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Link to the IAU's International Year of Astronomy at www.astronomy2009.org

Florida Atlantic University
Astronomical Observatory

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Image of the current Sun, provided by ESA's & NASA's SDO space telescope and link to sohowww.nascom.nasa.gov
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Image of the current Sun in H-alpha light is provided by the National Solar Observatory/AURA/NSF and link to www.nso.edu
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Geomag. Field:
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The National Academies Press: Severe Space Weather Events--Understanding Societal and Economic Impacts: A Workshop Report (2008)

The National
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Severe Space
Weather Events--
Societal and
Economic Impacts:
A Workshop
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FAU Astronomical Observatory -- Front Page

Welcome to the Observatory's Front Page. Included here are some of the latest news and articles that may be of interest to our visitors. General observatory information, such as location and maps, viewing schedules, Events Calendar, contact information, student class credits, directions, parking and other general information, can be found on the "About the Observatory" page.

We also have a growing coverage about the issue of light pollution, what it is, what it does to the environment, to ourselves, to our wallets and resources, to our security and safety, to the majestic wonders of the night sky and what YOU can do about it. This is a man made problem that is prepetuated by a lack of awareness and is something that we all can correct.

The Front Page

The Front Page currently covers:

M42 - The Great Orion Nebula, taken at FAU's Astronomical Observatory on Dec. 16th, 2015 at 0126 EST.

M42 - The Great Orion Nebula. Our public viewing session on Dec. the 15th had amazingly clear skies for our visitors to enjoy. After they left, I tried a few pictures of some favorite objects in the sky and am quite pleased with how some turned out. While vibrations are still a problem that plagues us, sometimes we get steady views. This shot here, taken with our Canon 60Da, was a mere 9 second exposure in our main telescope.

News of the Observatory

August 2016 -- I plan to change the normal public viewing schedule this month to help the Introductory to Astronomy students another chance to get credit before their summer semester ends on the 8th. So the regular first Friday session will be held on the second Friday on the 12th this month.

Jupiter-Venus Conjunction -- Then later on this month we'll offer a special session that unfortunately will last only one hour for us. On the 27th of August, Jupiter and Venus will appear to converge in the sky. In their conjuction, they will be only 1/12th of a degree apart from each other! Thus they should easily appear together in a telescope's eyepiece at the same time. They will be visible for only hour after sunset, from 7:30 to 8:30 pm, and then they too will set. As they will be in the western sky, I plan to bring telescopes out on the roof of the building and hold the session there. As we'll be out in the open, this event is going to be weather dependent. So check the weather, and if its good and you still want to phone here, and I don't answer, then its good bet I can't come to the phone as I'll be out setting things up for visitors.

Graphic of what the Jupiter Venus conjunction may show.

This graphic tries to show a bit about what the conjunction between Jupiter and Venus will be like. In the days leading up to the conjunction on Aug. 27th, you may notice the two planets converge in the western skies after sunset. The paths shown are relative to the ground, are "ticked off" every five days leading up to the conjunction and only at the conjunction will they appear close to Virgo's star Javijava, her outstretched left hand.

General Sky Conditions

Solar conditions, atmospheric phenomena and news are reported by www.SpaceWeather.com.

The current sky conditions of Boca Raton are found via the Clear Sky Clock: Shortened
timeblock gif of sky conditions.
And some details as to what this means is mentioned in the Visiting Tips section of the About the Observatory page.

Basic weather conditions for our area are at www.wunderground.com forecast for Boca Raton, while our astronomically important current cloud cover conditions can be found at www.wunderground.com for Boca Raton.

To the Space Telescope Science Inst's Sky Tonight movie. Check out:
the Space Telescope Science Institute's Sky Tonight movie at Amazing Space
or to
Sky & Telescope's This Week's Sky at a Glance page.
To the Sky & Telescope's <q>This Week's Sky at a Glance</q> article by Alan M. MacRobert.

APOD's Banner image that links to Astronomy Pictures of the Day site.

What's Up in the Sky!


Section updated: July 1st, 2016.

The Sun crosses into Gemini on June 21st. It has reached its summer solistice, officially starting the summer season in the northern hemisphere, and hence it will appear to begin its southward direction, meaing that the nights are getting longer! The Sun will stay with the twins until July the 20th when it'll cross into Cancer the crab's realm.

Lunar Phases:

NEW MoonJuly 4th
FIRST QuarterJuly 11th
FULL MoonJuly 19th
LAST QuarterJuly 26th
NEW MoonAug. 2nd
FIRST QuarterAug. 10th
FULL MoonAug. 17th
LAST QuarterAug. 25th
NEW MoonSep. 1st

For those in North America, the total Solar Eclipse that we have been waiting for is the one that will occur on August 21st, 2017, across the U.S.A.. This will be the first solar eclipse that we will see in America since 1979 and the last one that we'll see here until Apr. 2024! Plan your trips now to see it! Hotels are already being sold out!

Meteor Showers:
Note: compare shower dates with Moon for favorable viewing conditions; the fuller the Moon, the harder it will be to see the meteors!

