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C. E. S. College
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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:

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.

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: Aug. 29th, 2016.

The Sun is currently in Leo the lions 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.

Lunar Phases:

LAST QuarterAug. 25th
NEW MoonSep. 1stMid Africa gets an annualar solar eclipse.
FIRST QuarterSep. 9th
FULL MoonSep. 16thMid Eurasian penumbral eclipse of the Moon.
LAST QuarterSep. 23th
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 is the one that 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
~July 28th Piscis
? 5 35 km/s seen best in the south Doable, past
3rd Qtr. Moon
July 27-28thAlpha
north of α
5 23 km/s slow,
bright meteors
Doable, past
3rd Qtr. Moon
July 28-29thDelta
δ Aquarius comet 96P
16 41 km/s faint
Doable, past
3rd Qtr. Moon
Aug. 12-13Perseids Perseus comet 109P
100 59 km/s fast, bright
colorful meteors,
may be double
Can do, but
waxing gibbous
Moon won't help.
~Sep. 1 Aurigids Auriga comet C/1911 Kiess? 6 66 km/s fast, some
Best chance
before dawn
~Sep. 9 Epsilon
ε Perseus ? 5 64 km/s fast, some
good all
~Oct. 8 Draconids Draconis comet 21P
20 km/s very slow,
bright meteors
good all
~Oct. 10 Southern
border, north
of Riga
comet 2P
5 27 km/s slow,
brighter than
average meteors
Oct. 21-22Orionids 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 would be a cave! Bring a lawn chair or blanket and a pillow, 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 during the just post-twilight hours in the western skies and begins its retrograde back across the Sun on Sep. 1st. It will each inferior conjunction with the Sun on Sep. 12th and then appear in the morning skies after then.

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 slim boundary of Scorpio as of the 27th, but not for long. It will exit this jagged boundary and reenter Ophiuchus on Sept. the 2nd and finally 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.

Small image of spacecraft Juno and Jupiter.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. It will reach its opposition on Sept. 2nd. 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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