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Link to the IAU's International Year of Astronomy at www.astronomy2009.org

Florida Atlantic University
Astronomical Observatory

Facebook image link to Florida Atlantic University Astronomical Observatory's Facebook page


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, 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.

Cassini's image of Saturn on April 2, 2004. 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.

Cassini's image of Saturn on April 2, 2004.Saturn's 2015 Opposition to the Sun -- May 22nd - 23rd.

On the evening of Friday, May the 22nd, the FAU Astronomical Observatory invites the public to come and celebrate Saturn's 2015 Opposition to the Sun. The precise opposition time is the 23th at 0057 EDT.

Date & Time: From 8:00 pm EDT, Friday, May 22nd until 2:00 am EDT, Saturday, May 23rd 2015.
Activities: Telescopic observations and presentations about Saturn and its moons for its 2015 Opposition to the Sun!
Details: An outer planetís opposition to the Sun means that they appear at the opposite positions of the sky. This means that we are in a direct line between the outer planet and the Sun and we will be as close as we can be to the planet for this orbital pass. By my computer calculations, this should occur at 0057 EDT on May the 23rd, Saturn will appear in such a position at a distance of 8.966671044 au away. The FAU Observatory plans to show the planet off on the very night of the opposition itself! If you have never seen these astonishing rings, this will be a good time to come and do so. They are so amazing that planetary scientists have wondered whether or not we would have ever even been able to imagine the possible existence of rings at all, if we didn't have an excellent and glorious example of them! Sharp and patient eyed visitors may observe the moons change their positions over the course of the night. It is one thing to know that the moons orbit the planet Saturn, but it is quite another thing to observe it yourself. The most noticeable change for the night will be that of Saturn's moon Tethys.
Presentations: The presentation will provide information about Saturn, a view of the history of our attempts to understand it and the incredibly dramatic story of the Cassini-Huygens spacecraft's adventure to explore the true lord of the rings and its moons.

NASA's JPL Solar System Ambassador Logo.This is a combined FAU Astronomical Observatory and a NASA's JPL Solar System Ambassador volunteer event. The Solar System Ambassadors Program of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory offers information and excitement about real missions that explore our solar system. Volunteer ambassadors in communities throughout the country are selected by JPL based on their backgrounds and on their plans for public outreach activities. JPL provides ambassadors with educational materials and training. However, the opinions of Ambassadors are not necessarily those of NASA or JPL. Further information about the Solar System Ambassadors Program is available at http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/ambassador. JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, Calif.

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 local community, their friends and family to come and enjoy the heavens.

After all, it is their universe, too!

The Seoul, South Korean 11th Year Anniversary Light Pollution UCC & Photo Contest

Banner image for the Light Pollution contest from the Lighting Museum in Seoul, South Korea.The FAU Astronomical Observatory is pleased to help support and applaud the Feelux Lighting Museum in Seoul, South Korea, who has partnered with the Seoul Metropolitan Government, for the 11th anniversary of their Light Pollution Photography and Videography Contest for 2015. The purpose of the contest, held annually since 2005, is to increase the global awareness of light pollution and to pursue healthier uses of light that is more harmonious with the environment.

The images/videos submitted to this year's contest should feature either examples of light pollution or examples of natural lights sources that promote coexistence between nature and people in healthier lifestyles. Details of the contest, its guidelines for submissions, and the prizes that can be won are found on the Museum's website at:

The Museum's webpages or our own webpages has more examples and information about light pollution, what it is, what its effects are on the environment, our own health, our energy resources and our safety. Your images can help raise the global awareness of this unnatural, exponentially growing pollutant!

What's Up in the Sky


Section updated: May 18th, 2015.

The Sun currently appears in the constellation of Taurus the bull. It will pass by Mars on June the 14th and enter Gemini on June 22nd, just after reaching the solstice.

Lunar Phases:

FIRST QuarterMay 25th
FULL MoonJune 2nd
LAST QuarterJune 9th
NEW MoonJune 16th
FIRST QuarterJune 24th

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
Jun. 11thGamma
Gamma Delphius ? unknown 55 km/s? Decent skies
to observe in.
Jun. 16thJune Lyrids South of Vega ? down to 0? found in 1966,
last seen in 1996?
Best chances
to observe as
New Moon!
Jun. 27thBootids northern
18 km/s very SLOW,
bright meteors
near the
full Moon
Jul. 28thPiscis
near Fomalhaut ? 5 seen best in the southDifficult
near the
full Moon
Jul. 30thDelta
Delta Aquarius ? 16 41 km/s faint
Sleep in!
Jul. 30thAlpha
north of Alpha
? 5 23 km/s slow,
bright meteors
Sleep in!

Solar System Planets:

Mercury currently appears in the western evening skies in the constellation of Taurus. It reached its greatest elongation from the Sun on May 7th so now it is appearing to dive sunwards. Look for it near Aldebaran and Mars around May 25th. The swift messenger planet will be in conjunction with the Sun on May 30th. After which it will return to the morning skies.

Venus is in the boundaries of Gemini and that brillant object in the west-northwestern sky in the evening, appearing mv = -4.19. It will exit the Twin's realm and enter Cancer the crab's boundaries on June the 3rd. It will continue on and appear next to M44, the Beehive Cluster, at a 0.5° away. This will be a good view for small telescopes. Better still is when it will appear brighter still at mv = -4.44 and only 1/3° away from Jupiter on June the 30th! Don't miss that sight! And by July the 11th it will reach its maximal brightness of mv = -4.47! A view that already many people are noticing lately and asking me about.

Mars is in Taurus the bull, appearing ever dimmer as the old warrior occupys the far side of the solar system from us, at almost 2.5 A.U. away. He'll have a quick meeting with Mercury near Aldebaran around the 25th. Then the Sun itself will pass him during their superior conjunction on June 14th. Afterwards, expect to see him on the flip side of the night in the eastern morning hours.

Jupiter appears in Cancer the crab, rising around 1200 EDT. 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. Then, 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! For not only will the two planets appear so near to each other, but from 2000 EDT until 2200 EDT, Jupiters Great Red Spot will transit the planet and from 2115 to 2120 EDT you can observe its moon Io partially occult its moon Europa! The movements of the moons shows orbital mechanics in action, right before your eyes!

Saturn currently rises after 2000 EDT, with a brightness at mv = 0.03. It currently appears in Libra. It will have its opposition on May the 23rd.

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 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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