This website has been created by and is supported by a group of Boston, MA - area amateur astronomers. It is intended to be a convenient site to access news and information about astronomy and space-related activities of interest to the community and the public.
Astronomy Class Beginning in the Fall!
Meet the Uniiverse
Taught by Dan Winchell and John Sheff
When we look up at the night sky, what do we see? Are we alone in the universe? Will humans someday colonize the moon, Mars or even other solar systems? Come learn more about astronomy and this exciting frontier of discovery. We’ll talk about black holes, the cosmic microwave background, and the search for life in the Universe. You’ll get a chance to use a large telescope at a real observatory and learn how to navigate the night sky on your own.
No math or science experience required! Bring your questions!
Meets 8 Tuesdays (September 22 - November 10), 7:45 PM - 9:15 PM,, at Cambridge Center for Adult Education,
To register orr for more information, visit the CCAE website.
A Once-in-a-LifetimeSpecial :
A Family-Frendly Event
Tuesday, July 14, 2015, 7:30 PM – 9:30 PM.
For 9½ years, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft has been coasting towards a fateful encounter with Pluto and its moons. On July 14th, it will arrive! After a journey of nearly a decade, its Close Encounter phase will last just 48 hours! During the busiest hours of the flyby - including the moment of closest approach - the spacecraft will be too busy to communicate with Earth as it soaks up all the data it can during its mad dash through the Pluto system. Once it resumes transmitting, it will still take an additional four hours for its signals, travelling at the speed of light, to reach Earth!
But a lot could go wrong. At the speed it’s moving, it wouldn’t take much of a high-speed impact with any undiscovered moon, possible ring, or other unseen debris to disable or destroy the spacecraft just as it’s making its closest approach to the planet. Will New Horizons survive long enough to “Phone Home” and send us its treasure trove of images and measurements?
We’ll know the minute that NASA does! We’ll be presenting a Live NASA TV broadcast from the Mission Operations Center, including interviews, videos, and status updates, right up until the receipt of the spacecraft’s “I survived” chirp (expected at 9:09 PM)!
Afterwards, if it’s clear, we’ll have telescopes on the roof aimed at Pluto’s location in the sky (plus other targets of opportunity). Pluto is too faint to be visible even in our telescopes, but it’s possible a few photons reflected by the planet may hit our retinas! It should all be great fun, as we’ll have a raffle, photo ops in front of an artistic Pluto landscape, 3-D-Printed models of New Horizons, and who knows what else!
This will probably be the last time in our lives that we will be seeing a “New World” up close for the very first time. Don’t miss your chance!
Please note: Tickets and reservations are neither required nor accepted. As with all of our events, admission will be on a first-come, first-served basis. Once our auditorium and overflow rooms are full, there will be no further admission. In addition, in the interests of fairness to people who will have waited in line, there will be no “saving of seats” for those who cannot be present when the doors are opened.
For more information, including accessibility, or to sign up for the events mailing list, call the Public Affairs Office, (617) 495-7461, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Please request sign-language interpretation at least 2 weeks before the event..
Entrance is at the west of the CfA complex, near Madison Street and large parking lot. The CfA is easily reached by public transportation. From the Harvard MBTA Station (Red Line), take any bus or trackless trolley going west on Concord Avenue (Arlmont Village and Belmont Center buses, Huron Avenue trolleys) and get off at "Observatory Hill."
If you arrive by car, parking is free for the duration of the event (yes, you can park even where the signs say "Parking by Permit Only").
Monday, August 3rd - Friday, August 7th, 2015 (9 AM - 5 PM)
Our Partners at Education Unlimited offer Sally Ride Science Camps, innovative hands-on camps for girls entering 4th - 9th grades.
These unique camps provide girls an opportunity to explore science, technology, and engineering while having fun on a college campus.
From the Education Unlimited website:
Sally Ride Science Camps encourage girls’ interests in science by providing hands-on learning in an environment that is designed to be supportive, enriching, and – most importantly – fun! These unique overnight camps provide girls an opportunity to explore science, technology, and engineering through experiments and observations while staying on a university campus.
