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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
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, 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: Aug. 6th, 2015.

The Sun will appear in the constellation of Cancer until Aug. the 11th, which then it will enter in Leo the lion's realm. It will appear to pass through Leo's region until Sep. the 17th when it will pass into Virgo's realm.

Lunar Phases:

LAST QuarterAug. 7th
NEW MoonAug. 14th
FIRST QuarterAug. 22nd
FULL MoonAug. 29th
LAST QuarterSep. 5th
NEW MoonSep. 13thPartial solar eclipse visible in S. Pacific.
FIRST QuarterSep. 20st
27th:2107 - 28th:0027 EDT
peaking: 27th:2047 EDT

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
Aug. 12-13Perseids Perseus comet 109P
100 59 km/s fast, bright
colorful meteors,
may be double
Go & enjoy! *
~Sep. 1 Aurigids Auriga ? 6 66 km/s fast
Very tough
with waning
gib. Moon
~Sep. 9 Epsilon
ε Perseus ? 5 64 km/s fast, faint
A decent
chance to
see them!

* - 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 should be heaviest in the wee hours of the morning and will come from the northeast in the constellation Perseus, but appear to travel across the entire sky. So you'll want as clear of a view of the sky as you can find. And this is the reason an observatory is a wrong place to go to observe a meteor shower. The worst place being a cave! Bring a lawn chair or blanket and a pillow, use bug spray, and enjoy the view. This year's shower should be particularly good as we'll be near a somewhat denser debris trail of the comet.

Additional details about meteors, showers or to REPORT your own fireball observations should be done via http://amsmeteors.org.

Solar System Planets:

Mercury currently is in front of Leo the lion making some nice triangles with the planet Jupiter and the star Regulus around Aug. the 6th to the 8th. Its closest appearance to Jupiter, at just over 34 arcminutes apart on the night of August 6-7. Mercury wil enter Virgo's realm on Aug. 23rd and slow to approach its greatest elongation from the Sun on Sept. the 17th. Then it will start its retrograde back across the Sun again.

Venus is getting lost in the glare of the Sun. While it hides in the Sun's light it will barely be in Hydra the sea serpent on Aug. the 10th, reenter Leo on the 14th, at which you may be able to see it in the morning skies by Aug. the 17th. Venus will enter Cancer on Aug. the 19th. It will end its retrograde around Sep. 1st until the 10th near the star Acubens cancerii. On the 10th, look for it to appear in a straight line with Mars and a waning cresent, 27 day old Moon. >>> On the morning of Oct. 9th, Venus will appear with Jupiter, Mars, Regulus and a waning cresent Moon, all within 12° of the sky! <<< And then 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!

Mars appears in Cancer the crab on Aug. 6th and appear at the Beehive Cluster M44 on the morning of Aug. 20th. Mars will enter Leo on Sept. 6th and 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.

Jupiter appears in Leo the lion and will make some nice triangles around the 6th to the 8th with the planet Mercury and the star Regulus. Mercury will make its closest appearance to Jupiter, at just over 34 arcminutes apart on the night of August 6-7. By Aug. the 16th expect to lose the giant planet in the solar glare. Its conjunction with the Sun occurs on the 26th. Look for its reappearance by Sept. 6th in the morning skies. 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. 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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