Saturday, September 23, 2023

Relaunch of Ukiah’s Historic Latitude Observatory


The following is a press release issued by the City of Ukiah:

Ukiah’s Latitude Observatory, open between 1899-1982 [Picture provided by the City of Ukiah]

Celebrate the Relaunch of Ukiah’s Latitude Observatory Friday, August 12th from 6:30-9pm at Observatory Park. After a ribbon cutting ceremony, visitors can explore new family-friendly exhibits in the historic office and observatory that highlight the history of the site. From 1899-1982, observers around the world, including those stationed at Ukiah, looked through their telescopes and measured the positions of the same sets of stars. This was part of an international scientific effort to better understand the Earth’s wobble. This research has been used in the development of GPS and in deep space exploration. 

Kiddos lined up to visit the portable planetarium [Picture provided by the City of Ukiah]

The interactive exhibits will explain more about the Earth’s wobble- what it is, why it happens, and how 5 latitude observatories, including the one in Ukiah, were built around the world to study it. It will explore the experiences of the different observers who called the station home, watching the stars change as the world changed. Visitors will be able to see some of their historic records along with the original telescope and sidereal clock that the observers used every work night. The exhibition will also discuss the current scientific project that occurs at the site along with the preservation efforts that have been made to protect the observatory. Finally, visitors can imagine they are an observer as they tour the actual historic observatory building with a checklist of the observer’s tasks. Today this site is managed by the City of Ukiah. 

As part of the program, visitors can discover the constellations in a 20-minute program inside a portable planetarium with NASA Ambassador Elizabeth Garcia. They can look through a telescope at celestial objects and meet with Tim Beck, Mendocino College Professor, who works with students to track meteors as part of an international project through the SETI institute. The Historical Society of Mendocino County will have a table with information about local history. Afterwards, visitors will be able to join the City of Ukiah Recreation Department’s Moonlight Movie Madness free movie series showing of Wall-E.

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MendoFever Staff
MendoFever Staff
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