Drake Municipal Observatory

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Public Nights

Drake University hosts public educational lectures at the Municipal Observatory each Fall, Spring, and Summer term.

Read on for details on upcoming lectures.

Visitors can expect a brief Astronomy lesson followed by stargazing with expert guidance. Lectures begins at 8 PM, regardless of weather. Sky Viewing begins at dark if clear conditions. Children 15 and younger must be accompanied by an adult. Please contact Drake Physics & Astronomy to request accomidations. Admission is free and open to all! 

A group of community members sits inside the observatory facing forward. There are pictures of stars, planets, and outer space on the walls of the room. One man stands at the front of the room facing the group. There is a projector and screen behind him, an a small modern telescope next to him. He appears to be speaking to the group.

Previous recorded lectures are available on youtube.

If you have questions or comments regarding public nights please contact:  Herbert.schwartz@drake.edu

Or call Drake Physics & Astronomy department at 515-271-3141

Join us on August 13th 8pm for Perseids Meteor Shower Event

Summer showers are unpredictable.  Hot humid days will end with a brief but heavy shower that lasts no longer than several minutes with the sun emerging over a now rain soaked countryside.  However there is a predictable shower happening right now. It originally started almost 2000 years ago and like clockwork reappears every summer. It starts in mid-July and it is not expected to let up until late in August..  It is visible every clear night usually after midnight and you may be able to collect pieces of that shower.  This is the Perseids Meteor shower.   The first recorded appearance of this astronomical event was in 36 AD, and it has returned every year since then with the meteor storm peaking on August 11/12.

Drake Municipal Observatory will kickoff its 100th Anniversary season with a live, in classroom program about meteors and meteorites just after the storm peak on Friday, August 13, at 8 PM at the Drake Observatory in Waveland golf course.. Actual meteorites will be available to touch and a demonstration as to how to catch one will be shown. The talk and demonstration will be given by Herb Schwartz, Observatory Lecturer.

As always, the Observatory will be open for all and admission is always free.  With a clear sky, telescopes will be set up to view the sky at dusk.

2021 Lecture Series

Celebrating the Drake Municipal Observatory's 100th Anniversary

November 5, 1921 saw the formal dedication of the Drake University Municipal Observatory.  Besides being a research grade laboratory for the advancement of Astronomy, its function was, and still is, a place where the public is invited, (actually encouraged) to observe through this  window to deep space.  At the time of its construction it was the only Observatory that had regular public observing.

Dr. Daniel W. Morehouse,  Astronomer, Physicist, and President of Drake University was the driving force behind the Observatory.  His enthusiasm is still evident within the walls of this edifice in that research and public viewing continues into its second century.

The Fall Program Series: 
Unanswered Questions
(How Do You Find Answers)

All programs begin at 8pm.

September 17:  The First Answers

September 24: Why is The Universe Expanding Faster Now?

October 1:     What is out there that bends space That We Cannot See?

October 8:     Was There Time Before the Big Bang?

October 15:    Will There Be An End of Time?

October 22:    What Are Fast Radio Bursts  (FRB) How are they connected to Des Moines?

October 29:    Are Earthlings Alone?

November 5:   How Do You Celebrate A Century Old Des Moines Icon?

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