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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, 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 boundaries of Aquarius, the Water Bearer. Note: we are required
to adjust our clocks for
Lunar Phases: FIRST Quarter Moon Mar. 8th; FULL Moon: Mar. 16th; LAST Quarter: Mar. 24th; NEW Moon Mar. 30th; FIRST Quarter: Apr. 7th.
Mercury currently appears in the east before dawn in Aquarius and will reenter Capricornius late on March 5th for ten days, for this part of the Sea-Goat's boundaries juts up into Aquarius like the Florida pennisula does out into the ocean. It will cross again Aquarius up til Apr. 5th and enter Pisces until the 10th. It will appear closer to the Sun on the 11th, when you'll find it briefly in Cetus the whale for two days. It will then be back in Pisces and pass behind the Sun on Apr. 26th, for its superior conjunction. After then, it will appear in the evening skies.
Venus is simply stunning at mv = -4.54 in Sagittarius! 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. Venus crosses into Capricornius on March 6th. 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 0936 EST and we are getting closer to it, at around 0.79 a.u. and is getting brighter at mv = -0.53. 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. 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.
Jupiter is in the constellation Gemini, near Mebsuta, below the the belly button of the twin Castor. It is in retrograde, and will resume direct motion on March 6th, and approach the star Wasat. On May 23rd, it will be 0.5° away from the star. Currently, it rises around 1328 EST, but by then it will rise at 0747 DST. Jupiter will now stay with the twins until July 8th, 2014.
Saturn's brightness at mv = 0.40,
is getting brighter now that we are on the approach to it. It appears in Libra, rising around 2322 EST 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.
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Florida Atlantic University
Boca Raton, Florida
E-mail: vandernoot at sci dot fau dot edu
Phone: 561 297 STAR (7827)
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