Welcome to the CMS Observatory!
The CMS Observatory sits on the campus of Cody Middle School in Cody, Wyoming. The observatory contains a 14" Celestron telescope on a Paramount computerized base and several smaller telescopes, including solar telescopes, which are used to help expand student knowledge and fascination of the universe.
The facility is primarily available for use within the school district but is also available for use by other groups and organizations. The CMS Astronomy Club meets once a month and hosts open houses for friends and family.
Other useful websites:
Constellation List (all 88 constellations with information on each)
Constellation List (brief overview of each constellation)
This video was produced by Cactus Pro Studios for the Park County Travel Council. The series, "Outside Yellowstone", features outdoor activities available in Park County. Episode 4 (shown here) features caving in Cedar Mountain and Stargazing up the North Fork of the Shoshone and from the CMS Observatory! The stargazing portion of the video begins at the 4 minute mark.
The "Green Comet"
This series of images of comet c2022E3 highlights how quickly it is racing away from Earth and into deep space. The sequence only spans about 15 minutes. Each two-minute exposure was taken through our C-14 SCT using a Canon EOS Rebel T7 camera. The images were taken Feb. 9, 2023 when the comet was only magnitude 6.22.
- 1/31/23 - Perhaps you've heard of the "Green Comet" that is making an appearance right now. Tomorrow night, Feb 1st, that comet, named c2022 e3, makes its closest approach to Earth and it MIGHT be visible to the naked eye. Right now it is visible with binoculars but is pretty faint.
You can use THIS star chart to locate it. The map is for 8pm on Feb. 1st. The observatory will be open for our students and families from 7-8 pm NEXT Thursday, Feb. 9th. Weather permitting, we will try to locate the comet with a telescope or two!
- 1/10/23 - This Thursday, Jan 12th, Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) reaches its closest point to the sun and photographers are getting beautiful shots of it. A pair of binoculars might reveal its greenish glow and tail as it passes through the constellation Corona Borealis. Click here for a map of how to find it.
- 12/6/22 - Tomorrow night (Wed, Dec 7/8) a beautiful occultation will occur as the moon passes in front of Mars. Click HERE to see a great animation of the event which should be visible for much of North America & Europe. For Cody, WY, Mars will disappear around 7:45pm and reappear around 8:50pm (Mountain Standard Time).
- 12/5/22 - This month is a GREAT time to view Mars. It is high in the sky during opposition (Dec. 8) and shines at mag. -1.9! Also this month, the thin crescent moon passes a few degrees from Venus and Mercury in the southwestern sky after sunset.
- 10/17/22 - Early in the morning of Nov. 8th is a total lunar eclipse. The full eclipse will occur between 03:16 - 04:41 MSD with the maximum eclipse happening 03:59. Click HERE for a website with lots of details about the eclipse and HERE for information on photographing eclipses. Also... the Taurid Meteor Shower/Swarm should be near its peak on that morning, so be sure to watch for fireballs & meteors during the eclipse. Better yet - get a photograph of a Taurid fireball photobombing your Lunar Eclipse picture!!
- 10/17/22 - Just an FYI - Daylight Savings Time ends on Nov. 6th so don't forget to bump your clocks back an hour the evening before.
- 9/26/22 - In case you haven't noticed, there is a bright "star" in the east in the evening. That bright star is actually Jupiter and it is currently the brightest object in the night sky apart from the moon. The reason it is so bright is that it is sort of a "super Jupiter" (kind of like a "super moon") where the planet makes its closest approach to the sun at the time Earth is between the two. The last time this happened was 59 years ago.
So... the next couple of weeks would be a great time to look at the giant planet through a telescope, spotting scope, or even binoculars.
- 7/12/22 - August 11-13th is the peak of the Perseid meteor shower. This is often one of the best meteor showers of the year. This year, the peak is during the full moon so the dim flashes of light will be harder to spot.
- 7/12/22 - Tonight the observatory is hosting a program for the Park County Library Summer Reading Program. Our focus will be the moon and summer constellations. HERE is a link to the short video we will watch before searching for constellations and looking at features on the moon. If we capture any images this evening, they will be posted on this website either in the photo gallery or on this homepage. This program is open to all who sighed up for it at the library.