Peak NightName Radiant's
Source Zero
Description Conditions
~July 28th Piscis
? 5 35 km/s seen best in the south Doable, past
3rd Qtr. Moon
July 27-28thAlpha
north of α
5 23 km/s slow,
bright meteors
Doable, past
3rd Qtr. Moon
July 28-29thDelta
δ Aquarius comet 96P
16 41 km/s faint
Doable, past
3rd Qtr. Moon
Aug. 12-13Perseids Perseus comet 109P
100 59 km/s fast, bright
colorful meteors,
may be double
Can do, but
waxing gibbous
Moon won't help.

Viewing Tips: Find a decent location away from obstructive lights in night, especially avoid bluish-white lights that so impact your nightvision capabilities which you'll need to see the fainter meteors! The meteors are generally heaviest in the wee hours of the morning as then we'll be in front of the Earth as it plows it way through the debris trail. You'll want a clear and unobstructed view of the sky as you can find as the meteors will appear to travel across the entire sky. It is this is reason that an observatory, like FAU's, is a poor choice to go to observe a meteor shower, an even worse place would be a cave! Bring a lawn chair or blanket and a pillow, use bug spray, get comfortable and enjoy the view!

Additional details about meteors, showers or to REPORT your own fireball observations should be done via http://amsmeteors.org.

Solar System Planets:

Mercury is prograding on the far side of the Sun and will reach its superior conjunction on Wed. July the 6th, which makes it very hard to see then. Afterwards start to look for it in the western early evening skies as it will overtake Venus by the 16th of July. On Sunday, the 17th of July, look for both Mercury and Venus to appear in Praecepe M44 the Beehive Cluster in Cancer. Mercury will appear to be a quick snack for Leo the lion by the 23rd of July.

Venus appears in the evening skies with the Gemini twins, still a little too hard to view as it is close to the Sun. It will enter Cancer the crab's realm by July the 10th and get passed by Mercury on July the 16th. Both planets will cross in front of Praecepe, M44, the Beehive Cluster in Cancer on Sunday, the 17th of July. Venus will also be served as a quick snack for Leo the lion, but do so on the 26th of July. It'll cross into Virgo's realm near her outstretched left hand of the star Javijava on August the 24th. Then, on Saturday the 27th of August, it will appear 5 arc minutes, 1/12th of a degree, away from Jupiter, just as the skies get dark! A simultaneous easy sight to behold in small telescopes and binoculars! Just be very careful with the nearby Sun!

Mars has resumed its apparent prograde motion and can currently be found between the scales of Libra. It will recross Scorpio, starting on Aug. 2nd, reenter Ophiuchus on the 21st, enter Scorpio again on the 27th at their jagged boundary, and reenter Ophiuchi on Sept. the 2nd. It will finally pass into Sagittarius on Sept. 21st.

Small image of spacecraft Juno and Jupiter.Jupiter is progressing in a stately fashion south of Leo the lion. On July the 4th, it will be visited by a new planetary probe, NASA's Juno spacecraft! More information about Juno can be found at its homepage of www.missionjuno.swri.edu/. It has already entered Jupiter's magnetosphere! This mission has the potential to rewrite our understanding of the solar system's planetary formation! Stay tuned!

Jupiter will cross into Virgo's realm on Aug. the 8th. And, as if all the attention with the Juno spacecraft wouldn't be enough, Jupiter will appear to have a brief rendezvous with Venus on Saturday the 27th of August. The two planets will appear only 5 arc minutes, 1/12th of a degree, apart from each other, as the skies get dark! It will be a simultaneous easy sight to enjoy in small telescopes and binoculars! Just be very careful with the nearby Sun!

Saturn currently is in retrograde in Ophiuchus and will resume a prograde motion on Aug. the 12th. It will stay with the serpent bearer until Feb. 24th of 2017.

Uranus is advancing through Pisces and will appear with the fish until Apr. 28th, 2018. Right now, it doesn't rise until 3 am in the morning. It will start its retrograde on July 29th.

Neptune is less than 1° away, south and east, from λ Aquarii appearing in the morning skies. It just started its retrograde on June the 13th and will reach its opposition on Sept. 2nd. Neptune will reside with Aquarius the water bearer until 2022.

dwarf planet Pluto is retrograde and appears east of the bowl of the teaspoon asterism, about 45 arc-minutes west of the star Albaldah, where the teaspoon bowl attaches to its handle. As can be expected, it's apparent magnitude is a very dim mv = 14.19, and is getting brighter. You will need a big telescope to see it. On the 25th, it will appear less than 3 arc minutes away from Albaldah. If you try for it, its moon Charon will even dimmer at mv = 16.03. They are both very small are 32 astronomical units away!

Can You Identify This Image?

The image at the right shows locations of:

  1. southeast U.S. cities seen at night from space.
  2. inefficiently used energy resources and tax dollars continuously squandered by local city planners.
  3. local populations who are losing their humbling sense of wonder and awe of the night sky's majesty.
  4. increased, widespread disruptions to the local natural environment.
  5. projected increases of health problems in the local populations.
  6. all of the above.
Lights at night in Florida, Dec. 2010, taken by Exp. 26 on the ISS.
Image Credit: NASA, ISS Expedition 26, Dec. 2010.

Department of Physics
Florida Atlantic University
Boca Raton, Florida
E-mail: vandernoot at sci dot fau dot edu
Phone: 561 297 STAR (7827)

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