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Web Site for the International Year of Astronomy

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
Visual Sun
is provided by

Image of the current Sun in H-alpha light is provided by the National Solar Observatory/AURA/NSF
Hα Sun is
provided by

Solar X-rays:
Geomag. Field:
Solar X-ray Status
Geomagnetic Field Status

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, 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:

News of the Observatory

Feb. 9th Although we had cloudy skies, the celebration of Jupiter's 2015 Opposition to the Sun on February 6th - 7th was quite a hit! A very curious crowd of people asked many questions about Jupiter, its moons, what we understand of the formation of the solar system and of the current Juno spacecraft mission on its way right now to Jupiter it get some answers. Thank you one and all for coming!

Jan. 23rd The Observatory will be altering its schedule from Tuesday Jan 27th to Monday Jan. 26th to allow for people to view asteroid 2004 BL86 pass by the Earth. This is a one time change for this event, and the regular schedule will resume the next week.

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: Mar. 9th, 2015.

The Sun currently appears in the constellation Aquarius' realm. Daylight-shifted time starts on the second Sunday in March on the 8th. The Sun crosses into Pisces on Mar. 12th as it steadily progresses toward the equator on Mar. 20th, bringing spring to the northern hemisphere at 1840 EDT. Gets passed by Mercury on Apr. the 10th and enters Aries the ram on Apr. 19th. It then enters Taurus's the bull's realm on the 15th of May. Passing by Mars on June the 4th and entering Gemini on June 22nd.

Lunar Phases:

LAST QuarterMar. 13th
NEW MoonMar. 20thSolar Eclipse for Iceland
FIRST QuarterMar. 27th
FULL MoonApr. 4thLunar Eclipse for W. Pacific Ocean
LAST QuarterApr. 12th

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 Date Name Radiant's
Source Zero
Mar. 14thGamma
SW of Scorpio 6 scarcely witnessednot worth it
Apr. 23rdLyrids between Lyra
& Hercules
comet C/1861 G1
up to 90
ave. 18
49 km/s somewhat fast,
brighter than
average meteors,
~1 in 5 have trains
Go for it!
Apr. 23rdPi Puppids south of π Puppis comet 26P
up to 38,
on 26P's
best seen in far southFavorable
Go for it!

Mercury currently appears in the morning in the constellation of Capricornus. It will leave its boundaries very late on Mar. 10th and enter Aquarius' region, passing through there into Pisecs on March 30th, briefly passing through Cetus on April 3rd, returning back into Pisces as it approaches the Sun for a superior conjunction on Apr. 10th. After then, look for it to appear in the evening skies.

Venus is in Pisces. She will stay with the fish until March 16th when she will enter the boundaries of Ares the ram and then onto Taurus the bull by April 7th. She'll appear just under 2.5° away from Messier 45, the Pleiades on April 11th. Then she'll continue on into Gemini on May the 8th, then appearing just over 1.5° away from the open cluster Messier 35.

Mars has been left behind by Venus in Pisces, appearing to catch her, but she is too swift for him. So he will continue his slow march forwards to Ares the ram, entering that realm on Mar. 30th, and appearing ever dimmer as he occupys the far side of the solar system from us. Mercury will appear to buzz by him on April 22nd. The old warrior will enter Taurus on May 3rd and then the Sun itself will pass him during their conjunction on June 14th. Afterwards, expect to see him on the flip side of the night in the eastern morning hours.

Jupiter, rising around 1640 EDT, is still retrograding in Cancer and will continue to do so until Apr. 8th when he becomes stationary and resumes prograde motion. Jupiter will reenter Leo on June the 8th and on June the 20th will appear in a nice triangle with a cresent Moon and Venus. On June the 30th look for Jupiter and Venus to appear about 1/3° apart from each other. A sight that is not to be missed!

Saturn currently rises just after midnight, with a brightness at mv = 0.44. It currently appears near ν Scorpii before dawn in the eastern skies. A waning crescent Moon will pass it by on Mar. 12th and will start its retrograde on March 14th. It will enter Libra on May the 2th and reach opposition on May the 23rd.

Uranus is slowly advancing through Pisces. Likewise, Uranus and Mars will appear on March 11th only 32 arc minutes apart! This will occur near sunset that day, so watch carefully. Again, Uranus will be the next brightest thing next to the red planet on that date, so prepare your telescopes or binoculars! Uranus will appear with the fish until Apr. 28th, 2018! Its opposition will occur on Oct. 12th.

Neptune is currently just under 2° north and east of Sigma Aquarii in the morning skies. It will get as close as 2° to λ Aquarii when it starts its retrograde, reaching opposition on Sept. 1st. It will reside in Aquarius until 2022.

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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