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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
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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
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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:

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. 17th, 2015.

The Sun will enter Virgo's realm on Sep. the 17th.

Lunar Phases:

FIRST QuarterSep. 20st
27th:2107 - 28th:0027 EDT
peaking: 27th:2247 EDT
LAST QuarterOct. 4th
NEW MoonOct. 12th
FIRST QuarterOct. 20st
FULL MoonOct. 27th

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. 8 Draconids Draconis comet 21P
20 km/s very slow,
bright meteors
Good viewing.
~Oct. 10 Southern
border, north
of Riga
comet 2P
5 27 km/s slow,
brighter than
average meteors
Very good, go for it!
Oct. 21-22Orionids Orion, north
of Betelguese
comet 1P
20 66 km/s fast,
brighter than
average meteors
Very good, go for it!
Oct. 23-24Southern
comet 2P
5 29 km/s slowish,
brighter than
average meteors
Very good, go for it!

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, 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 appears south of Virgo and is in retrograde. It'll reach a maximum of 4° south of the ecliptic (the apparent path that the planets and the Sun follows in their travels about the sky) on the 18th of Sept. It'll go back across the Sun reaching inferior conjunction on Sept. 29th. After then, it'll soon appear in the morning skies with Jupiter, Venus and Mars. On the morning of Oct. the 8th, Mercury crosses the ecliptic northwards. On the morning of the 11th, Mercury will appear just a little over 1° away from the waning sliver of a crescent Moon, around which date it will resume prograde motion and travel, this time, almost through the middle of Virgo. Being the busy messenger planet, Mercury is got places to go. So it will cross into Libra on Nov. the 7th and reach superior conjunction with the Sun on the 17th, after which then it pass back into the evening skies.

The positions of Venus, Jupiter, Mars, a waning crescent Moon all near Regulus of Leo the lion on 2015 Oct. 09 at 0610 EDT. Venus is in Cancer, but will soon enter Leo the lion on Sept. 24th, which she'll share with Mars and Jupiter. The three put on quite a show in the October and November morning skies.
>>> On the morning of Oct. the 9th, Venus will appear with Jupiter, Mars, the star Regulus of Leo the lion and a waning cresent Moon, all within 12° of the sky! <<<
On the morning of Oct. 24th, Venus will appear 29 arcseconds away from the star 59 Leonis, at which then Venus will appear almost 5500x brighter than the star to us here on the Earth! By Oct. 26th, Venus will pass Jupiter by, and then she'll pass by Mars on Nov. 3rd as she'll enter Virgo's realm. Mars and Venus will approach the star Javijava, the left outstreached hand of Virgo. By Nov. the 6th, another waning cresent Moon joins the group.
>>> And on the morning of Nov. the 7th, Venus, Mars and the crescent Moon will make a nice triangle all around Javijava! <<<
Finally, starting after the mornings of Nov. 22nd, look even further eastwards than Venus, to note the comet Catalina (C/2013 US10) will be coming into view. The comet will appear closest to Venus and another crescent Moon on the day that lives on in infamy, Dec. the 7th. This comet should continue grace our morning skies into next year.
Whew! That should be enough to keep you busy for a while! :-D

The positions of Venus, Mars, a waning crescent Moon all around the star Javijava of Virgo 2015 Nov. 07 at 0525 EST. Mars appears with Leo the lion. It will appear 48 arcminutes from Regulus on Sept. 25th. >>> On the morning of Oct. 9th, Mars will appear with Jupiter, Venus, Regulus AND a waning cresent Moon, all within 12° of the sky! <<< Look for Mars to appear less than 0.5° away from Jupiter on Oct. 16th and 17th and pass Jupiter by on Oct. the 18th. It will enter Virgo's realm on Nov. the 2nd and
>>> appear just 59 arc minutes away from the star Javijava, the outstreached hand of Virgo on Nov. the 7th, when it will be joined by Venus and a waning crescent Moon to make a nice triangle around the star! <<<
Mars will continue to march on through Virgo, passing out of her realm and into Libra's on Jan. 17th of next year.

Jupiter appears in the morning skies in Leo the lion. Oh, did I mention that >>> on the morning of Oct. 9th, Jupiter will appear with Mars, Venus, Regulus AND a waning cresent Moon, all within 12° of the sky! <<< On Oct. 11th, its moons Ganymede and Io will both transit across the planet. And look for it to appear less than 0.5° away from Mars on Oct. 16th and 17th. On Oct. the 18, Jupiter moons of Ganymede and Io will make a double eclipse on the planet from 544 to 700 EDT. Venus will approach both Mars and Jupiter, making a tighter threesome, from Oct. the 21st for the rest of the month.

Saturn currently appears in Libra with a brightness at mv = 0.28. It will enter Scorpio on Oct. the 16th. On Nov. 7th, it will appear 2 arcminutes away from ν Scorpii. Expect to lose it in the solar glare by the Thanksgiving holiday.

Uranus is slowly advancing through Pisces. Uranus will appear with the fish until Apr. 28th, 2018! Its opposition will occur on Oct. 12th.

Neptune is currently in retrograde at just over 2° away from λ Aquarii appearing after midnight in July. It will reach opposition on Sept. 1st and reside in Aquarius until 2022.

dwarf planet Pluto is retrograde and appears nearly between between ξ1 and ξ2 Sagittii. ξ2 is the star that makes the front lip of the teaspoon to Sagittarian teapot asterism. It's apparent magnitude is a very dim mv = 14.14, so you will need a strong telescope to see it. It will complete its retrograde on Sep. the 24th. And will appear 1 arcminute away from ξ2 on Nov. 17th during its direct motion.

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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