"Meet the Universe" Course Being Offered This Spring!
"Meet the Universe" at the
for Adult Education
Cambridge Center for Adult Education
Spring Session begins March 31, 2015
Bonus: you'll get a chance to use a large telescope at a real Observatory!
No math or previous science background required - just an ethusiasm to get to know what's around you!!
8 Tuesdays 8:00 – 9:30 PM
Runs March 31 - May 19, 2015.
The trip to a local observatory is tentatively scheduled for April 28, 2015. We plan to meet there at 8:00.
Directions and contact information will be handed out in the prior class.
Check back here for weather cancellations.
April Astronomy-Related Events in the Boston Area
Thursday, April 9th, 2015, at
Thursday, April 9th, 2015, at 8:00 PM.
Amateur Telescope Makers of Boston (Boston area’s largest and oldest astronomy club).
(Meets every 2nd Thursday
except August) .
Topic and Presenter:
Uncovering the Chemistry of Earth-like Planets, Li Zeng
Topic and Presenter: Uncovering the Chemistry of Earth-like Planets, Li Zeng
We propose to use evidence from our solar system to understand
exoplanets, and in particular, to predict their surface chemistry and
thereby the possibility of life. An Earth-like planet, born from the
same nebula as its host star, is composed primarily of silicate rocks
and an iron-nickel metal core, and depleted in volatile content in a
systematic manner. The more volatile (easier to vaporize or dissociate
into gas form) an element is in an Earth-like planet, the more depleted
the element is compared to its host star. After depletion, an Earth-like
planet would go through the process of core formation due to heat from
radioactive decay and collisions. Core formation depletes a planet’s
rocky mantle of siderophile (iron-loving) elements, in addition to the
volatile depletion. After that, Earth-like planets likely accrete some
volatile-rich materials, called “late veneer”. The late veneer could be
essential to the origins of life on Earth and Earth-like planets, as it
also delivers the volatiles such as nitrogen, sulfur, carbon and water
to the planet’s surface, which are crucial for life to occur. We plan to
build an integrative model of Earth-like planets from the bottom up. We
would like to infer their chemical compositions from their mass-radius
relations and their host stars’ elemental abundances, and understand the
origins of volatile contents (especially water) on their surfaces, and
thereby shed light on the origins of life on them.
We propose to use evidence from our solar system to understand exoplanets, and in particular, to predict their surface chemistry and thereby the possibility of life. An Earth-like planet, born from the same nebula as its host star, is composed primarily of silicate rocks and an iron-nickel metal core, and depleted in volatile content in a systematic manner. The more volatile (easier to vaporize or dissociate into gas form) an element is in an Earth-like planet, the more depleted the element is compared to its host star. After depletion, an Earth-like planet would go through the process of core formation due to heat from radioactive decay and collisions. Core formation depletes a planet’s rocky mantle of siderophile (iron-loving) elements, in addition to the volatile depletion. After that, Earth-like planets likely accrete some volatile-rich materials, called “late veneer”. The late veneer could be essential to the origins of life on Earth and Earth-like planets, as it also delivers the volatiles such as nitrogen, sulfur, carbon and water to the planet’s surface, which are crucial for life to occur. We plan to build an integrative model of Earth-like planets from the bottom up. We would like to infer their chemical compositions from their mass-radius relations and their host stars’ elemental abundances, and understand the origins of volatile contents (especially water) on their surfaces, and thereby shed light on the origins of life on them.
April 16th, 2015, at 7:30 PM.
Thursday, April 16th, 2015, at 7:30 PM.
(Free lecture and observing every 3rd Thursday except June, July, and August – and sometimes December).
Topic and Presenter: Astronomy in the Year 2020, Jeff McClintock
Travel into the future for a preview of the Giant Magellan Telescope. This cathedral-sized telescope perched on a Chilean mountaintop will, like Star Trek's Enterprise, take us where no one has gone before. Stunning developments in optics technology will deliver images 10 times sharper than those of the Hubble Space Telescope. The Center for Astrophysics is not only a founding partner in this grand endeavor, but also is building the premier first-light instrument that will study other earths, the first stars, and the origin of our universe. Jeff McClintock is a senior astrophysicist at the CfA and a lecturer in the Harvard University Astronomy Department.
Thursday, April 16th - Friday, April 17th.
In the past ten years, NEAIC has grown in both size and stature, becoming one of the most eagerly anticipated astronomical imaging conferences in the United States.
