The Sun Today
as provided by
of ESA & NASA
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, 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
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 currently appears in the constellation of Pisces and on its way to crossing the celestial
equator on March 20th at 11:57 EST or
Lunar Phases: LAST Quarter: Mar. 24th; NEW Moon Mar. 30th; FIRST Quarter: Apr. 7th; FULL Moon: Apr. 15th & TOTAL LUNAR ECLIPSE; LAST Quarter: Apr. 22th.
While it will be early for us in South Florida, on the morning of April 15th, 2014, while some folks will be still working on their tax returns, the Moon will cross into the Earth's shadow. Look for the full Moon that night and early morning. At 0157 EDT, the Moon will enter the Earth's Penumbra, the outer part of our shadow and the Moon will start to change color, from its bright white and grey, it'll become dimmer and a bit brownish.
As the Moon crosses into the Umbra, the inner darker part starting at 0203 EDT, that color will deepen into an orange-red! This light comes from the Sun as it has passed through the Earth's atmosphere, which refracted away all the other colors of the spectrum leaving only the longer wavelengths to punch through and out on to the Moon. If there was an astronaut, they would see a ring of all the dawn and twilight colors on the Earth at the same time. Naturally, the Moon will look reddish. The colors vary from one eclipse to another. It depends on our weather and the dust content in the atmosphere.
It is during these transistion stages that, to my mind, the Moon clearly appears as a three-dimensional sphere. I love that part!
Finally, after 0425 EDT, the Moon begins to leave the Umbra, and the whole process reverses.
This eclipse will be the first of a lunar eclipse quartet that we'll be treated to, the next will be in Oct. The last lunar eclipse occurred for us back in Dec. 21st, 2010.
More details on this can be found at: Sky and Telescope Magazine.
Mercury currently appears in the east before dawn in Aquarius, getting wet, until Apr. 6th when it will enter Pisces until the 10th. As it appears closer to the Sun, on the 11th you'll find it briefly in Cetus the whale for three days. It will then return to Pisces, appear 1.5° south of Uranus on the 14th and then pass behind the Sun on Apr. 26th for its superior conjunction. After then, it will return to the evening skies.
Venus is simply stunning at mv = -4.41 in Capricornius! Telescopic views of it show it to have a waxing cresent shape, which is getting fatter as the planet moves away from us, while shrinking in apparent size. It will enter Aquarius on the 21st, Capricornis on the 27th and be about 3.5° away from the waning cresent Moon, again re-enter Aquarius on the 4th of April, cross below the ecliptic on the 11th while appear less than 1° from Neptune, and enter Pisces on Apr. 28th. It will enter Cetus on May 9th, enter Pisces again on the 13th and appear 1.3° south of Uranus on the 15th.
Mars is in Virgo, east of Spica, the maiden's left hip. It rises at 2125 DST and we are getting closer to it, at around 0.688 a.u. and is getting brighter at mv = -1.0. As Virgo takes up a large part of the ecliptic, Mars will stay with her until Aug. 10th. On Mar. 19th, Mars, Spica and a waning gibbous Moon will make a nice trianle in the sky. Currently the planet exhibits retrograde motion for on Apr. 8th, Mars will reach its maximal brightness of mv = -1.48 at its opposition point to the Sun. FAU Astronomical Observatory will offer a special public viewing session on the 8th for its opposition event. We have already been able to observe polar ice caps and some surface features on the planet, such as Acidilia Mensa and Terra Meridiani, where the Mars Rover Opportunity still roams. Afterwards, Mars will most closely appear next to theta Virginis on Apr. 10th at 41 arc-minutes away. Because its orbit is more elliptical than others, our closest position to it will be on Apr. 14th. By May 5th, Mars will appear near Porrima, the maiden's left shoulder.
As the Sun sets and the stars come out, find Jupiter straight up overhead in the constellation Gemini,
aside Mebsuta, the the
Saturn's brightness at mv = 0.32,
is getting brighter now that we are on the approach to it. It appears in Libra, rising around 2325 EDT now.
It appears late in the evening skies now. It will have some
Uranus is slowly advancing through Pisces and will appear with the fish until Apr. 28th, 2018! Far off on the other side of the solar system, the Sun will appear to over take it on their conjuction date of April 1st.
Neptune is currently around 3° west of Sigma Aquarii in the morning sky and will reside in Aquarius until 2022. On Apr. 11th, Venus will pass by it by less than 40'.
Palm Beach County's Second Dark Sky Festival
When asked to name different types of pollution, it is likely you would name trash or smog but what about light pollution? Did you know that sky glow from artificial lights impacts birds, sea turtles, mammals and even YOU! Come and learn how to fight light pollution, protect wildlife, preserve the night sky, and improve human health by attending Palm Beach County's Second Annual Dark Sky Festival!
Further information can be found at these links: http://idasouthflorida.org, at http://www.pbcgov.org/erm/darkskyfest/ or at this Facebook page:https://www.facebook.com/events/617786058287998/?ref=22.
On the evening of Tuesday, April 8th, the FAU Astronomical Observatory will be celebrating Mars's
Opposition to the Sun.
So please come to celebrate and observe the planet at opposition, while pondering some of the astronomical mysteries that are connected with it. This invitation is open to anyone from FAU, the community, their friends and family to come and enjoy.
After all, it is their universe, too!
Can You Identify This Image?
Florida Atlantic University
Boca Raton, Florida
E-mail: vandernoot at sci dot fau dot edu
Phone: 561 297 STAR (7827)
FAU telescope astronomy space stars planets asteroids comets constellations star clusters nebula nova supernova Milky Way Andromeda Whirlpool galaxies Florida Atlantic University Public Observatory news college sky conditions light pollution Florida Palm Beach County Broward County Miami Dade County