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