Devoted to all aspects of Astronomical Imaging, this two-day event hosts leaders and acknowledged experts in extra solar planets, variable star, minor planets, asteroids, comets, and supernova research with the intention of fostering pro-am collaborations. With attendance expected to be nearly 200, you will be very busy both days networking and learning from both amateur, semi-pro, and professional astronomers.
Saturday, April 18th - Sun., April 19th.
Bringing you the Universe in two exciting event-packed days, NEAF is renowned worldwide as the ultimate astronomy experience. Nowhere else can you find so much in one place or at one time.
Friday, April 17 - Sun., April 26th, 2015
Some of the astronomy-related events in presented in the Cambridge Science Festival include:
Sunday, April 19, 2015, 12:00 PM - 4:00 PM.
Cambridge Explores the Universe (a Cambridge Science Festival Event at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics)
Become and astronomer for a day! Enjoy exploration stations that include hands-on activities, telescope tours, ask an astronomer booths, and solar observing. Find out the latest discoveries about the Sun, exoplanets, and black holes, and take your own telescope images using our robotic telescopes. Go on a virtual tour of space using the World Wide Telescope visualization lab. It's out of this world!
Sunday, April 19, 2015, 2:30 PM - 3:30 PM.
Astronaut Chris Cassidy has spent 181 days in space, including five space walks as part of shuttle mission STS-127 and as a member of the International Space Station crew on Expedition 35. Learn more about being an astronaut and living in space for months at a time.
Science meets comedy and pop culture onstage at StarTalk Live!, the StarTalk Radio road show that’s entertaining and educating sold-out audiences around the country! Just like the award-winning podcast and radio show, StarTalk Live! explores current events from the frontiers of science, and includes scientists, celebrities and comedians as featured guests. This very special installment is part of the Eugene Mirman Comedy Festival and is sponsored by WBUR 90.9 FM.
Tuesday, April 21, 2015, 6:30 PM - 8:00 PM.
Located about 25 miles northwest of Cambridge, MIT Haystack Observatory specializes in applications of radio science, including astronomy and ionospheric research. Come see our gigantic telescopes and learn about how we use them to investigate everything from black holes to space weather.
Friday, April 24th, 2015, 8:00 PM - 10:00 PM
Deguglielmo Plaza in Harvard Square in front of 27 Brattle Street, Cambridge
You may be in the middle of the city, but that doesn’t mean you can’t see the stars! Join us in Harvard Square to get a fantastic view of the Moon, Jupiter, double stars,and star clusters. In case of clouds ONLY, the event will move to Saturday, April 25. Note: Check for weather cancellations and updates at www.bostonastronomy.net. Cost: Free. Weather-dependent.
Saturday, April 25, 2015, 1:00 PM - 4:00 PM.
Travel into the atmosphere and beyond with the MIT community who are working at the upper edges of our skies. Behold Terrafugia’s roadable plane, pilot a flight simulator, explore rockets and gyroscopes with Draper Laboratory researchers, discuss the feasibility of a Mars exploration station, learn about the Global Space Balloon Challenge, and more!
Tuesdays (beginning March 31)
Clay Center Observatory
Dexter Southfield School
617-454-2795 (appoint. required)
Open Night at Coit Observatory most Wednesdays 8:30 PM - 9:30 PM.
Thursdays (every third Thursday of month):
Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
Public Observatory Night 8;30 PM - 10:00 PM.
Fridays (beginning March 13):
Museum of Science
"Astronomy after Hours" public viewing at Guilliland Observatory 8:30 PM - 10:00 PM.
The Sky Report for the Month of April 2015
There is a Total Lunar Eclipse on April 4th, best visible in the western half of the U.S.(See our “What’s New” section.)
Phases of the Moon:
8:06 AM EDT
Last Quarter Moon
11:44 PM EDT
2:57 PM EDT
7:55 PM EDT
The Moon & Planets:
In Evening (after sunset):
In Evening (after sunset):
Mars, in W
Mercury, in W
Venus, in W
Venus, in W
Jupiter, in S
Jupiter, in S
Jupiter, in W
Jupiter, in W
Saturn, in SE
Saturn, in SE
In Morning (before sunrise):
In Morning (before sunrise):
Saturn, in SW
Saturn, in SW
Neptune, in E
Uranus, in E
The Lyrid meteors peak on the night of April 22-23.
Venus visits the "Seven Sisters"
On the 11th, Venus passes lies just 3° to the left of the Pleiades.
