The Ellicottville Memorial Library is offering five astronomy classes this winter and spring. They will be led by long-time amateur astronomer Bert Probst and each is structured for adults over age 16. Call the library to enroll or with any questions. Each class will be held at the Ellicottville Library from 7-8:30 p.m. and each is limited to 15 people. Classes fill up quickly, so if any class strikes your interest, call (716) 699-2842 to register.

THE NIGHT SKY – Feb. 3 & 10. A $15 fee covers the cost of a planisphere.

In this class you will discover what’s up there in the Ellicottville night sky. We’ll cover all sorts of good subjects, some familiar and some not so familiar, including include the moon, planets, constellations, galaxies, star clusters, meteors, the northern lights and the International Space Station. Each participant will receive a planisphere to find our way around the night sky and become familiar with constellations and star patterns for any of the 365 nights of the year. The night sky will no longer be a confusing jumble of stars.  Rather, that jumble will become a fascinating collection of familiar friends.


This class is for you if you’ve ever thought about owning a telescope, if you have a telescope that is gathering dust instead of star light or if you’re just plain curious about these magnificent instruments. The three major types of telescopes and three mounts in use today for amateur telescopes will be reviewed. A brief description of the evolution of the telescope will be presented by considering six historic telescopes, from Galileo’s original (1609) to the Hubble Space Telescope (launched in 1990). Following the presentation, a mini-workshop will be held. All telescope subjects will be open for discussion, including any problems you may be having with yours. You are encouraged to bring your telescope for display and/or to receive assistance in its use.  .


Do rocks really fall from the heavens? We’ll be talking about “shooting stars” and meteorites. Yes, there are many craters on the moon; however, did you know there are more than 170 documented craters right here on earth?  We’ll learn about four of the better known among these, including the famous Meteor Crater in Arizona and the most recent in Tunguska, Siberia. You’ll also learn about comets, those beautiful, however infrequent, visitors to our part of the solar system. Where do they come from and how are they related to shooting stars, meteorites and craters? We’ll tie all of these together.

CHASING A COMET – Mar. 24. Free.

In November 2014, after a 10-year journey, the Rosetta mission was the first ever to make a successful soft landing on the comet Churyumov – Gerasimemko, though the landing was a harrowing, nearly two-hour bounce after first contact. We will discuss this dramatic journey and the many maneuvers required.

TIDES – Apr. 7. Free.

If you have ever spent time at the seashore, you have possibly marveled at the obvious difference in heights and regularity of high and low tides. And you are, no doubt, aware that the principal cause of tides is the gravitational forces between earth and the moon.  However, there are other factors that contribute to ocean tides. We will review these and will address the question of whether the energy of tides can be captured and converted to useable commercial energy.