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FAUST Seminar

C. E. S. College
    of Science

Florida Atlantic


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

Florida Atlantic University
Astronomical Observatory

Facebook image link to Florida Atlantic University Astronomical Observatory's Facebook page


The Sun Today:

Image of the current Sun, provided by ESA's & NASA's SDO space telescope and link to sohowww.nascom.nasa.gov
Visual Sun
is provided by

Image of the current Sun in H-alpha light is provided by the National Solar Observatory/AURA/NSF and link to www.nso.edu
Hα Sun is
provided by

Solar X-rays:
Geomag. Field:
Solar X-ray Status from www.n3kl.org/sun/images/status.gif
Geomagnetic Field Status from www.n3kl.org/sun/images/kpstatus.gif

From www.n3kl.org

To NOAA's Space
Weather Scales for
Geomagnetic Storms

The National Academies Press: Severe Space Weather Events--Understanding Societal and Economic Impacts: A Workshop Report (2008)

The National
Academies Press
Severe Space
Weather Events--
Societal and
Economic Impacts:
A Workshop
Report (2008)

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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.

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: Apr. 1st, 2016.

The Sun currently appears in the constellation Pisces. It will appear to enter the constellation Aries on the 18th of April. On the morning of May the 9th, the planet Mercury will cross in front of it as we see them from the Earth. And on May the 14th, the Sun will cross into Taurus.

Lunar Phases:

LAST QuarterMar. 31st
NEW MoonApr. 7th
FIRST QuarterApr. 14th
FULL MoonApr. 22nd
LAST QuarterApr. 29th

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!

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
Apr. 22-23Lyrids between Lyra
& Hercules
comet C/1861 G1
up to 90
ave. 18
49 km/s quick,
brighter than
ave. meteors,
~1/5 w/ trains
Unfavorable: full Moon
~Apr. 23 Pi Puppids south of
π Puppis
comet 26P
up to 38,
on 26P's
best seen in far south Unfavorable: full Moon
May 6-7 Eta Aquarids η Aquarius comet 1P
55-var. 66 km/s fast,
brighter than
average meteors
Little lunar
interference; A
good night for

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 now in a prograde motion passing through Pisces. It is ahead of the Sun and will enter Aries the ram on Apr. the 5th, reach its greatest elongation on Apr. the 28th and THEN swoop back in retrograde to TRANSIT THE SUN on May the 9th. We plan to host an Open dome event for all to see this thirteen times a century event that morning. Please watch for announcements!

Venus appears to be doing something very interesting. Every morning at 6 am since Feb. 22nd until its upcoming conjunction with the Sun, Venus has been "hanging around" almost at the same altitude above the horizon, slowly moving northwards. Of course it is just the current angle of the ecliptic with respect to the horizon here and that the celestial sphere seems to be moving out from behind Venus, as it moves forward in its orbit, but it does look peculiar! Venus enters Pisces on Apr. the 2nd and will enter Cetus on the 11th of April and reenter Pisces on the 14th. Then it will continue on into Taurus on May the 1st. It will get harder and harder to see as we'll lose it in the solar glare for it is traveling around the Sun on the far side of the Solar System right now and will reach superior conjunction with the Sun on June the 6th. Afterwards, expect to see it on the flip side of the night in the evening skies.

Mars can currently be found in Scopius and will enter Ophiuchus on April 3rd. By the 17th of April, it will start its retrograde as it heads toward its opposition to the Sun on May 22nd.

Jupiter is moving in retrograde 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/. This mission has the potential to rewrite our understanding of the solar system's planetary formation! Stay tuned!

Saturn currently is in retrograde in Ophiuchus. It will reach its opposition to the Sun on June 3rd.

Uranus is advancing through Pisces and will appear with the fish until Apr. 28th, 2018. We'll lose it in the solar glare by the end of March. It will reach solar conjunction on Apr. 9th, so we should not expect to see it on the flip side of the night until the third full week of April in the morning skies.

Neptune is just over 1.5° away from λ Aquarii appearing in the morning skies. On March 20th, Venus with swing past it at about 0.5° away from it. It will reside in Aquarius until 2022.

dwarf planet Pluto is retrograde and appears in the bowl of the teaspoon asterism, about 26 arcminutes west of Albaldah, where the teaspoon bowl attaches to its handle. As can be expected, it's apparent magnitude is a very dim mv = 14.25 as it is on the far side of the solar system, so you will need a big telescope to see it.

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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