Both are in the glow of twilight, but the planet is so bright – and the star pattern so distinctive – that they will be easy to pick out.
Venus will be in the vicinity of the cluster for several days.
(April 11, 2015, 8:00 PM EDT).
Hiding in Plain Sight
Lovejoy, the comet that has provided us with entertainment for months, is now visible all night for observers in the Northern hemisphere.
By mid-month, it will be moving northward between Cassiopeia and Cepheus. However, it has faded dramatically and seeing it now requires optical aid.
(April 15, 2015, 11:00 PM EDT).
The annual Lyrid meteor shower peaks on the night of the 22nd – 23rd.
With the crescent Moon setting just after midnight, there will be no interference from its light.
Though its radiant – the apparent direction the meteors come from - lies in Lyra, the meteors can appear just about anywhere in the sky.
(April 22, 2015, 10:00 PM EDT).
A Lunar Eclipse - Barely!
There will be a lunar eclipse on April 4. The entire eclipse is visible from an areas centered around the Pacific Ocean. This includes all but easternmost North America. (The penumbral portion of the eclipse – occurring as the Moon enters Earth’s outer shadow - will be visible from the entire U.S., but during this phase of the eclipse, the change in the Moon’s appearance will be subtle and most likely unnoticeable.)
The area of visibility of the
April 4 lunar eclipse .
The Moon begins its entry into the deep shadow of Earth’s umbra at 10:16 UT (Universal Time is 4 hours ahead of EDT, and 7 hours ahead of PDT.) The entire Moon is in the umbra by 11:58 UT. At this time the Moon will be significantly darkened, and may appear blood red as it is lit only by sunlight refracted around the edges of Earth by our planet’s atmosphere.
The Full Moon’s disk stays in the Earth’s shadow only briefly.
(Times here are in CDT, which is 5 hours behind UT).
So far, this sounds like a typical lunar eclipse. But, in fact, it’s unusual precisely because the entire Moon spends only 4 minutes and 43 seconds with its entire disk in the umbra. The Moon begins leaving the umbra at 12:03 UT. This is shortest period of totality of any lunar eclipse in the 21st century! In fact, we’d have to go back to October 17,1529 to find an eclipse this short; the next one that is shorter will be on September 11 of 2155!
The Moon leaves the umbra at 1:45 UT. The next total lunar eclipse – with much better viewing prospects – will occur on September 28 of this year.
A Schedule of Events: Apr. 2015
|Apr. 1||Wed.||9:01 AM EDT||Moon @ apogee (406,012 km / 252,284 mi)|
|Apr. 4||6:15 AM EDT||Partial Lunar Eclipse begins|
|Apr. 4||Sat.||6:26 AM EDT||Moon sets in W in Boston|
|Apr. 4||Sat.||7:54 AM EDT||Total Lunar Eclipse begins|
|Apr. 4||Sat.||8:06 AM EDT||Full Moon ("Full Pink Moon")|
|Apr. 6||Mon.||10:00 AM EDT||Uranus @ solar conjunction|
|Apr. 8||Wed.||9:00 AM EDT||Moon 2° N of Saturn|
|Apr. 9||Thur.||12:00 AM EDT||Mercury @ superior conjunction|
|Apr. 11||Sat.||45th Anniversary: Apollo 13 launch|
|Apr. 11||Sat.||6:00 PM EDT||Venus 3° SSE of Pleiades|
|Apr 11||Sat.||9:41 PM EDT - 9:50 PM EDT||Europa eclipses Ganymede (mag. drop: 1.0)|
|Apr. 11||Sat.||11:44 PM EDT||Last Quarter Moon|
|Apr. 12||Sun.||Yuri's Night - World Space Party|
|Apr. 13||Mon.||9:28 PM EDT - 9:33 PM EDT||Io eclipses Europa (mag. drop: 0.6)|
