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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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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:Plutopalooza announcement image.

News of the Observatory

On Jul 14st & 15th, the Observatory will be hosting a PLUTOPALOOZA event, see details below.

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.

On July 14th at 7:49 am EDT, NASA's New Horizons space probe will fly through the Pluto planetary system. It will be 12,390 km (7,700 miles) from the surface at the closest point. This system is a whole new class of planet, where its geology may be made of minerals from Earth-like gases, such as nitrogen, ammonia, and methane and be the first Kuiper belt object that we will ever observe! As the other planets have already had a first look and there is no other mission proposed for other far away Kuiper Belt objects, then this mission will also be our last exploration mission to observe a planetary system for the first time. To find it in the sky, hop down to it in the Solar System Planets section.

PLUTOPALOOZA!Plutopalooza announcement image.

FAU's Astronomical Observatory, various laboratories of the Geosciences department and even the University's Library are working together to celebrate this historic event by hosting "PLUTOPALOOZA", a free open house event that will showcase various aspects of the science involved with the mission at different labs and stations at FAU. Learn about different topics regarding the mission and the Pluto system.

"Pluto Station" will monitor the mission's progress at FAU's Observatory.
"Charon Station" will investigate/discuss the Pluto and Charon's inferred compositions, compositional/density differences, a possible "shared atmosphere", and their cryovolcanism possibilities at the Mineralogy Laboratory.
"Kerberos Station" will demonstrate how hyperspectroscopy works by analyzing sand that YOU can bring in from your own home and compare them with other samples from around the world. Plus you'll get to help a graduate student's research, to boot!
"Nix Station" will discuss the geophysics of planet definitions, orbital transfers, measuring planetary masses, to consider Pluto's density and composition.
"Hydra Station" will discuss and demonstrate techniques of remote sensing.
"Styx Station" will provide artisitc projects and New Horizons model building.
While "Jupiter Station" at the University Library will put on displays about the mission as well.

These various stations will be operating from 12 pm to 9 pm on July 14th and from 12 pm to 6 pm on the 15th.

Parking is available in the parking garage near the football stadium. Pick up a dashboard permit for your car at the Information Booth at the entrance to the campus on West University Drive off of Glades Road. Or send me an email and I can send one back to you to print out. Parking is also available at lots 4 or 7 for this event, however, due to some recent construction on campus, parking is rather tight in those lots.

So, please come to FAU's Astronomical Observatory to get started on your "exploration" of this distant planetary system and share in the fun and excitement of this historic event.

After all, its your universe, too.

The Seoul, South Korean 11th Year Anniversary Light Pollution UCC & Photo Contest

Banner image for the Light Pollution contest from the Lighting Museum in Seoul, South Korea.The FAU Astronomical Observatory is pleased to help support and applaud the Feelux Lighting Museum in Seoul, South Korea, who has partnered with the Seoul Metropolitan Government, for the 11th anniversary of their Light Pollution Photography and Videography Contest for 2015. The purpose of the contest, held annually since 2005, is to increase the global awareness of light pollution and to pursue healthier uses of light that is more harmonious with the environment.

The images/videos submitted to this year's contest should feature either examples of light pollution or examples of natural lights sources that promote coexistence between nature and people in healthier lifestyles. Details of the contest, its guidelines for submissions, and the prizes that can be won are found on the Museum's website at:

The Museum's webpages or our own webpages has more examples and information about light pollution, what it is, what its effects are on the environment, our own health, our energy resources and our safety. Your images can help raise the global awareness of this unnatural, exponentially growing pollutant!

What's Up in the Sky!


Section updated: July 7th, 2015.

The Sun currently appears in the constellation of Gemini. It past its solistice, so now the nights are slowly getting longer in the northern hemisphere. It will enter Cancer on July 21st.

Lunar Phases:

LAST QuarterJuly 8th
NEW MoonJuly 15th
FIRST QuarterJuly 23rd
FULL MoonJuly 31st

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 27-28Alpha
north of α
5 23 km/s slow,
bright meteors
Can be done
gib. Moon
~July 28 Piscis
? 5 35 km/s seen best in the south Can be done
gib. Moon
July 28-29Delta
δ Aquarius comet 96P
16 41 km/s faint
Can be done
gib. Moon
Aug. 12-13Perseids Perseus comet 109P
100 59 km/s fast, bright
colorful meteors,
may be double

More details about meteors, showers or to report your own fireball observation should be done via http://amsmeteors.org.