Wednesday, August 5th - Friday, August 14th, 2015
The Globe at Night program is an international citizen-science campaign to raise public awareness of the impact of light pollution by inviting citizen-scientists to measure their night sky brightness and submit their observations to a website from a computer or smart phone.
Friday, August 7th - Sunday, August 16th, 2015
Peppermint Park Camping Resort
Observing & Camping Vacation, hosted by the
Rockland Astronomy Club
RAC holds the longest and most exciting star party, geared to both the serious observer, imager, and the whole family. Our location in the Berkshires is known for its pristine dark skies, and gorgeous arching Milky Way.
Halibut Point Star Party
Gloucester Area Astronomical Society
Thursday, August 13th - Sunday, August 16th, 2015
Every year in the dark of a mid-summer new Moon, amateur
astronomers and telescope makers travel great distances to gather on a
beautuful rural hilltop in Springfield, VT. This is the Stellafane
Convention, the oldest and one of the largest assemblies of night sky
enthusiasts. It has been hosted here at the birtthplace of American
amateur telescope making by the Springfield Telescope Makers (STM)
Keynote Speaker: Alan Stern, Principal Investigator for the New Horizons Pluto mission.
Sunday, August 16th - Saturday, August 22nd, 2015
Medomak Astronomy Retreat
hosted by Kelly Beatty and Bruce Berger.
Medomak Retreat Center in Washington, Maine, has some of the darkest
skies in the Northeast, with a limiting visual magnitude of 6.3 (SQM
value: 21.3 MPSAS). It's an IDA-compliant property that takes an active
role in promoting the benefits of dark skies. Medomak's family camp has
hosted an astronomy-themed vacation week for 10 years, and availability
routinely sells out many months in advance.
Saturday, August 22nd, 2015, 8:15l PM.
Arlington Astronomy Night
Robbins Farm Park
This summer there will be a series of Astronomy Nights
at Robbins Farm Park. Each night we'll have at least one telescope out
to view objects in the night sky. This summer we'll have a great display
of planets all summer long. There'll be plenty to see -- the sky is the
limit! The events are totally informal and fun for all ages.
On this night - with the moon partially lit - it is a great time to see the craters and rough terrain of the Moon in a telescope or even through binoculars. Look for spots around the light/dark line (called the terminator) where you can see shadows cast by peaks on the lunar surface. Saturn is very close to the moon tonight.
Friday, August 28 - Saturday, August 29, 2015
Cobscook Bay State Park, Edmunds, Maine
Washington County’s own Astronomy Club
Friday August 28 (can arrive anytime after 1 p.m.) Set up camping gear, telescope
Friday evening observing if clear
Saturday August 29 Solar observing throughout the day (weather permitting) with Marc Fisher, Maine’s own solar astronomer will have his complete solar set up
12:00 p.m Noon. Astronomy Jeopardy (REVISED) (winner will get prize donated by Downeast Amateur Astronomers)
2:00 p.m. (Guest Speaker)
PhD candidate Lauren Woolsey from the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics:
“When astronomers talk about the mysteries of the universe, it is common to think about some distant galaxy or the nature of dark energy. However, there are still many fundamental mysteries about the nearest star to Earth: the Sun! The long days of summer present a great time to talk about these unanswered questions about the Sun. We'll also see how this star compares to others in the galaxy, discuss the connection between the Sun and the Earth, and look at magnificently detailed observations of the Sun's surface and atmosphere”.
4:00 pm (Guest Speaker)
John Stetson, Maine astronomer and teacher will talk on
the Transit of Venus 2012, outreach at the L.C. Bates Museum, measuring the speed of solar flares, observing flares that result in CMEs and auroral activity in Maine, etc.
7:00 p.m. (Guest Speaker)
Marc Fisher, Maine’s own solar astronomer will talk on his automated observatory he operates from his back yard!!!
