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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.





 October / November Astronomy-Related Events in the Boston Area  



Thursday, October 6, 2016 - 7:30 PM

CfA Sci-Fi TV Night (movie viewing and discussion; no telescope observing)

Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics

60 Garden Street

Cambridge, MA 02138


Topic: Sci-Fi TV Night: 50 Years of Star Trek

 In 1966, a new science-fiction series called Star Trek premiered. Since westerns were all the rage, creator Gene Roddenberry had pitched it to the network as a "Wagon Train to the Stars." But Star Trek was more than a space western. It presented a uniquely positive and inclusive vision of the future. Fifty years later, Star Trek continues to inspire. We will celebrate its golden anniversary by screening two classic episodes from the original series: "The Corbomite Maneuver" and "The Trouble with Tribbles." Join us as we boldly go where no man - or woman - has gone before! (No reservations required)



Thursday, October 13, 2016, 8:00 PM

Amateur Telescope Makers of Boston (ATMoB) Monthly Meeting
60 Garden Street

Cambridge, MA

Topic and Speaker: The Real Martian: Earth Explores the Red Planet, Jim Zebrowski

One of last summer’s biggest blockbuster movies was “The Martian,” starring Matt Damon. How accurate was the movie, and what will we need to do when we put the first “Martian” on the Red Planet’s surface? In his talk “The Real Martian: Earth Explores the Red Planet,” Our October speaker, Jim Zebrowski, will discus the reality of getting to Mars and surviving there.
Jim Zebrowski traces his interest in astronomy to a time when he was 7 years old and his father pointed out the planet Venus. Besides being a member of ATMoB and Arunah Hill Natural Science Center, Jim is president of the Aldrich Astronomical Society, a club that has been active since 1932. Born in Syracuse, New York, he attended the Christian Brothers Academy there. He earned a B.S. in physics from the State University of New York at Potsdam and an M.S. in applied management from Leslie University. Since 2002, Jim has been a member of NASA’s Solar System Ambassador’s Program. He is currently active in the Aldrich Society’s library telescope program and is helping the club build a new roll-off observatory at their site in Oakham, Massachusetts. 



Thursday, October 20, 2016

CfA Observatory Night (public talk + telescope observing - weather permitting)

Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics

60 Garden Street

Cambridge, MA 02138


Topic and Speaker: "America's Coast-to-Coast Total Solar Eclipse", Kelly Beatty (Sky & Telescope)

On August 21, 2017, the Moon's shadow will cross the continental U.S. for the first time since 1979 - and the first time it's traveled coast-to-coast since 1918. This total solar eclipse, whose path goes through 13 states, promises to be among the most widely observed in history. It's already the most widely anticipated, as many hotels within the path of totality sold out two years in advance. This presentation will provide an overview of the nature of solar eclipses, important past ones in U.S. history, and helpful advice for seeing next year's event successfully. Additional tickets will become available at 10:00 a.m. EDT on Thursday, Oct. 13th.


To register, go to:



Thursday, November 10, 2016, 8:00 PM

Amateur Telescope Makers of Boston (ATMoB) Monthly Meeting
60 Garden Street

Cambridge, MA 02138

Topic and Speaker: TBA



Thursday, November 17, 2016

CfA Observatory Night (public talk + telescope observing - weather permitting)

Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics

60 Garden Street

Cambridge, MA 02138


Topic and Speaker: "The Care and Feeding of Monster Black Holes", Paul Green, (CfA)

OK, black holes are intimidating. Because of their intense gravity, a black hole will absorb anything, and whatever falls in effectively disappears forever, making the black hole grow bigger. Our Milky Way Galaxy hosts millions of black holes between about 3 and 10 times the mass of our Sun, but also one central super-massive black hole of 4 million solar masses. Black holes in the cores of some other galaxies have grown over cosmic time to become more massive than a billion suns. We'll learn some amazing facts about black holes, and also debunk a few common misconceptions. Additional tickets will be made available starting at 10:00 a.m. on


Additional tickets will be made available starting at 10:00 a.m. starting at 10:00 a.m. on Thursday, November 10.