|Apr. 15||Wed.||7:00 AM EDT||Moon 4° NNW of Neptune|
|Apr. 16||Thur.||11:48 PM EDT||Moon @ perigee (361,023 km / 224,329 mi)|
|Apr. 17||Fri.||9:28 PM EDT - 9:37 PM EDT||Callisto occults Ganymede (mag. drop: 1.0)|
|Apr. 18||Sat.||2:57 PM EDT||New Moon|
|Apr. 18||Sat.||9:18 PM EDT - 9:21 PM EDT||Month's brightest pass of ISS (mag. -3.4)|
|Apr. 19||Sun.||12:59 AM EDT - 1:08 AM EDT||Europa eclipses Ganymede (mag. drop: 1.1)|
|Apr. 19||Sun.||6:00 AM EDT||Sun enters Aries|
|Apr. 19||Sun.||4:00 PM EDT||Moon 3° SSE of Mars|
|Apr. 20||Mon.||11:43 PM EDT - 11:48 PM EDT||Io eclipses Europa (mag. drop: 0.6)|
|Apr. 21||Tue.||2:00 PM EDT||Moon passes 7° S of Venus|
|Apr. 22||Wed.||4:00 PM EDT||Mercury 1.3° NNW of Mars|
|Apr. 22||Wed.||8:00 PM EDT||Lyrid Meteors peak (15 - 20 meteors per hour?)|
|Apr. 25||Sat.||National Astronomy Day (spring)|
|Apr. 25||Sat.||7:55 PM EDT||First Quarter Moon|
|Apr. 26||Sun.||2:00 PM EDT||Moon 5° S of Jupiter|
|Apr. 28||Tue.||1:58 AM EDT - 2:03 AM EDT||Io eclipses Europa (mag. drop: 0.6)|
|Apr. 28||Tue.||11:55 PM EDT||Moon @ apogee (405,083 km / 251,707 mi)|
|Apr. 30||Thu.||???||MESSENGER Orbiter impacts Mercury's surface|
* bold = cool or important!
|May 5 - 6||Eta Aquarid meteors peak|
|May 7||Mercury @ greatest elongation east (evening "star"); excellent|
|May 23||Saturn @ opposition|
|Jun. 6||Venus @ greatest elongation east (evening "star"); excellent|
|Jun. 14||Mars @ solar conjunction|
|Jun. 14||Earliest sunrise (5:07 AM EDT)|
|Jun. 21||June Solstice|
|Jun. 24||Mercury @ greatest elongation west (morning "star")|
|Jun. 27||Latest sunset (8:25 PM EDT)|
|July 1||Venus 30' to lower left of Jupiter (daytime best!); both disks are 32.5" across!|
|July 6||Earth @ aphelion|
|July 6||Pluto @ opposition|
|July 12||Venus @ greatest brilliancy (-4.69)|
|July 14||New Horizons Closest Approach to Pluto|
|July 25||Ceres @ opposition|
|July 28 - 29||Delta Aquarid meteors peak (poor)|
|Aug. 12 - 13||Perseid meteors peak (excellent)|
|Aug. 13||Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko (and Rosetta!) @ perihelion|
|Aug. 15||Venus @ inferior conjunction|
|Aug. 26||Jupiter @ solar conjunction|
|Sept. 1||Neptune @ opposition|
|Sept. 4||Mercury @ greatest elongation east (evening "star")|
|Sept. 4||Moon occults Aldebaran|
|Sept. 13||Partial Solar Eclipse|
|Sept. 19||National Astronomy Day (fall)|
|Sept. 20||Venus @ greatest brilliancy (-4.76)|
|Sept. 22||September Equinox|
|Sept. 28||Total Lunar Eclipse (both sides of the Atlantic)|
|Oct. 8 - 9||Draconid meteors peak (poor)|
|Oct. 11||Uranus @ opposition|
|Oct. 16||Mercury @ greatest elongation west (morning "star")|
|Oct. 17||Mars 27' to upper left of Jupiter|
|Oct. 21 - 22||Orionid meteors peak (excellent)|
|Oct. 26||Venus @ greatest elongation west (morning "star")|
|Oct. 26||Venus 1.1° to lower right of Jupiter, 3° to upper right of Mars|
|Nov. 3||Venus 40' to lower right of Mars|
|Nov. 5 - 6||S. Taurid meteors peak (poor)|
|Nov. 12||N. Taurid meteors peak|
|Nov. 17 - 18||Leonid meteors peak (excellent)|
|Nov. 26||Moon occults Aldebaran|
|Nov. 30||Saturn @ solar conjunction|
|Dec. 7||Waning crescent Moon occults Venus (daytime event)|
|Dec. 8 - 9||Earliest sunset (4:12 PM)|
|Dec. 13 - 14||Geminid meteors peak (excellent)|
|Dec. 21||December Solstice|
|Dec. 22 - 23||Ursid meteors peak (poor)|
|Dec. 29||Mercury @ greatest elongation east (evening "star")|