The NASA Wallops Flight Facility Visitor Center lights up the night sky.

The NASA Wallops Flight Facility Visitor Center lights up the night sky.

The NASA Wallops Flight Facility Visitor Center will be hosting the last night of the Winter Astronomy Series this Friday, March 18 from 7 to 10 p.m. The Delmarva Space Sciences Foundation will be on-site to provide expertise and high power telescopes to all viewers.

This particular night is special because there will be stunning night sky features that are only visible this time of year including the Orion Nebula, Andromeda Galaxy, and Jupiter.

According to astronomysource.com: “The Orion Nebula is part of the constellation Orion. This truly beautiful nebula can be found just below Orion’s belt as a part of Orion’s sword. It is one of the brightest nebulae and is visible to the naked eye.”

Wallops
Photo by Krystina Carpenter

Jupiter may be visible as well. It is the largest planet in our solar system. It is a very bright and exciting object to observe. Four moons can be seen even with small telescopes or binoculars. If the conditions are good some cloud bands are visible, and with larger telescopes it might be possible to see some cloud details and the great red spot according to astronomysource.com.

Great views from NASA Wallops

Kim Check, Manager of NASA Wallops Flight Facility said she is hoping for clear skies on the night of March 18th so that viewers can witness the beauty of our night sky.

“I am hoping for clear skies and a big turnout for the last night of the series,” Check said.

The rainy weather on previous dates did not stop enthusiastic viewers from visiting The NASA Wallops Flight Facility Visitor Center. As one of the main sites for rocket launch viewing, the visitor center can accommodate over 1000 people. The previous events of the series have gone well. On January 15 over 200 people attended and on February 19th over 130 people showed up.

“Many people are curious about the night sky and have a chance to observe it for the first time through high-powered telescopes during this event,” Check said.

This family friendly event includes a variety of activities throughout the evening, including an astronomy 101 presentation in the Auditorium and a telescope viewing of the night sky. Participants also will have opportunities to participate in building planispheres, creating galactic mobiles, universe discovery guides and other astronomy-themed movies, activities and crafts.

“We are currently setting the dates for the Summer Astronomy Series that will occur in July and August at the beach on the Virginia end of Assateague Island National Seashore. We may also plan another Winter Series in 2017,” Check said. “The NASA Wallops Flight Facility Visitor Center offers great opportunities to learn about astronomy. The event is free and families are encouraged to enjoy this experience together.”

The event will occur regardless of the weather however the telescope viewing is subject to cancellation due to inclement weather. Interested people are encouraged to check for updates on the NASA Wallops Flight Facility Visitor Center’s face book page by 3pm the day of the event for any changes.

The NASA Visitor Center, located on Va. Rt. 175 about six miles from U. S. Route 13 and five miles from Chincoteague.

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