8:00 p.m. (Guest Speaker)
Paul Butler, Maine astronomer will talk on Astrophotography with emphasis on Moon and Planet shots using CCD’s. as well as using Barlow lenses, Neutral Density Filters, Moon light filters, Tracking and Drive Frequency, Focusing Tools and Editing the Pictures of the Moon and Planets
Saturday evening observing! (Weather permitting)
For more info, contact Charlie Sawyer at 207-214-1846 or e-mail at email@example.com
Water fountain near by as well as Park toilets. Showers also available in park. Each individual/party bring your own food. There is a small grocery store about 4 miles west on Rt. 1
Bring your scope
And bring your tent
We all know
It’s time well spent
Friday, September 4 - Sunday, 6, 2015
Thursday, September 10, 2015 8:00 PM - 10:00 PM
Amateur Telesciope Makers of Boston
Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
Thursday, September 10 - Monday, September 14, 2015
Night Sky Festival
Acadia National Park, ME
Friday, September 11 - Sunday, September 13, 2015
Connecticut Star Party
Astronomical Society of New Haven
September 11 - 13, 2015
Thursday, September 17, 2015 7:30 PM - 10:00 PM
Public Observatory Night
Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
Topic and Speaker: Exploding Stars, w/ Dan Milisavljevvic
Friday September 18, 2015
Annual Starfest Starparty
Astronomical Society of Northern New England
Saturday, September 19, 2015
Amateur Telescope Makers of Boston Annual Club Picnic
and their Families are invited
Saturday, September 19th is the date of this year’s Annual Club Picnic at the Clubhouse in Westford, start time 3:00 P.M. Enjoy a day with good food and lots of astronomy talk with other ATMoB members.
Please bring a favorite dish to share - salad, main dish, dessert, soup, appetizer, fancy bread,... A serving utensil would be helpful. We will provide hamburgers, drinks, potato chips, ketchup, mustard, coffee, paper goods and plastic cutlery.
Club members, their families and friends are invited. There will be astronomy activities for kids of all ages. Planned activities are a tour of the clubhouse facilities, a demonstration of mirror grinding, and the ever popular walk “up the hill”, stopping along the way to talk about the MIT Haystack Observatory facility.
Share your astronomy stories and experiences. Bring any astrophotography you would like to show. There will be daytime H-alpha and white light solar viewing and night sky observing after sunset (all, weather permitting). The picnic is on rain or shine. Bring lawn chairs or blankets to sit on. Bring your favorite suntan lotion and mosquito repellent. Observing will continue until Midnight if the sky is clear, so bring your telescope and your observing clothing and gear. The club's scopes will be open too.
Directions to the clubhouse can be found on the last page of Star Fields and at the club website www.atmob.org.
Questions - Email Eileen Myers at firstname.lastname@example.org
Don't miss the fun!
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.
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 August 2015
Phases of the Moon:
Last Quarter Moon
10:03 PM EDT
10:53 AM EDT
3:31 PM EDT
2:53 PM EDT
The Moon & Planets:
In Evening (after sunset):
In Evening (after sunset):
Venus, in W
Venus, in W
Jupiter, in W
Jupiter, in W
Mercury, in W
Mercury, in W
Neptune, in E
Saturn, in SW
Saturn, in SW
Neptune, in SE
Neptune, in SE
Uranus, in E
Uranus, in E
In Morning (before sunrise):
In Morning (before sunrise):
Neptune, in SW
Uranus, in S
Mars, in E
Venus, in E
There are no comets visible brighter than magnitude
The Perseid meteor shower peaks on the night of August 12/13. Conditions are ideal. (See "A Good Year for The Perseids" below.)
Starting around August 11, you can look for the “heliacal rising” of Sirius. That is when seasonal changes first bring the star into visibility shortly before sunrise.
The ancient Egyptians, among others, based their calendar on the heliacal rising of Sirius; the first appearance of the star presaged the flooding of their fields
by the Nile. Depicted above is the scene 25 minutes before sunrise on the 11th. The 26.5-day-old thin crescent Moon is visible, as is the red spark that is Mars.
The fainter stars have already disappeared as dawn approaches, and Procyon and the brighter stars of Orion and Gemini are rapidly fading.
(August 11, 2015, 5:22 AM.)
|August 1, 2015, 8:24 PM EDT||August 31, 2015, 6:28 AM EDT|
This year, the Perseid meteors are due to peak on the night of August 12 - 13. Conditions are almost ideal for viewing the meteors, with the maximum occurring just a day before New Moon. In unfavorable years, moonlight can drown out the fainter meteors, leaving visible only the small fraction bright enough to overcome the mooonlit sky background. This year, that will not be a problem, and the shower should be visible in its full glory. Under such conditions, you may be able to see up to 100 meteors per hour.