 To register, go to:





Plus (ongoing):  




Boston University

Boston, MA.
Open Night at Coit Observatory most Wednesdays 8:30 PM - 9:30 PM. 




Thursdays (every third Thursday of month):

CfA Observatory Night (public talk + telescope observing - weather permitting)

Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics

60 Garden Street # 60

Cambridge, MA 02138




Fridays (every Friday, 8:30 PM - 10 PM)

Astronomy After Hours

Museum of Science, Boston, MA





The Sky Report for the Month of October 2016


Current Night Sky: At A Glance


            Phases of the Moon:




First Quarter

October  9

12:33 AM EDT

Full Moon

October 16

12:23 AM EDT

Last Quarter Moon

October 22

3:14 PM EDT

New Moon

October 30

1:38 PM EDT




The Moon & Planets:



Planet Visibility:


In Evening (after sunset):

    Venus, in SW 

    Saturn, in SW

    Mars, in S 

    Neptune, in SE 


 At Midnight:

    Mars, in W

    Saturn, in W


 In Morning (before sunrise):

  •     Neptune, in W

  •     Uranus, in W

        Jupiter, in E 

        Mercury, in E  





      •     There are no comets brighter than magnitude 8 visible this month.


      •     The Orionid meteors peak on October 21. Unfortunately, glare from the waning gibbous Moon cuts their expected rate to 7 - 8 meteors per hour.        






    Mercury makes a close approach to Jupiter on October 11. When they rise in the Americas in the early morning sky, they are less than a degree apart.  

    (October 11, 2016, 6:30 AM EDT).





    Last month the planet Neptune was at opposition. This month, it is the turn of its fellow “Ice Giant”, Uranus. Uranus is at opposition on October 15. It rises at sunset, is highest at midnight, and sets at sunrise. It is also at its closest to Earth – a mere 1.8 billion miles distant. Though this planet’s existence was unknown prior to the invention of the telescope, it is – marginally – visible with the naked eye under extremely dark skies, given that one knows exactly where to look. Through a telescope, it presents a bland, greenish-grey disk; all we see is the top of its cloud deck. Even the cameras of Voyager 2, which flew by the planet in 1986, saw only a featureless disk. The image above was taken by Voyager during the first – and only - visit by any spacecraft to the planet; later, intensive image processing managed to tease out a few details in the cloud deck.

    (October 15, 2016, 7:00 AM EDT).     




              The Constellations of Fall    


    The stars are distributed in a haphazard way across the sky, and, naturally, humans – programmed by evolution to look for patterns – have grouped stars into convenient and easily recognized arrangements. In every culture, these patterns have been reinforced by shared stories and myths to imbue them with meaning.


    Of course, star patterns visible change hour by hour and month by month. The stars and constellations visible in the fall have their own stories to tell. An important first step is for us to just learn our way around.

    The sky visible during the early fall evenings still includes a good proportion of summer star patterns, with winter constellations just beginning to appear in the east. (October 20, 2016, 8:00 PM EDT)

    Some of the constellations are left-overs from summer. Among the few first magnitude stars visible are those forming the Summer Triangle: Vega in Lyra, Altair in Aquila, and Deneb in Cygnus. But a trustworthy guidepost symbolic of fall is Pegasus. The well-known “Square” of Pegasus is made up of second-magnitude stars and is harder to see from light-polluted urban skies, but it is a pattern that becomes easily recognizable with practice. It is composed of Alpheratz in the northeast corner of the square, Scheat in the northwest, Markab in the southwest, and Algenib in the southeast. (These are celestial directions, with east being in the direction of our local eastern horizon, and west being in the direction of our western horizon.) These four stars provide a handy reference to the autumn constellations.


    An imaginary line drawn from Alpheratz to Scheat points toward Aquila, while a diagonal line through the Square, from Algenib through Scheat, leads through the heart of Cygnus, passes near Lyra, and points to the dim stars of Hercules beyond.


