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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
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.
News of the Observatory
The Observatory will not host the solar observation on Feb. 5th. I'll be out for a Daughter-Daddy event at her elementary school.
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:
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.
The Sun currently is in Capricornus' realm and will stay with the sea-goat until Feb. the 17th when it will appear with Aquarius. It will continue on into Pisces on March 12th.
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!
Comets: In our predawn skies look at the
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
Additional details about meteors, showers or to REPORT your own fireball observations should be done via http://amsmeteors.org.
All the naked eye planets have grouped together in the early morning skies, something that they haven't done in a decade. And from Jan. the 29th until Feb. the 7th the Moon will pass through the area too! The Moon will be nearest to Mars on the morning of Feb. 1st, nearest to Saturn on the 3rd, and Venus and Mercury on the 6th. If your skies are clear, check it out!
Mercury is now in a prograde motion passing through Sagittarius in the eastern morning skies. It appears
Venus is in Sagittarius and will enter Capricornius on Feb. the 17th and then into Aquarius on the 11th of March. As we enter spring, Venus will get harder to see in the morning skies as she moves ahead of us in her orbit about the Sun.
Mars can be found in Libra's realm. It will appear 1° north of Zubenelgenubi on the morning of Feb. 1st and joined by a last quarter Moon. It will enter Scopius on March 14th and then Ophiuchus on April 3rd. By the 17th of April, it will start its retrograde as it heads toward its opposition to the Sun on May 22nd.
Jupiter is moving in retrograde in the very early morning skies in Leo the lion. By Feb. the 27th, it will be nicely positioned for the Dark Sky Festival and as a special treat, visitors there will be able to witness its moon Europa disapper behind the planet's shadow from 2101 to 2104 EST! Jupiter's opposition to the Sun will be on March 8th. And by July, it will be visited by a new planetary probe, NASA's Juno spacecraft! 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!
Saturn currently appears in Ophiuchus. It starts its retrograde on March 25th and will reach its opposition to the Sun on Jun 3rd.
Uranus is advancing through Pisces and will appear with the fish until Apr. 28th, 2018. We'll lose it in the solar glare by the end of March and expect to see it on the flip side of the night around the second week of April in the morning skies.
Neptune is just over 1.5° away from λ Aquarii appearing in the morning skies. On March 20th, Venus with swing past it at about 0.5° away from it. It will reside in Aquarius until 2022.
dwarf planet Pluto is retrograde and appears in the
Palm Beach County's Dark Sky Festival - IV
When asked to name different types of pollution, it is likely you would name trash or smog but what about light pollution? Did you know that sky glow from artificial lights impacts birds, sea turtles, mammals and even YOU! Come and learn how to fight light pollution, protect wildlife, preserve the night sky, and improve human health by attending Palm Beach County's Fourth Annual Dark Sky Festival!
Keynote Speaker: This year’s Dark Sky Festival will feature Dr. Mario Motta.
Dr. Motta is a practicing cardiologist at the North Shore Medical Center in Salem, Massachusetts. He has served as president of the Massachusetts Medical Society (the organization that publishes the world’s most prestigious medical journal: "The New England Journal of Medicine"), and is on the American Medical Association’s Executive Council for their Council of Science and Public Health. He is also the President of Salem Nuclear Cardiology and the Director of the Nuclear Laboratory at Salem Hospital in Salem, Mass.
When he is not busy saving lives, Dr. Motta is passionate about amateur astronomy, for example he is a Clinical Instructor in Astrophysics at Tufts University. He has one of the world’s most technologically sophisticated amateur observatories, which houses a 32-inch telescope built into the foundation of his house. With his observatory he is a member of the American Assoc. of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO) & helps out NASA with their Gamma Ray Burster Project.
As an amateur astronomer, he became concerned about light pollution and began studying the issue and realized that light pollution not only inhibits our ability to view the night skies, but also affects nighttime vision and the circadian rhythm of humans, plants and animals. As such, he has been extremely active in the fight to limit the effects of light pollution, bringing this matter to the attention of government officials at the national, state and local levels. For years he encouraged members of the medical community to recognize the negative effects of glare on the elderly. His efforts bore fruit in 2009 with the AMA’s passage of Resolution 516 to as an organization officially combat light pollution and glare. And he got them to strengthen their resolution in 2012 with his data and arguments about the strengthening link between light pollution and breast cancer. And after the Festival, he will fly to D.C. to meet with government officials to continue this push.
Finally, he recently co-authored a paper in CA: The Cancer Journal for Clinicians by the American Cancer Society entitled “Breast Cancer and Circadian Disruption from Electric Lighting in the Modern World”.
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Florida Atlantic University
Boca Raton, Florida
E-mail: vandernoot at sci dot fau dot edu
Phone: 561 297 STAR (7827)
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