), the eclipse will begin at about 3:22 p.m. and end at about 5:45 p.m.  Greatest eclipse will occur at 4:38.  All times local (MDT).

Standard Warning:  NEVER look directly at the Sun, even during an eclipse.  It is bright enough to do severe and permanent damage to your eyes.  You can look directly at the Sun if you have appropriate “safe solar eclipse viewing glasses”, which you can find on the web.

Or you can come by the planetarium (NOT the observatory!) between 3:30 and 5:30 on Oct. 23.  We’ll have safe eclipse viewing glasses you can use, telescopes you can look through, and a projection of the Sun’s image so lots of people can look at once.

Fall semester planetarium programs

Ok, I’m running pretty late here, I’ll admit that.  But to be complete, we’re showing movies on Thursday evenings at 7:00 and 7:45 and Friday afternoons at 4:30 and 5:15.  As of this writing, the schedule of programs, available on our Scheduled Public Shows page, includes a live presentation one Thursday night in September and one Thursday night in October.  You can expect another in November.

Programs will be held every Thursday and Friday that classes are in session (i.e., all of them through Dec. 12, except Oct. 16-17 and Nov. 27-28).  All programs are free and open to the public.  Seating is first-come, first-served.

Summer Movie Schedule announced

The schedule of movies for the summer of 2014 has been released.  Zacheis planetarium will be showing movies every Thursday evening at 7:00 and 7:45.  To see the schedule, check out our “Scheduled Public Shows” page.

Public Telescope viewing this weekend

On Saturday evening, Feb. 8, Zacheis Planetarium will host a free, public telescope viewing session. Weather permitting, we will have telescopes outside for visitors to view Jupiter and its four largest moons, the Moon, and a selection of double stars and star clusters. Inside the theater at 6:15 and 7:15, we will present a short overview of the evening and morning skies, including bright stars, constellations, planets, and the Moon.

All programs at Zacheis are free and open to the public. Tickets are required for the indoor program due to limited seating, and will be available at the planetarium when doors open at 6:00 p.m.

Please dress VERY warmly. Cold toes take away some of the fun of seeing the cloud bands on Jupiter and craters on the Moon!

Zacheis Planetarium Resumes Public Shows

After being closed for almost two months, ASU’s planetarium is ready to resume public shows. The complete schedule for the fall semester will be released in the next week, but here’s the general plan…

– Thursday evenings, 7:00 and 7:45. We will alternate between movies and live presentations each week. Live presentations will sometimes cover astronomy and sometimes earth science, using the new software installed this summer. Doors will open at 6:45.

– Friday afternoons, 4:30 and 5:15.  Two showings of a movie each week. We are holding these shows later this semester in the hope that more people will be able to attend. Doors will open at 4:15.

– One Saturday night each month, starting in September.  We will do a live presentation on the evening sky, and have telescopes out for public viewing, weather permitting.  Times will be arranged to coincide with dark skies (so we can use the telescopes!)  One night I can tell you now: October 12 is International Observe the Moon Night. We will have a Moon program, as well as telescopes and cameras for public use. Bring a USB flash drive and take your photos home with you!

We will start this Thursday with a live presentation highlighting a few of the evening constellations, and a sneak peek at the new earth science software, The Layered Earth. Friday’s movie will be “Robot Explorers”.

Zacheis planetarium is now closed for the remainder of the summer

Zacheis planetarium is now closed until classes start again in mid-August. The planetarium is getting an upgrade to a system called “The Layered Earth”, which will greatly increase our outreach capabilities in Earth Science. Look for a reopening announcement roughly the second week of August.

Meanwhile, if you’re not already on the planetarium email list, drop me a note ( and I’ll add you. You’ll be notified of planetarium programs when we start back up in August.