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									ESS141 Introduction to Astronomy
YCP Spring 1999

Laboratory Activity No. 10 and 11: Night Sky Observing

Introduction and Objectives:

Each person is required TWO NIGHT TIME visits to an astronomical observatory.
Astronomical Observatory at John Rudy County Park provides an opportunity to view objects
through a telescope and is located near-by in East York. Radio Astronomy is also conducted at
the John Rudy County Park Astronomical Observatory.

The visits will be for observing and taking notes. Types of objects that can be observed in a
dark sky include: the moon, planets, star clusters, multiple star systems, nebulae, galaxies,
and whatever else York County Astronomical Society members operating the reflective
telescopes select. The York County Astronomical Society cooperatively operate the
observatory with the York County Park System. Dates and times are posted on the schedule
attached and in our laboratory room. Again, you are free to do your two observing labs when
you wish based on the operating schedule, and there is a clear sky. The basic rule of thumb is
if 50% or more of the sky is cloudy; no observing. TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THOSE NIGHTS
WITH CLEAR SKIES EARLY IN THE SEMESTER. Observing clouds is not a very interesting
way to spend an evening, except if you are a meteorologist.

Attached is an observing checklist for your reference. Sketches of nighttime observations are
encouraged but not required. Each student must keep a log: (1) listing the dates of the
observations; (2) astronomical objects observed (check list for reference); (3) the quality of
the sky (haze, partial clouds, wind, temperature, light pollution, etc.); (4) what you saw at the
observatory; (5) you need to sign the guest book when you visit, behind your name put YCP
(York College of Pennsylvania); (6) also, an astronomical observation form must be
completed and signed by one of the “astronomers” on duty that evening, (forms attached).
There is no way to observe all the objects listed on the observatory forms in a few visits to an
observatory. These are general lists used by many astronomers and provide guidelines for
searching the nighttime sky.

In addition to the John Rudy Park Observatory, other observatories can be visited to fulfill this
laboratory requirement. The Harrisburg Area Astronomical Observatory in Lewisberry, northern
York County, Gettysburg College’s Astronomical Observatory, and Franklin and Marshall
College’s Astronomical Observatory are in this regional area and welcome the public to viewing
sessions. There is no admission charge to any of these observatories. If in your home area
an astronomical observatory exists, it may be possible to observe the night sky there. Check
with your instructor to be sure. Also periodically a branch of the American Astronomical
Foundation sets a viewing night and temporary observatory at Sam Lewis State Park near
Wrightsville in Eastern York County. As information becomes available you will be notified.
Paragraph three requirements must be met for all observation sessions.

Good luck and have fun! Remember astronomy is a science over your head! If you want to
learn about any constellations, just ask about them on your observing visits. Constellations will
be discussed in class, but you may enjoy identifying a few in the night sky. You must complete
two visits before May 1st 1999.

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