    A line drawn northward from Markab to Scheat leads through Cepheus, passes near Polaris – the “North Star” – and leads to the Big Dipper in Ursa Major. Going northward from Algenib through Alpheratz leads us to Cassiopeia, and, again, Polaris beyond.


    Moving diagonally downward from Alpheratz though Markab leads towards the faint constellation of Capricornus. A line from Scheat through Markab takes us through Aquarius and towards Fomalhaut in Pisces Australis – an isolated first-magnitude star in an otherwise desolate region of the fall sky.


    Moving from Markab through Alpheratz takes us through Andromeda, Perseus, and ends at bright Capella in Auriga.


    Finally, a line across the top of the Square, from Scheat through Alpheratz, passes between Triangulum and Aries, and continues on to Aldebaran in Taurus, with its wintry retinue of Hyades and Pleiades.


    To the people of most cultures, living in the open under dark skies, the features of the night sky were as familiar as their local landscape. To learn our way around the stars and constellations is to reclaim a long-lost heritage.    


    A Schedule of Events - October / November 2016
    Oct. 3 Mon. 1:00 PM EDT Moon 5° N of Venus
    Oct. 4 Tue. 7:03 AM EDT Moon @ apogee (406,095 km / 252,336 mi)
    Oct. 6 Thur. 4:00 AM EDT Moon 4° N of Saturn
    Oct. 8 Sat. All Day Fall Astronomy Day
    Oct. 8 Sat. 8:00 AM EDT Moon 7° N of Mars
    Oct. 9 Sun. 12:33 AM EDT First Quarter Moon
    Oct. 11 Tue. 6:00 AM EDT Mercury 0.9° N of Jupiter (magnitudes -1.1 and -1.7, 12° from Sun in morning)
    Oct. 13 Thur. 2:00 AM EDT Moon 1.2° N of Neptune
    Oct. 14 Fri. 3:45 PM EDT Uranus @ closest approach (18.951 AU / 2.835 billion km / 1.762 billion mi)
    Oct. 15 Sat. 6:34 AM EDT Uranus @ opposition
    Oct. 15 Sat. 10:00 PM EDT Moon 3° S of Uranus
    Oct. 16 Sun. 10:42 AM EDT ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter and Schiaparelli separate
    Oct. 16 Sun. 12:23 AM EDT Full Moon ("Full Hunter's Moon)
    Oct. 16 Sun. 12:33 AM EDT Supermoon 1 of 3
    Oct. 16 Sun. 7:34 PM EDT Moon @ perigee (357,860 km / 222,364 mi)
    Oct. 17 Mon. 4:59 PM EDT - 6:11 PM EDT Double shadow transit (Ganymede, Europa)
    Oct. 19 Wed. 9:14 AM - 11:41 AM EDT ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter Mars orbit insertion burn
    Oct. 19 Wed. 10:52 AM EDT ExoMars Schiaparelli Mars atmospheric entry begins
    Oct. 19 Wed. 10:57 AM EDT ExoMars Schiaparelli landing
