Each month there is something new to see in the night sky. The Gilbert Rotary Observatory Centennial offers a monthly update as to what you might see when you come to the observatory… or maybe in your own back yard with the right set of tools.

In the sky for March:
The Moon & Planets
Mercury is in inferior conjunction with the Sun on the 14th.
Neptune is in conjunction with the Sun on the 14th.

Evening Planets (after sunset)
Mars, SW
Uranus, SW

Morning Planets(before sunrise)
Venus, SE
Jupiter, SE
Saturn, SE

Comets
Comet 46P Wirtanen fades to magnitude 10 this month.

Meteors
There are no significant meteor showers this month.

Public Star Party
Every 2nd Friday: Sunset – 9:30 PM
Additional telescopes supplied by members of the East Valley Astronomy Club are available for free public viewing, plus an astronomy related talk in the adjoining public library at 7:30 PM.

Location
2757 E Guadalupe Road
In the Gilbert Riparian Preserve next to the Gilbert Library at Greenfield and Guadalupe.

Cost: Free
Donations welcome. Suggested donation $5/family or $3/adult.

Public Hours (weather permitting)
Friday Evening: Sunset – 9:30 PM
Saturday Evening: Sunset – 9:30 PM

About the Gilbert Rotary Observatory Centennial
The observatory was officially opened on October 21, 2006. The project was led by Win Pendleton, a retired astronomy educator, and member of both the Gilbert Rotary Club and the East Valley Astronomy Club. The year 2005 marked the one hundredth anniversary of Rotary International, and the local club adopted the idea of creating a public observatory as its centennial project.

The facility was built through private donations and gifted to the Town of Gilbert. You can see the memorial plaques beside the walkway for the names of significant donors that made the project possible. The East Valley Astronomy Club manages the observatory through agreement with the Town of Gilbert Parks and Recreation Department. The staff is all volunteers who embrace sharing their love of astronomy and space science.

The observatory houses a 16” Meade LX200R telescope which is mounted on a Paramount ME German equatorial mount controlled by The Sky Professional computer software for accurate tracking and GOTO operation. Also mounted on the main telescope is a 60mm Lunt solar telescope for viewing the sun in the hydrogen alpha spectrum. The rotating aluminum dome is from Observa-DOME Laboratories and measures 5 meters (16’ 4 1/2 “) in diameter. Something that visitors won’t see is the immense 10 foot steel reinforced concrete cube buried below the observatory floor that provides a firm base for the telescope mounting. You can see pictures of the construction of the observatory.

Learn more about the observatory online.

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