- 5/27/22 - A possible meteor STORM is expected the night of Monday May 30, 2022. The peak, if it happens, will be around 11pm MST. There is no way of knowing how big the show will be. It could be anywhere from 0 to 1000+ meteors/hour! If your skies are clear be sure to look up Monday night.
- 5/11/22 - Where will you be this Sunday night (May 15th)? Watching the TOTAL LUNAR ECLIPSE, I hope! The eclipse will already be underway when the moon rises at 7:09pm. The moon will enter Earth's umbra at 8:28 pm and will take about 3.5 hours to completely pass through the darkest part of Earth's shadow. The moon will be totally eclipsed between 9:28 - 11:55 pm mountain time (almost an hour and half!). Click HERE to go to a site with more detailed information and click HERE for tips on photographing the eclipse.
- 4/20/22 - The sun is literally exploding with energy - many flares have erupted over the last couple of weeks. Keep an eye to the north for aurora!
- 3/31/22 - The aurora were visible from Cody last night. Check out the pictures in the photo gallery. Tonight may produce auroras once again.
- 3/30/22 - The next two nights there is high potential for observing the northern lights at mid to high latitudes in the US.
- 12/6/21 - Have you noticed the three bright "stars" lined up in the Western sky at dark this week? Venus is the brightest and closest to the horizon (you can't miss it!). Then Saturn above that with bright Jupiter above that. This week the moon is also passing through them. Another great thing to look for with a pair of binoculars is Comet Leonard. December and early January should be great times to try to spot this gem.
- 11/17/21 - Thursday night, Nov. 18, 2021, there will be a nearly total lunar eclipse (97%). The moon will enter Earth's penumbra Thursday night at 11:02pm (MST) and will first enter the umbra (start of the partial eclipse) at 12:18am Friday morning. Greatest eclipse occurs at 2:02 am and the partial eclipse ends at 3:47 am. The moon should be back to full brightness by 5:03 am on Friday. This makes it the longest eclipse in nearly 600 years! Most of North America should get to enjoy it.
- 10/1/21 - It's Fall and time to start our CMS Astronomy Club meetings again. Next week Thursday right after Parent-Teacher Conferences we will meet in the observatory. Also, keep your eyes peeled for Orionid meteors this month, especially near the peak on Oct. 21st!
- 9/7/21 - For those with solar filters, the sun is boasting a couple HUGE sunspots right now. In addition to being a target for solar astrophotographers, it is possible that these giants could unleash flares that could trigger aurora. Stay tuned to Spaceweather.com for updates (see Sept. 7 and following)
- 8/15/21 - have you seen any Perseid meteors this past week? It’s not too late. These beautiful, often greenish fireballs are worth the effort!
- 6/22/21 - On Tuesday night the observatory hosted a Park County Summer Reading Program event. Fifteen children and parents joined observatory and library staff for an evening of stargazing using some of the telescopes as well as getting an orientation to the summer constellations using the planetarium projector.
- 5/25/21 - Early risers will get a treat tomorrow morning as the May full moon happens at perigee and will pass into Earth's umbral shadow. That makes it a "Super Flower Blood Moon"! In other words, May's full moon, called the flower moon, happens when the moon is at its closest point to Earth in its monthly orbit - making it a "super moon". It will also pass into Earth's shadow giving us a total lunar eclipse. Click HERE for a website that has links to live feeds of the eclipse from different observatories around the world. According to that website, we can expect to see a partial eclipse beginning at 3:44 AM, the total eclipse starts at 5:11 AM and ends at 5:25 AM.
- 3/4/21 - Tonight at Astronomy Club we plan to look at the close pairing of Mars and the Pleiades and we will try to find Vesta in the constellation Leo, the Lion. We will meet at 8pm rather than 7pm.
- 12/22/20 - Last night Jupiter & Saturn put on quite a show! We had 50-60 visitors to the observatory and got to see wonderful views of the conjunction through binoculars as well as through 5", 12" and the big 14" telescopes. A few visitors snapped photos with their phones and cameras. See the photo gallery to see a few of them.
