Florida Atlantic University Astronomical Observatory
|The Front Page currently covers:
Apr. 22nd 2022 - Cub Scout Pack 323 came for a night of observations. We discussed constellations, celestial motions, the Moon's orbital plane, its phases and eclipses and a bit about the Lyrid Meteor shower that night.
Images of their adventure have been kindly provided by their pack leader, Vincent Mamo.
See more of what they explored at: https://photos.app.goo.gl/1iMZ2WwwN2c5g9wX6
|Pack 323 and I discuss the Moon's orbital plane and its resulting phases and eclipses using a table-top model that I've been working on.|
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:
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.
the Space Telescope Science Institute's
Sky Tonightmovie at Amazing Space
Sky & Telescope's
This Week's Sky at a Glancepage.
What's Up in the Sky!
Section updated: June 15th, 2022
The Sun currently appears in the grassy pastures of Taurus the bull. It will slip into playyard of Gemini the twins on June 21st. It will not only start Summer and appear at its highest position in the sky, but it also "swoops just over the club" of Orion then. In a way, Orion's overhead club, looks to me somewhat like a Jai-alai player with his out-reached wicker chistera. Poor Orion, he always misses this catch! For the Sun will move beyond and then enter into Cancer the crab's tide pool on July 20th, before returning to shore and to Leo the Lion's lair on Aug. 11th.
Link to current images of the Sun in Hα light goes to those provided by the
Section updated: June 15th, 2022.
Note: compare shower dates with Moon for favorable viewing conditions; the fuller the Moon, the harder it will be to see the meteors!
|Peak Night||Name||Radiant's |
|~June 16||June Lyrids||South of |
|?||down to 0?||found in |
seen in 1996?
|~June 27||Bootids||northern |
|comet 7P |
|18 km/s||very SLOW, |
|~July 28th||Piscis |
|?||5||35 km/s||seen best |
in the south
|north of α |
|5||23 km/s||slow, |
|July 28-29th||Delta |
|δ Aquarius||comet 96P |
|16||41 km/s||faint |
|Aug. 12-13th||Perseids||Perseus||comet 109P |
|100||59 km/s||fast, bright|
may be double
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
wee hours of the morning
as then we'll be
in front of the Earth as it plows it way through the debris trail. You'll want a clear and
unobstructed view of the sky as you can find as the meteors will appear to travel across the entire sky. It is this is
reason that an observatory, like FAU's, is a poor choice to go to observe a meteor shower. An even worse place to go would
be a cave! In South Florida, I often advise folks to try the beach, though please be VERY careful during sea turtle season!
Egg nests or little hatchlings can be easily crushed by clumsy feet. Use
only red LED flashlights if you go to the beach to not only avoid stepping on these reptiles, but the color also protects
your night vision (and of course your night time circadian rhythm, too) so that you can see the show. Bring a blanket, use
bug spray, get comfortable and enjoy the view!
Additional details about meteors, showers or to REPORT your own fireball observations should be done via http://amsmeteors.org.
Solar System Planets:
Section updated: June 15th, 2022.
Little Mercury is found in Taurus the bull just east of the Pleiades and west of the Hyades in its direct motion. On July 6th, Mercury will finally exit Taurus and go travel through the playground of the Gemini twins. If you can get up on June 26th, you'll see it, Venus and a very thin cresent Moon all together that morning. Mercury will hide beyond the Sun at its superior conjunction on the 16th of July. After that, it flips back to the western twilight sky.
Venus will soon enter the pasture of Taurus the bull on June 17th. A month later, it will enter into the Twins's playground and then on to the tide pool of Cancer the crab on Aug. 10th. It will slowly get lower and lower as the year progresses as it will be on the far side of the solar system at 1.59 au away and appear closer to the eastern horizon. And get lower still by Aug. 27th, as it enters the realm of Leo the lion and be 1.64e au away. While it may become harder to see depending on how clear your eastern horizon is, it is worth a try.
For as Venus will be on the far side of the Sun, what observers will see of it through a telescope will be a "full phase", like a full Moon, of its surface. It was this type of observation that Galileo made years ago that was the crucial piece of evidence he needed to prove that the Earth was NOT the center of the universe. Because the only way we can clearly see such a phase of Venus is if it was beyond the Sun and not orbiting only some midpoint between the Earth and the Sun, like how Ptolemy had once declared. Galileo pointed out that if Ptolemy was correct, and not Copernicus, then all we could ever see through a telescope would be a crescent phase of Venus, as we would always be looking mostly at its nightside as Ptolemy thought it could only exist between us and the Sun.