Solar System Planets:

Mercury currently is leaving Taurus the bull, barely slipping into Orion's boundaries, before entering Gemini's realm on July the 9th. It will pass by Mars on the 16th, appearing 24 arcminutes away from the red planet. Expect to lose it in the glare of the morning Sun by around the 18th as Mercury continues on behind our star. Look for it to reappear in the evening skies in the midst of Cancer the crab by about July 29th, however it will quickly leave Cancer to enter Leo the lion on Aug. 1st. Then it will make a remarkably striaght line segment on Aug. 4th and 5th with Jupiter and Regulus. The two planets and Regulus will make some nice triangles around the 6th to the 8th, with its closest appearance to Jupiter, at just over 34 arcminutes apart on the night of August 6-7. Mercury wil enter Virgo's realm on Aug. 23rd and slow to approach its greatest elongation from the Sun on Sept. the 17th. Then it will start its retrograde back acroos the Sun again.

Venus is in the boundaries of Leo the lion and is that very brillant object in the west-northwestern sky in the evening, getting even brighter still until July 10-11, when it will reach a maximum brightness of mv = -4.47. Its brightness has many people noticing it lately and asking me about. It will make all kinds of triangluar shapes with Jupiter and Regulus for the rest of the month. But on the night of July 18th, look for the three to be accompanied by a new waxing cresent Moon and make an irregular polygon in the evening sky. Just over 10° away from Venus toward the Sun on the 18th, you may be able to spy the tail of the comet PanSTARRS C/2014 Q1. Improve your chances to see this by observing in non-light polluted skies.

Venus will start its retrograde on July the 23rd. Watch for Regulus and the planets to be joined by Mercury around Aug. 2nd. Venus will enter Sextans the sextant on Aug. 3rd, become lost in the glare of the Sun by the 8th. While it hides in the Sun's light it will barely be in Hydra the sea serpent on the 10th, reenter Leo on the 14th, at which you may be able to see it in the morning skies by the 17th. Venus will enter Cancer on Aug. th 19th. On the morning of Oct. 24th, Venus will appear 29 arcseconds away from the star 59 Leonis. Venus will then appear almost 5500x brighter than the star!

Mars appears in Gemini the twins in the eastern morning hours about as far away as it can be in the solar system from us. Mercury will pass by it on the 16th, appearing just 24 arcminutes apart from it. Mars will enter Cancer the crab on Aug. 6th and appear in the Beehive Cluster M44 on the morning of Aug. 20th. Mars will enter Leo on Sept. 6th and appear 48 arcminutes from Regulus on Sept. 25th. Look for it to appear less than 0.5° away from Jupiter on Oct. 16 and 17.

Jupiter appears in Leo the lion and will make a remarkably striaght line segment on Aug. 4th & 5th with Jupiter and the star Regulus. The two planets and Regulus will make some nice triangles around the 6th to the 8th. Mercury will make its closest appearance to Jupiter, at just over 34 arcminutes apart on the night of August 6-7. By the 16th expect to lose the giant planet in the Sun's glare. Its conjunction with the Sun occurs on the 26th. Look for its reappearance by Sept. 6th in the morning skies. On Oct. 11th, its moons Ganymede and Io will both transit across the planet. And look for it to appear less than 0.5° away from Mars on Oct. 16 and 17. Venus will approach the two and make a threesome from Oct. the 21st until the rest of the month.

Saturn currently appears in Libra with a brightness at mv = 0.28. It resumes direct motion on Aug. 2nd. It enters Scorpio on Oct. the 16th. On Nov. 7th, it will appear 2 arcminutes away from ν Scorpii. Expect to lose it in the solar glare by the Thanksgiving holiday.

Uranus is slowly advancing through Pisces. Uranus will appear with the fish until Apr. 28th, 2018! Its opposition will occur on Oct. 12th.

Neptune is currently in retrograde at just over 2° away from λ Aquarii appearing after midnight in July. It will reach opposition on Sept. 1st and reside in Aquarius until 2022.

dwarf planet Pluto as the New Horizons probe flies past the Pluto system, it is retrograde and appears near ξ2 Sagittii, the star that makes the front lip of the teaspoon to Sagittarius' teapot asterism. It's apparent magnitude is a very dim mv = 14.1 and you will need a strong telescope to see it. On July 31st and Aug. 1st, it will appear in the straight line between ξ1 and ξ2 Sagittii. It will appear 1 arcminute away from ξ2 on Nov. 17th during its direct motion.

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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