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C. E. S. College
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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.

News of the Observatory

No Night Observation Session Friday Oct. 14th -- I apologize for the inconvienence that this will cause to my students, but I need to cancel the Night Observation session for Oct. 14th. I will be using the time to train students and make preparations for FAU's High School Expo on Saturday, Oct. 15th.

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: Sep. 15th, 2016.

The Sun is currently in Virgo's realm. 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. So instead now, perhaps we should start to talk about the hip days of October with the Sun and Spica! :-D) ) The Sun enters Libra on Oct. 30th, with a new Moon. So the night of Halloween will be quite dark this year. From Nov. 23rd until Nov. the 29th, the Sun will appear to pass through Scorpio before entering Ophiuchus.

Lunar Phases:

NEW MoonOct. 1st
FIRST QuarterOct. 9th
FULL MoonOct. 16th
LAST QuarterOct. 22nd
NEW MoonOct. 30th

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!

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
~Oct. 8th Draconids Draconis comet 21P
20 km/s very slow,
bright meteors
good all
~Oct. 10th Southern
border, north
of Riga
comet 2P
5 27 km/s slow,
brighter than
average meteors
Oct. 21-22ndOrionids Orion, north
of Betelguese
comet 1P
20 66 km/s fast,
brighter than
average meteors
low counts

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 to go would be a cave! In South Florida, I often advise folks to try the beach, though please be VERY careful during sea turtle season. Egg nests or little hatchlings can be easily crushed by clumsy feet. Use only red LED flashlights if you go to the beach to not only avoid stepping on these reptiles, but the color also protects your night vision (and of course your night time circadian rhythm, too) so that you can see the show. Bring a blanket, 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 currently appears in Virgo's realm, appear 1.25° north of Javijava on Oct. 5th, will 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 Libra's realm as it continues to head away from the Sun and its encounter with Jupiter. It is steadily getting brighter. It will 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 Sagittarius the archer. The old warrior will appear just 11 arcminutes south of Kaus Borealis (which make the top of the Sagittarius teapot asterism or the top of the archer's bow) 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.

Small image of spacecraft Juno and Jupiter.Jupiter is progressing in a stately fashion in Virgo's realm, nearing the star Porrima at Virgo's left shoulder. Jupiter appears in the eastern morning skies just before dawn.

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. 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 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 bowl of the teaspoon asterism, about 45 arc-minutes west of the star Albaldah, where the teaspoon bowl attaches to its handle. As can be expected, it's apparent magnitude is a very dim mv = 14.19, and is getting brighter. You will need a big telescope to see it. On the 25th, it will appear less than 3 arc minutes away from Albaldah. If you try for it, its moon Charon will even dimmer at mv = 16.03. They are both very small are 32 astronomical units away!

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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