- 12/21/20 - Jupiter & Saturn special viewing: On Monday evening, December 21st, from 5-6pm the CMS Observatory will be open for the community to view (weather permitting) the conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn. Visitors must wear face masks while at the observatory for this special viewing. For a sneak peak, check out photos gallery for a shot taken 12-18-20.
- 11-19-20 - Next month (December) there are two must-see events. First, the Geminid meteor shower peaks on Dec. 12-13. Then, on the Winter Solstice (Dec. 21) there is a rare meeting of Jupiter and Saturn - they could be in the same field of view in smaller telescopes! Saturn will appear as close as a Jovian moon!
- 11-12-20 - This month we can look forward to the Leonid Meteor Shower which peaks on the 17th/18th. Comet ATLAS is also visible in back-yard telescopes if you know where to look. Mars is still a brilliant orange glowing orb in the night sky
- 8-21-20 - If you haven't yet looked at brilliant red-orange Mars in the late night or early morning sky, you ought to! It now outshines Sirius, the brightest star in the night sky. The cool thing is that it will continue to brighten for the next month and half. It reaches it closest approach on October 8th when it should shine at -2.6 magnitude and will rise in the night sky just after 7pm.
- 8-11-20 - Tomorrow morning (Aug. 12) is the peak of the Perseid Meteor Shower so if you have the opportunity, be sure to take a look in the early morning hours before sunrise. The best time would probably be before the waning crescent moon rises at 12:21 AM at which time the sunlight reflecting off the moon will wash out our views of the dimmer meteors.
7-29-20 - Here is a link to where NEOWISE can be found for the next few days. Is should still be visible in binoculars. Click HERE
- 7-27-20 - Have you stepped out to see comet NEOWISE? This comet has a nucleus that is estimated to be 5 KM wide and has put on quite a show over the last few weeks! See our photo gallery for a couple of shots taken just south of Yellowstone N.P. It was bright enough to be visible from in town, though it is now dimming significantly. To try to catch a glimpse of it grab your binoculars and look for it ahead of the Big Dipper (see an online star chart for it's current location).
- 5-20-20 - If you happen to see this post today or tomorrow, head outside after sunset these evenings and look west. Weather permitting, you could see bright Venus joined by speedy little Mercury. The two should be so close, you could cover them with your fingertip held at arm's length. UPDATE - see the photo gallery for an image from the evening of 5-20-20.
- 4-7-20 - Good news and bad news. Unfortunately, for the foreseeable future, the CMS Observatory will be closed due to the pandemic. We will post when the facility is operating again. The good news is that we have just purchased a new camera (ZWO ASI071 PRO) for the big scope! We can't wait to get it up and running.
- 3/24/20 - Comet ATLAS (C/2019 Y4), is in Ursus Major right now is starting to put on quite a show. While not yet visible to the naked eye, through a telescope it's visible and is a gorgeous emerald green cloud half the diameter of the sun! The best time to view this comet will probably be the last half of May when it will be its brightest. No need to wait until then to try to locate it, though!
- 3/23/20 - It's Messier Marathon season. If you're looking for a great challenge, try chasing after all 110 of the Messier objects in one night. HERE is a list of them in a viewing order that may allow all objects in one night. You can use the the Stellarium online website to know where to look in the sky to find them. HERE is a site with some helpful tips.
- 2/8/20 - The students at CMS have just produced a winter constellation podcast. It features 12 constellations to look for during the winter months. The scripts were all written by the students and most were read by the students themselves. You can find it on our Astronomy Club tab in the navigation bar.
- 12/14/19 - The annual Geminid Meteor Shower peaks today. While this is usually the finest annual meteor shower, this year the Waning Gibbous moon (96% full) will interfere with the faint meteors in the morning (best time to view meteors). Still be sure to check it out!
- 11/21/19 - Thursday night might bring a celestial treat - a short meteor outburst radiating from the constellation Monoceros. The outburst of meteors, if it happens, is expected to be around 9:50pm and last only 15-40 minutes. Past outbursts happened in 1925, 1935, 1985, and 1995 according to Spaceweather.com.