This shower, like all annual meteor showers, is composed of small particles of interplanetary debris; typically, the particles are no larger than grains of sand. When these particles enter the Earth’s atmosphere at velocities as high as 35 - 40 miles per second (126,000 – 144,000 miles per hour!), they burn up almost instantaneously from friction with air molecules. (The “sensible” part of Earth’s atmosphere is about 100 miles deep, so it is possible that the meteors could make it through in just 2-3 seconds.) Though it may seem as though the meteors are falling over the neighbor’s house or the building up the street, this is an illusion; most of the trails left by these meteors actually occur altitudes of 50 - 75 miles up.
It’s also not completely accurate to imply that the particles are approaching and falling upon a stationary Earth. Actually meteoroids (we call them meteoroids when they are still in space, meteors when we see them burning up in the atmosphere, and meteorites on the infrequent occasions they make it to the ground) exist in the form of streams of debris between the planets. These streams are left over from previous passages of comets through the vicinity - in the case of the Perseids, the passage of the comet 109P/Swift-Tuttle. Every year at this time, the Earth plows through this debris stream like a car encountering a swarm of flies at high speed. Because the post-midnight side of the Earth will be hitting the debris directly and at maximum speed, the best time to view the meteors is generally between midnight and dawn.
If you imagine tracing the trail of a meteor back, it will appear to have come from the radiant, which - for this shower - lies in the constellation, Perseus.
(Please note: it is extremely unlikely that you will see more than one meteor at a time!)
The meteors are named after their “radiant” or apparent place in the sky from which they seem to originate if you trace their paths backwards; in this case, the radiant lies in the constellation Perseus. Though the meteors appear to radiate from Perseus, by the time they appear they can be in almost any part of the sky, The radiant rises in the northeast about 10 PM local time, and gets highest as dawn approaches.
The Perseid meteors are known to leave long and persistent trails.
A Schedule of Events: August / September 2015
|Aug. 2||Sun.||6:03 AM EDT||Moon @ perigee (362,139 km / 225,023 mi)|
|Aug. 2||Sun.||10:00 AM EDT||Moon 3° NNW of Neptune|
|Aug. 5||Wed.||5:00 AM EDT||Moon 0.96° SSE of Uranus|
|Aug. 5||Wed.||5:00 AM EDT||Mercury 8° N of Venus|
|Aug. 6||Thu.||10:03 PM EDT||Last Quarter Moon|
|Aug. 7||Fri.||2:00 AM EDT||Mercury 0.6° N of Jupiter|
|Aug. 10||Mon.||10:00 PM EDT||Sun enters Leo|
|Aug. 12||Wed.||10:03 PM EDT||Comet 67P (Churyumov-Gerasimenko) @ perihelion (1.24 AU)|
|Aug. 12||Wed.||11:00 PM EDT||Moon 6° S of Mars|
|Aug. 13||Thu.||4:00 AM EDT||Perseid meteors peak (~ 100 meteors / hr)|
|Aug. 14||Fri.||10:53 AM EDT||New Moon|
|Aug. 15||Fri.||6:00 AM EDT||Moon 4° SSW of Jupiter|
|Aug. 15||Sat.||3:00 PM EDT||Venus @ inferior conjunction (moves into morning sky)|