Venus will reach superior conjuction with the Sun on Oct. 17th, then be 1.71 au away from us and beyond the Sun as it will later appear on the flip side of the night and begin appearing in the western twilight sky by November.
Planets of the Eastern
morning sky 2022 May 10.
How do you know what you are looking at is a planet? Well a simple check is to see if it twinkles. Stars twinkle, planets don't. Stars higher in the sky twinkle less, however, the closer they are to the horizon, the more twinkle they appear to do. While planets, like Venus, will appear to be a steady light source. As of May 2022, Venus is moving to the far side of the solar system, so through a telescope, expect it to show a waxing gibbous phase (more than half of it appears lit to us and shaped like an oval). Though it is getting further away, its high albedo (much like white paper, it has a high ratio of reflected light to what it receives) is why it appears so brightly.
NASA reported the biggest quake ever recorded on another planet, the planet MARS! It registered 5.0 on the Richter scale and was recorded with its Insight seismometer on May 4th. Which luckily came to it before it will have to shut down the monitoring station due to the amount of dust collecting on its solar panels, depriving it of the necessary light energy needed to run its instruments. Still, the station and its seismometer lasts twice as long as they were engineered to do! So well done there! Jump from here to read more about it on NASA's JPL pages.
If you are looking for Mars, the active old warrior appears in the early morning skies marching eastwards in the constellation of Pisces the fish. On June 22nd, the waning crescent Moon will pass it by. Mars will march on through Aries the ram's pastures on July 9th, and will get passed by the waning crescent Moon again, but mostly in the daylight hourse. Mars will then confront Taurus the bull on Aug. the 10th and try to dash across his pasture! . But by Oct. 31st, Mars will begin traveling westward in his retrograde retreat. As he does so, the planet will appear brighter and brighter until it reaches its opposition to the Sun on Dec. 7th.
Jupiter, the jovial king of the sky appears in the constellation Pisces. On June 25th, Jupiter will enter into the depths of Cetus's realm on and proceed to slow down in that supposed "non-zodiac constellation". (Cetus means "whale". Why a whale is not part of the zoo-diac constellations, I don't get!) For on the July the 28th, will begin his retrograde and return to the fishes on Sept. 1st. This will be particularly interesting retrograde to watch for on Sept. 26th, Jupiter will reach opposition to the Sun. This will NOT be an ordinary opposition, though, because it will occur when Jupiter is near its perihelion. Meaning that Jupiter will be only 3.9525 au away from us that night and so be closer to us than it will be again for the next 12 years!! Views of it through the telescope will be great to see and we will be holding an event for it then. I have been examining the nights around that perfect line up, and am keen to set up our Event to show this on Sept. 24th, the Friday before that night. For on the 26th, Jupiter's moons will be far to its side and be hard to appreciate in the telescope. However, at least on the 24th, Io will pass in front of the giant planet, this will help show its celestial motions AND we'll get to spy its Great Red Spot too then. More details to follow.
Saturn appears in Capricorn, prograding through the sea goat. It will stay with the goat for the rest of the year. On Aug. 15th, it will be at opposition and only 8.8569 au away from us and have an apparent magnitude of 0.28, almost rivaling of what we see of the star Vega.
Uranus is currently in Aries the Ram's meadow, north of what I consider to be the fluke of Cetus. Traditionally, that part was seen as the "sea monster's head" and the southern part, its body. Yet, if you turn around the thinking, the constellation of Cetus actually looks like its name. For "Cetus" is where we get the word "Cetacea", which is the order of marine mammals, such as whales. To me, the northern part is like the fluke, while the southern part is body, head and mouth of the whale, just like a humpback or blue whale. Uranus will be with Aries until near the end of May 2024.
Neptune is in his element straddling between the border of Aqurius and Pisces and will stay around that area for the rest of the year.
Dwarf planet Pluto appears in the northeastern corner of Sagittarius, not near any bright star. Its opposition is July the 17th. Pluto will stay in Sagittarius the archer's range until March 2023.
The image at the right shows locations of:
FAU telescope astronomy space stars planets asteroids comets constellations star clusters nebula nova supernova Milky Way Andromeda Whirlpool galaxies Florida Atlantic University Public Observatory news college sky conditions light pollution Florida Palm Beach County Broward County Miami Dade County