- 11/19/19 - It's time to gear up for this years Leonid Meteor Shower. The peak is predicted to be between midnight and dawn on Monday, Nov. 18th. Typically, up to 10-15 fireballs per hour can be expected. This year with a waning gibbous moon it may be tough to see the more faint ones.
- 11/11/19 - Mercury will transit the sun between 5:30-11:30 AM (MST). We hope to have some viewing opportunities that day at the observatory and will certainly share some images if any are captured. Proper solar viewing equipment is required to see this event (do NOT look at the sun without properly filtered equipment). You can also view the transit live from this website: click HERE or HERE (Griffith Observatory, Las Angeles). The next Mercury transit is in 2032.
- 10/21/19 - The Orionid Meteor Shower peaks on Oct. 21st & 22nd. Forecasters predict up to 20 meteors/hour if conditions are good.
- 9/25/19 - A moderate geomagnetic storm is forecasted over the next few days so be on the lookout for northern lights!
- 9/4/19 - School has started up and so will our CMS Astronomy Club. Our first meeting will be in October (see the Astronomy Club link)
- 8/8/19 - The 2019 Perseid Meteor Shower will light up the skies this month. The peak mornings will be Aug. 11, 12, and 13. Moonlight may interfere a bit during this time so astronomers are suggesting viewing during the early mornings of the 9th and 10th.
- 7/3/19 - The Park County Library Summer Reading Program is offering an opportunity for children and their families to enjoy an evening program at the CMS Observatory on Tuesday, July 9th from 9:30-10:30 pm. Call or visit the library for more details.
- 5/31/19 - The big telescope has been repaired and is once again mounted on the Paramount computerized base. It awaits some clear nights for us to get it balanced & pointing accurately again.
- 4/1/19 - Our big telescope is being repaired/tuned up. It should be back in action later this month (and before our next Astronomy Club / Open House).
- 1/15/19 - This weekend the observatory will have an open house on Sunday, January 20th, between 8:30 - 10:00 pm to view the total lunar eclipse (weather permitting) . This eclipse happens at perigee so it is also a "super moon". Check out our Astronomy Club page for more details.
- 12/17/18 - Looking ahead to January 2018, there is a total lunar eclipse that will be visible across all of the US on Jan. 20. Click HERE for detailed information. The partial eclipse begins in our area around 8:30pm and ends around midnight. The total eclipse begins at 9:40pm and lasts for an hour.
- 12/13/18 - This evening is our December observatory open house and CMS Astronomy Club meeting. Our focus will be comets -specifically Comet 46P/Wirtanen. Click on the CMS Astronomy Club tab for this months meeting time as well as those for the rest of the year. HERE is a good video clip on the comet.
- 11/26/18 - The names of several CMS students went up on the Mars InSight lander as part of a NASA program and are due to land on the red planet this afternoon. Our names were etched on a microchip (along with a couple million other names) which was attached to the InSight lander. So in a small way, Cody Middle School is part of this historic mission!
- 10/24/18 - This fall holds some pretty cool observing opportunities. The annual Orionid (mid-October) and the Leonid (mid-November) meteor showers are always fun to observe. Also, this year comet 46P/Wirtanen should make quite a showing. This 1 km-wide chunk of ice and dirt reaches it's closest pass to Earth on Dec. 16th - only just over 11 million km away! It should become visible to the naked eye.
- 10/18/18 - Thurs. evening at 7:30 pm will be our first CMS Astronomy Club of the year and will serve as the "grand reopening" of the observatory after the complete remodel of the facility over the summer.
- 8/12/18 - Sun. night and Mon. AM is the great Perseid Meteor Shower. If clouds and wildfire smoke don't impede visibility, it should be quite a show! Sun. after dark look to the NE and by the early Mon. morning hours you should face NW to have the greatest meteor watching experience. Head out of town to a dark site increase the number of visible meteors.
- Summer 2018 - This was a big summer for the observatory as it received a complete overhaul (new siding, carpet, drywall, roof, and an addition for a planetarium!