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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 our wallets and resources, to our security and safety, to 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.
News of the Observatory
May 7th, 2013 -- We normally hold two public viewing sessions a month, however, this month the 3rd Tuesday session will be cancelled for anticipated parental leave.
May 1st, 2013 -- Two small announcements: First we had a a really nice opposition event on Tuesday Apr. 30th. While the weather reports had predicted 40 to 70% chances of rain, the sky actually had cleared out amazingly and we had an unobstructed view of the ringed giant all night long. The second item is that now that the summer season is approaching and the nights are unfortunately getting shorter, the Observatory will be starting its summer hours times and opening now at 8 pm. Details are on the "About the Observatory" page.
General Sky Conditions
Solar conditions, atmospheric phenomena and news are reported by Spaceweather.com.
The current sky conditions of Boca Raton are found via the Clear Sky Clock:
Evenings this month: Look for Jupiter to appear in the western sky at twilight. Watch for it to apparently approach and slip behind the Sun over the couse of the month. In the later half of the month, watch for both Venus and Mercury to rise up to meet Jupiter. They'll make quite a nice triangle from the 24th until the 27th of May. Jupiter will continue to be left behind as Venus and Mercury will continue to increase their elongation from the Sun.
Lunar Phases: NEW Moon May 9th; FIRST Quarter: May 18th; FULL Moon: May 25th; LAST Quarter: May 31st.
The Sun currently appears in the constellation Aries, will enter Taurus on May 14th and after June 21st, look for it to appear within Gemini.
Mercury currently appears in Aries. It will reach superior solar conjunction on May 11th and will then pass on into the evening skies. The next day, it will enter Taurus the bull. From May the 24th until the 27th at past 7:30 p.m., we'll have the chance to observe a tight conjunction of Mercury, Venus and Jupiter as they will appear within 5° of each other during this time! It will be a nice view in binoculars IF you are careful and avoid being blinded by the Sun's light! Mercury will reach its greatest elongation to the Sun on June the 12th.
Venus, while it should be brilliant at (mv = -3.90!), it has emerged from the glare of the Sun in the evening skies, though it is still at the far side of its orbit, at 1.689 A.U. away from us, but it is getting closer. Currently find it in Taurus the bull. From May the 24th until the 27th at past 7:30 p.m., we'll have the chance to observe a tight conjunction of Venus, Mercury and Jupiter as they will appear within 5° of each other during this time! It will be a nice view in binoculars IF you are careful and avoid being blinded by the Sun's light! After June 2nd, look for Venus to appear Gemini.
Mars is behind the Sun and entering the morning skies as the Sun "passed" it. In reality, of course, it is the Earth moves faster in its orbit and has moved so that we had "put the Sun between us and Mars". So for a little while, our Martian rovers will be getting a little vacation time as their communications will be blocked by the Sun. On May 22nd, Mars will enter Taurus, then enter Gemini on France's Bastille Day, then on July 22nd, it will appear less than a degree away from Jupiter!
Jupiter is in the constellation Taurus. From May the 24th until the 27th at past 7:30 p.m., Jupiter, Venus and Mercury will appear within 5° of each other in a tight conjunction! It will be a nice view in binoculars IF you are careful and avoid being blinded by the Sun's light! Jupiter will stay with the Bull, until the end of June in 2013 and will be occulted by the Sun on June the 19th, cross the flip side of night and enter the morning skies. However, expect it to be lost in the Sun's glare for the entire month. Now, it is nearing its minimal brightnes at mv = -2.08 and is still getting dimmer as we move further away from it. On July 22nd, it will appear less than a degree away from Mars!
Saturn's brightness is mv = 0.17, though now it is getting dimmer as we move away from it. It offically rises around 7 pm EDT, appears in Libra, is retrograding away from the balancing point star Zubenelgenubi, and will reenter the boundaries of Virgo on May 13th. Now, it appear very close to the star Kappa Virginis, and will appear less than a half a degree away from the star for the early half of July.
Uranus is slowly advancing through Pisces, although it will retrograde back and just barely cross into Cetus between December 10th and the 20th, before firmly afterwards continuing on through Pisces. It will then appear with the fish until Apr. 28th, 2018! For now, it is getting brighter at (mv = +5.93) and its next opposition will be on Oct. 3rd.
Neptune at mv = +7.95. Is residing in Aquarius (how appropriate! :-D ), currently around 3.5° northeast of Iota Aquarii. It will appear to reside in Aquarius until 2022.
The image at the right is a map of locations of:
Image Credit: NASA -- Expedition 26 on the ISS.
Florida Atlantic University
Boca Raton, Florida
E-mail: vandernoot at mail dot sci dot fau dot edu
Phone: 561 297 STAR (7827)
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