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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, 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
News of the Observatory
Jan. 23rd The Observatory will be altering its schedule from Tuesday Jan 27th to Monday Jan. 26th to allow for people to view asteroid 2004 BL86 pass by the Earth. This is a one time change for this event, and the regular schedule will resume the next week.
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:
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.
The Sun currently appears in the constellation Sagittarius the Centaur Archer. As we are getting physicsally closer to our star, perihelion is at Jan. 4th, 2015, it appears bigger in the sky, about 1.0% bigger than average, not that we will generally notice this with our eyes, but it can be measured. On Jan. 20th., the Sun will appear to have crossed into the boundaries of Capricornus. It will stay with the sea-goat, crossing into Aquarius' realm on Feb. 16th.
Mercury currently appears in the constellation of Capricornus and seems to try to catch up with Venus
Venus too is in
Capricornus the sea-goat (A
Mars is in Aquarius and will enter Pisces on Feb. 11th. It will have a very close conjunction with Venus and the Crescent Moon on the 20th (see the image in Venus) and then Venus will catch up to it and on Feb. 21st. Thus our two nearest planetary neighbors will appear less than a half a degree apart from each other, on the evening of the Dark Sky Festival III! Parting will be of such sweet sorrow as Venus heads away from him, but he will continue his slow march forwards to Ares the ram appearing ever dimmer as it will be on the far side of the solar system. Mercury will pass it by on April 22nd, and then the Sun itself will pass it on its conjunction on June 13th. Soon afterwards, expect to see it on the flip side of the night in the eastern morning hours.
Jupiter, rising around 2200 EST, currently appears near the mouth of Leo the lion like a tasty snack! Jupiter is retrograding back to Cancer by Feb. 4th just before its opposition to the Sun on Friday, Feb. 6th! FAU Observatory will host an Opposition Celebration event on that evening featuring some of the latest about the King Planet, its moons (expecially Europa) and the Juno spacecraft, on its way now to Jupiter to learn more about the giant planet. Watch for more details coming soon!
Saturn's brightness at mv = 0.54. It appears near θ Libra before dawn in the eastern skies. A waning crescent Moon will pass it by on Jan. 16th. It will enter Scorpio on Jan. 18th and will start its retrograde on March 14th near ν Scorpii and the star Jabbah.
Uranus is slowly advancing through Pisces and will appear with the fish until Apr. 28th, 2018! Its opposition will occur on Oct. 7th and then on morning of October the 8th, Uranus will be less than a degree away from the Moon as the Moon will be eclipsed by the Earth's shadow.
Neptune is currently just over 1.5° north and east of Sigma Aquarii in the evening sky. It will reside in Aquarius until 2022.
Jupiter's 2015 Opposition to the Sun -- February 6th - 7th
On the evening of Friday the 6th of February, the FAU Astronomical Observatory will be celebrating Jupiter's Opposition to the Sun.
Come to the Observatory to celebrate and observe the planet at opposition with us, while pondering some of the astronomical mysteries, such as how did our planets come to exist, that are connected with it. This invitation is open to anyone from FAU, the community, their friends and family to come and enjoy.
After all, it is their universe, too!
Palm Beach County's Dark Sky Festival -- III
When asked to name different types of pollution, it is likely you would name trash or smog but what about light pollution? Did you know that sky glow from artificial lights impacts birds, sea turtles, mammals and even YOU! Come and learn how to fight light pollution, protect wildlife, preserve the night sky, and improve human health by attending Palm Beach County's Third Annual Dark Sky Festival!
Further information can be found at these links: http://idasouthflorida.org, at http://www.pbcgov.org/erm/darkskyfest/ or at this Facebook page:https://www.facebook.com/events/617786058287998/?ref=22.
First of all, while many people celebrate the birth of another famous baby that spawned a whole series of
religions on that date, we do not actually know when he was actually born. One of the only clues we have that is associated with
the event is the report that
However, what we do know is that Sir Issac Newton WAS born on the 25th of December in 1642 (old calendar), the same year that Galileo Galilei died. We do know that Sir Issac was the co-creator/inventor/discoverer (and many argue the prime discoverer) of Calculus, which is probably the single most important discovery for mankind since fire and agriculture! He also discovered his Law of Gravity, his Laws of Motion, the Dispersion of Light and invented the Reflecting Telescope. Not a bad a resume at all! Archimedes himself may have been on the verge to have discovered the Intergral half of Calculus so many centuries earlier. Some speculate that had he done so, humankind might have figured out nuclear physics much earlier than when we did, so much earlier that the Roman Empire could have developed nuclear weapons by the time of the birth of the revered child. While that is a scary thought, I never believed that would have happened, for the Romen psyche did not seem to be scientifically inquisitive like that. By my last count, the only thing that the Empire could say that it contributed to science was the discovery of concrete. Everything else they did was engineering, which is the usage of science, very expertly done in some cases mind you, but still not adding to science itself directly.
I enjoy the spirit of the holiday and its hopes for the betterment of mankind by believing and practicing our
fellowship. I also think that in our society, especially in America, we fail to appreciate the toils, struggles and efforts of
those who, in science, had to endure to make our society what it is today. For example, in our society, not a day goes by were we
are not effected by the ramifications of Calculus, many, many times over. Just consider all that it affects as you celebrate the
The 18th century poet, Alexander Pope,
sums up our efforts in science well when he wrote:
Go, wondrous creature, mount where science guides.
And so I close by saying that we should remember and appreciate the man who was born on Christmas Day,
1642. Again Alexander Pope states my appreciation ever so well when he wrote this intended Epitaph for Sir Issac in Westminster
Abbey to be the following:
Nature and Nature’s laws lay hid in night:
And may we please try to keep the spirit of the
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Florida Atlantic University
Boca Raton, Florida
E-mail: vandernoot at sci dot fau dot edu
Phone: 561 297 STAR (7827)
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