    Oct. 19 Wed. 1:50 PM - 2:54 PM Moon occults Aldebaran
    Oct. 20 Thur.   Juno reaches Perijove 2 (no orbit change)
    Oct. 21 Fri. 1:00 AM EDT Dwarf planet 1 Ceres @ opposition
    Oct. 21 Fri. 10:00 PM Orionid meteors peak
    Oct. 22 Sat. 3:14 PM EDT Last Quarter Moon
    Oct. 24 Mon. 7:35 PM EDT Double shadow transit of Jupiter (Ganymede, Europa)
    Oct. 25 Tue. 12:00 AM EDT Venus 3° N of Antares
    Oct. 27 Thur. 12:16 PM EDT Mercury @ superior conjunction
    Oct. 28 Fri. 6:00 AM EDT Moon 1.4° N of Jupiter
    Oct. 29 Sat. 9:00 AM EDT Mars @ perihelion (1.38 AU / 207 million km / 128.4 million mi from Sun)
    Oct. 30 Sun. 4:00 AM EDT Venus 3° S of Saturn
    Oct. 30 Sun. 1:39 PM EDT New Moon
    Oct. 30 Sun. 1:39 PM EDT "Black Moon" (second New Moon in a calendar month)
    Oct. 30 Sun. 2:00 PM EDT Sun enters Libra
    Oct. 31 Mon. 5:00 AM EDT Venus @ aphelion (0.7282 AU from Sun)
    Oct. 31 Mon. 3:29 PM EDT Moon @ apogee (406,662 km / 252,688 mi) (most distant of the year)
    Nov. 1 Tue.   Sierra Nevada Dreamchaser OFT-1 unmanned orbital launch on Atlas V
    Nov. 2 Wed. 3:00 PM EDT Moon 4° N of Saturn
    Nov. 3 Thur. 12:00 AM EDT Moon 7° N of Venus
    Nov. 6 Sun. 2:00 AM EDT -> 1:00 AM EST Daylight Saving Time Ends; Standard Time begins
    Nov. 6 Sun. 7:00 AM EST Moon 5° N of Mars
    Nov. 7 Mon. 2:51 PM EST First Quarter Moon
    Nov. 7 Mon. 6:42 PM EST Samhain (4th Cross-quarter Day)
    Nov. 9 Wed. 10:00 AM EST Moon 1° N of Neptune
    Nov. 12 Sat. 12:00 AM EST Northern Taurid meteors peak
    Nov. 12 Sat. 6:00 AM EST Moon 3° N of Uranus
    Nov. 14 Mon. 6:21 AM EST Moon @ perigee (356,508 km / 221,524 mi) - closest between 1990 and 2020
    Nov. 14 Mon. 8:52 AM EST Full Moon ("Full Beaver Moon")
    Nov. 15 Tue. 12:00 PM EST Moon 0.4° N of Aldebaran
    Nov. 17 Thur. 6:00 AM EST Leonid meteor shower peaks
    Nov. 18 Fri. 4:00 PM EST Mercury 3° N of Antares
    Nov. 21 Mon. 3:33 AM EST Last Quarter Moon
    Nov. 22 Tue. 7:00 PM EST Sun enters Scorpius
    Nov. 23 Wed. 11:00 AM EST Mercury 3° S of Saturn
    Nov. 24 Thurs. 9:00 PM EST Moon 1.9° N of Jupiter
    Nov. 27 Sun. 3:08 PM EST Moon @ apogee (406,554 km / 252,621 mi)
    Nov. 28 Mon. 3:00 AM EST Winter solstice in N. Hemisphere of Mars
    Nov. 29 Tue. 7:18 AM EST New Moon
    Nov. 29 Tue. 2:00 PM EST Sun enters Ophiuchus
    Nov. 30 Wed. 11:00 PM EST Moon 7° N of Mercury
    Nov. 30 Wed. 3:00 AM EST Moon 4° N of Saturn


       (bold = cool or important)




