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Insight offered on upcoming celestial event

Faculty member Mike Dunham leads public star viewing nights at the campus observatory.

State University of New York at Fredonia Assistant Professor Michael Dunham of the Department of Physics noted that a significant celestial event is occurring in December: a great conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn.

Each night during the month, Jupiter and Saturn are moving closer and closer together in the sky. On their closest approach in the evening of Monday, they will appear so close together they will appear in the same telescope field-of-view, and will look like a binary planet system.

Normally, Dr. Dunham would open up the telescope in the Science Center throughout the month of December to advertise the event, explain what exactly a “great conjunction” is, and provide viewing opportunities. Since he is unable to host telescope viewings due to the ongoing pandemic, he is instead conducting a virtual, Zoom-based planetarium show to discuss this event and explain how to view it.

The show, which will last approximately an hour in duration, will use screen sharing of digital planetarium software to explain what planetary conjunctions are, what is so special about this one, and how to best view this particular conjunction.

The event will be held on Saturday at 5 p.m. It is free and open to the general public. He is also advertising it on the Fredonia Observatory Facebook page.

Those interested in the session can email him at Michael.Dunham@fredonia.edufor the Zoom join information. Also, Dr. Dunham suggests following “Fredonia Observatory” to stay informed on all public events.

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