|Aug. 16||Sun.||11:00 AM EDT||Moon 2° S of Mercury|
|Aug. 17||Mon.||10:33 PM EDT||Moon @ apogee (405,848 km / 252,182 mi)|
|Aug. 21||Fri.||8:00 PM EDT||Saturn @ eastern quadrature|
|Aug. 22||Sat.||1:00 PM EDT||Moon 3° N of Saturn|
|Aug. 22||Sat.||3:31 PM EDT||First Quarter Moon|
|Aug. 26||Wed.||6:00 PM EDT||Jupiter @ solar conjunction (moves into morning sky)|
|Aug. 29||Sat.||1:00 AM EDT||Venus 9° S of Mars|
|Aug. 29||Sat.||2:35 PM EDT||Full Moon ("Sturgeon Moon")|
|Aug. 29||Sat.||7:00 PM EDT||Moon 3° NNW of Neptune|
|Aug. 30||Sun.||11:21 AM EDT||Moon @ perigee (358,290 km / 222,631 mi)|
|Sept. 1||Tue.||12:00 AM EDT||Neptune @ opposition|
|Sept. 1||Tue.||12:00 PM EDT||Moon 1.1° S of Uranus|
|Sept. 2||Wed.||2:00 PM EDT||Venus 9° SSW of Mars|
|Sept. 4||Fri.||6:00 AM EDT||Mercury @ greatest elongation: 27° east of Sun (evening "star")|
|Sept. 4/5||Fri./Sat.||11:58 PM EDT - 12:43 AM EDT||Moon occults Aldebaran|
|Sept. 5||Sat.||5:54 AM EDT||Last Quarter Moon|
|Sept. 9||Wed.||Sun's north pole most inclined (7.25°) toward Earth|
|Sept. 10||Thu.||2:00 AM EDT||Moon 3° N of Venus|
|Sept. 10||Thu.||7:00 PM EDT||Moon 5° S of Mars|
|Sept. 12||Sat.||12:00 AM EDT||Moon 3° N of Jupiter|
|Sept. 13||Sun.||2:41 AM EDT||New Moon|
|Sept. 13||Sun.||2:41 AM EDT||Partial Solar Eclipse (S. Africa)|
|Sept. 14||Mon.||John Dobson's 100th Birthday (1915)|
|Sept. 14||Mon.||7:27 AM EDT||Moon @ apogee (406,464 km / 252,565 mi) (Most distant of year.)|
|Sept. 15||Tue.||2:00 AM EDT||Moon 5° N of Mercury|
|Sept. 17||Thur.||3:00 AM EDT||Sun enters Virgo|
|Sept. 18||Fri.||11:00 AM EDT||Moon 3° N of Saturn|
|Sept. 19||Sat.||National Astronomy Day (Fall)|
|Sept. 19||Sat.||International Observe the Moon Night|
|Sept. 20||Sun.||5:00 PM EDT||Venus @ greatest brilliancy (mag. -4.76)|
|Sept. 21||Mon.||4:59 AM EDT||First Quarter Moon|
|Sept. 21||Mon.||11:00 AM EDT||Venus @ greatest illuminated extent|
|Sept. 23||Wed.||4:21 AM EDT||September Equinox|
|Sept. 26||Sat.||6:00 AM EDT||Moon 3° N of Neptune|
|Sept. 27||Sun.||8:12 PM EDT||Penumbral Lunar Eclipse begins|
|Sept. 27||Sun.||9:07 PM EDT||Partial Lunar Eclipse begins|
|Sept. 27||Sun.||9:46 PM EEDT||Moon @ perigee (356,877 km / 221,753 mi) (Nearest of year.)|
|Sept. 27||Sun.||10:11 PM EDT||Lunar Eclipse Totality begins|
|Sept. 27||Sun.||10:47 PM EDT||Maximum Lunar Eclipse|
|Sept. 27||Sun.||10:50 PM EDT||Full Moon ("Harvest Moon")|
|Sept. 27||Sun.||11:23 PM EDT||Lunar Eclipse Totality ends|
|Sept. 28||Mon.||12:27 AM EDT||Partial Lunar Eclipse ends|
|Sept. 28||Mon.||1:22 AM EDT||Penumbral Lunar Eclipse ends|
|Sept. 28||Mon.||9:00 PM EDT||Moon 1.0° S of Uranus|
|Sept. 28||Mon.||11:00 PM EDT||Vesta @ opposition|
|Sept. 30||Wed.||11:00 AM EDT||Mercury @ inferior conjunction|
* bold = cool or important!
A Preview of Remaining 2015 Events
|Oct. 8 - 9||Draconid meteors peak (poor)|
|Oct. 11||Uranus @ opposition|
|Oct. 15||Dawn spacecraaft leaves HAMO Ceres orbit|
|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||Dawn spacecraft enters Low Altitude Mapping Orbit (LAMO) (375 km)|
|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")|
August 2015 Star Chart