    An Overview of Major 2016 Astronomical Events

    Jan. 2 Sat. 6:00 PM EST Earth @ perihelion (0.98330 AU)
    Jan. 3 Sun. 7:13 AM EST Latest sunrise
    Jan. 4 Mon. 3:00 AM EST Quadrantid meteors
    Jan. 19 Tue. 9:35 PM EST - 10:49 PM Moon occults Aldebaran
    Feb. 6 Sat. 0:00 (midnight) EST Mercury @ greatest western elongation (26° W); Morning "Star"
    Mar. 8 Tue. 5:00 AM EST Jupiter @ opposition
    Mar. 8 Tue. 7:17 PM EST - 10:38 PM EST Total Solar Eclipse (Pacific, SE Asia)
    Mar. 13 Sun. 2:00 AM EST Daylight Saving Time begins
    Mar. 14 Mon.   ESA ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter / Schiaparelli EDL launch
    Mar. 19 Sat. 00:30 AM EST March Equinox
    Mar. 23 Wed. 5:37 AM EDT - 9:57 AM EDT Penumbral Lunar Eclipse
    Apr. 10 Sun. 6:52 PM EDT - 7:56 PM EDT Moon occults Aldebaran (daytime, late afternoon)
    Apr. 18 Mon. 8:00 AM EDT Mercury @ greatest eastern elongation (20° W); Evening "Star"
    May 5 Thur. 4:00 PM EDT Eta Aquariid meteor shower peaks
    May 9 Mon. 7:12 AM EDT - 2:42 PM EDT Transit of Mercury
    May 22 Sun. 7:00 AM EDT Mars @ opposition
    May 30 Mon. 4:00 PM EDT Mars @ closest approach
    June 3 Fri. 2:00 AM EDT Saturn @ opposition
    June 4 Sat. 3:41 PM EDT - 4:47 PM EDT Moon occults Aldebaran (daytime, close to Sun)
    June 5 Sun. 5:00 AM  EDT Mercury @ greatest western elongation (24° W); Morning "Star"
    June 6 Mon. 6:00 PM EDT Venus @ superior conjunction
    June 20 Mon. 6:00 PM EDT June Solstice
    June 26 Sun. 8:25 PM EDT Latest sunset
    July 4 Mon. 12:00 PM EDT Earth @ aphelion (1.01675 AU)
    July 4 Mon. 10:30 PM EDT (ERT) Juno Jupiter orbit insertion
    July 7 Thur. 12:00 PM EDT Pluto @ opposition
    July 23 Sat. 12:07 AM EDT - 1:01 AM EDT Moon occults Neptune
    July 29 Fri. 6:21 AM EDT - 7:03 AM EDT Moon occults Aldebaran (daytime)
    Aug. 12 Fri. 11:30 AM EDT Perseid meteors peak (ZHR 150), favoring central Pacific
    Aug. 16 Tue. 2:00 PM EDT Mercury @ greatest eastern elongation (27° W); Evening "Star"
    Aug. 27 Sat. 6:00 PM EDT Venus passes 4' from Jupiter (closest naked-eye planet conjunction)
    Sept. 1 Thur. 5:00 AM EDT Annular Solar Eclipse (Sothern Africa, Indian Ocean)
    Sept. 2 Fri. 1:00 PM EDT Neptune @ opposition
    Sept. 8 Thur. 3:00 PM EDT OSIRIS-Rex sample-return mission to asteroid Bennu launched
    Sept. 22 Thur. 10:21 AM EDT September Equinox
    Sept. 28 Wed. 3:00 PM EDT Mercury @ greatest western elongation (18° W); Morning "Star"
    Sept. 30 Fri.   Rosetta mission slow-motion crash landing on Comet 67P.
    Oct. 15 Sat. 7:00 AM EDT Uranus @ opposition
    Oct. 16 Sun.   ExoMars TGO/Schiaparelli separation
    Oct. 19 Wed.   ExoMars TGO Mars orbit insertion
    Oct. 19 Wed.   ExoMars Schiaparelli Mars landing
    Oct. 19 Wed. 1:50 AM EDT - 2:54 PM EDT Moon occults Aldebaran
    Oct. 20 Thur. 9:00 PM EDT Ceres @ opposition
    Nov. 6 Sun. 2:00 AM EDT Daylight Saving Time ends
    Nov. 17 Thur. 6:00 AM EST Leonid meteroids
    Dec. 6 Tue. 11:18 PM EST - 12:32 AM EST Moon occults Neptune
    Dec. 10 Sat. 11:00 PM EST Mercury @ greatest eastern elongation (21° W); Evening "Star"
    Dec. 13 Tue. 7:00 PM EST Geminid meteors
    Dec. 21 Wed. 5:44 AM EST December Solstice
    Dec. 22 Thur. 4:00 AM EST Ursid meteors




    October 20, 2016




        October 20, 2016, 9:00 PM EDT