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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.
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 is currently in Leo the lion's realm. It is due to cross into Virgo's realm Sep. 16th. It'll will be just 2° north of Virgo's hip star Spica on Oct. the 16th. (It was once thought that the dog days of August were so hot because of the Sun and the dog star Sirius had a "conjunction" then. They do so today but, due to the precession of the equinoxes, only do so at the end of June. Now, perhaps we should start to talk about the hip days of October with the Sun and Spica!) It enters Libra on Oct. 30th, with a new Moon. So the night of Halloween should be quite dark this year. Then from Nov. 23rd until Nov. the 29th, the Sun will as always briefly pass through Scorpio before entering Ophiuchus.
For those in North America, the Total Solar Eclipse that we have been waiting for 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 currently appears in Leo in the predawn morning hours. Its time will be short here as Mercury quickly orbits the Sun at an average velocity of 48.3 km/s, 60% faster than the Earth does out here. In fact, if Earth orbited at that speed, we would leave the solar system, never to return. Mercury heads prograde on Sept. 26th as it heads for the far side of the solar system and from our point of view appears to turn sunwards. Look for the messenger planet to appear just 1.5° away from a thin waning crescent Moon on Sept. 29th. On Oct. 3rd it will cross into Virgo's realm, appear 1.25° north of Javijava on Oct. 5th, appear 3/4th of a degree north of Jupiter on Oct. 11th, we'll lose it in the solar glare by around Oct. 21st as it approaches its superior conjunction on Oct. 27th. Then, once again we should soon after that see it on the flip side of the night in the evening hours.
Venus also appears in the evening skies in Virgo as it is heading away from the Sun and its encounter with Jupiter. It is steadily getting brighter. Will pass less then 2.5° north of Spica in Virgo on Sep. 18th at a distance of 1.44 au away from us. It passes into Libra's realm on Sep. 30th and be less than a degree south of Zubenelgenubi on Oct. 5th. She enters Scorpio's realm on Oct. 17th and spends just 7 nights with the starry arachnid before entering Ophiuchi's realm on Oct. 24th. It will spend 16 nights with the serpent bearer, appear just 3° south of Saturn on Oct. 29th and enter Sagittarius's realm on Nov. 9th and will be getting brighter still. Watch for it to reach a maximal brighness on Feb. 17th in 2017.
Mars can be currently be found in Ophiuchus the serpent bearer and will pass into Sagittarius on Sept. 21st. The old warrior will appear just 11 arcminutes south of Kaus Borealis (which make the top of the Sagittarius teapot asterism) on Oct. 7th after 0100 hrs EDT. On Nov. 9th, Mars will advance into Capricorn's domain and command that realm until Dec. 16th, when he'll progress on into Aquarius's boundaries.
Jupiter is progressing in a stately fashion in Virgo's realm, near the star Javijava. We are nearing the far side of the solar System from Jupiter, so we'll soon lose it into the solar glare.
NASA's Juno spacecraft entered into orbit around the giant planet. First polar image is at the twitter page of NASA' Juno mission and more details at NASA's JPL page. Look for a super eye of a storm on Jupiter's poles, is there one like what we observed on Saturn? 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! Jupiter's solar conjunction is to occur on Sep. 26th. The timimg allows us to follow Juno again when it goes into its second braking manuever to begin its full mission at the end of Oct.
Saturn currently is prograding through Ophiuchus and will stay with the serpent bearer until Feb. 24th of 2017.
Uranus is retrograding in Pisces and will appear with the fish until Apr. 28th, 2018.
Neptune is less than 1° away, south and east, from λ Aquarii appearing in the morning skies. Neptune will reside with Aquarius the water bearer until 2022.
dwarf planet Pluto is retrograde and appears east of the
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