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Astronomy
Welcome to the Boston Astronomy website ...

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 Astronomy-Related Events in the Boston Area   

   

  

  

Saturday, October 4th, 2014, at 7:30 PM.

Astronomy Day

Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, 60 Garden Street, Cambridge

Topic and Presenter: This year we celebrate Astronomy Day by viewing the ice giants Uranus and Neptune. Unlike their larger gas-giant cousins, Jupiter and Saturn, these dazzling worlds of brilliant blue and jade green remain a mystery to us back here on Earth. Join us as we view these elusive worlds. With David Aguilar.

  

 

Thursday, October 9th, 2014, 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: LIGO and Gravitational Waves & Detection

Dr. Peter Fritschel

Gravitational waves are among the most interesting predictions of Einstein's theory of general relativity. These ripples in the curvature of space-time are emitted by various types of astrophysical bodies, particularly compact objects moving at high velocities. Almost a century after Einstein first predicted gravitational waves, we are on the brink of directly detecting them for the first time. Gravitational-wave astrophysics promises to become a radically new way of exploring the universe. Dr. Fritschel will discuss the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO), the world's leading project to build and operate gravitational wave detectors.  He'll describe LIGO's principles of operation, design, current status and plans for observation.

    

 

Sunday, October 11th, 2014, at 7:00 PM.

Messier Piano Concert

St. Paul Lutheran Church, Lanesville (Gloucester), MA..

Pianist and composer Dr. Bruce Lazarus will be coming to St. Paul Lutheran Church in Lanesville for a performance of his Musical Explorations of the Messier  Catalogue of Star Clusters and Nebulae.The concert will be preceded by a talk by Bruce, and accompanied by images of the objects that inspired each piece. Bruce's article on the Messier Suite is available in the Galactic Inquirer and samples of the pieces themselves can be listened to on Bruce's site. Admission will be $5.00 at the door to help offset our costs. There is plenty of free off-street parking at the church. Composer and pianist Bruce Lazarus earned his B.M. and M.M. in music composition at Juilliard, and later his Ph.D in music theory and composition at Rutgers University. Lazarus characterizes his music as "concise, architectural, contemporary, and in turn meditative, humorous, moody, and exuberant." He frequently turns to astronomical imagery for his more descriptive works. Mr. Lazarus resides in New York City.

 

   

Thursday, October 16th, 2014, at 7:30 PM.

Monthly Observatory Night

(Free lecture and observing every 3rd Thursday except June, July, and August – and sometimes December).

Topic and Presenters: Red Dwarf Worlds

Ofer Cohen and Elizabeth Newton

Red dwarfs are the most common stars in the universe. They constitute over 80% of all the stars in the Milky Way. And, they apparently live almost forever. The BIG question is: can they support worlds that harbor life? Join us tonight as we hear two different viewpoints regarding this interesting question.

    

  

Friday, October 17th, 2014, at 7:00 PM.

Boy Scout Star Party

ATMoB Clubhouse, Westford, MA.

Attendees: 15-18 scouts plus 6 adults. This group of scouts will be camping at MIT Millstone for the weekend.  They will make their way down to the clubhouse around sunset.

  

   

Saturday, October 25, 2014, at 7:00 PM.   

Star Party for Military Families

Hanscom Air Force Base, Lexington, MA.

Join us for what has become an annual event.  This is a great group!!! PLEASE BE SURE TO SIGN UP FOR THIS EVENT.  VOLUNTEER NAMES MUST BE GIVEN TO THE GUARD AT THE ENTRANCE GATE THREE DAYS BEFORE THE EVENT. Directions: Take Exit 30B off I-95/Route 128 Hanscom Field Exit, go 1 1/2 mile to the blinking light, take a right, go 1/4 mile straight, bear right to Hanscom AFB, Vandenberg Gate and check in at the Visitor's Center. IMPORTANT NOTE:  Drivers must have valid drivers license & current car registration.  Please do not forget to LICENSE AND REGISTRATION..as this is necessary to get on base. Contact person- Virginia Renehan write vmrenehan@verizon.net with q's

  

  

Friday, October 24, 2014 - Sunday, October 26, 2014.

Mountains of Stars: Amateur Astronomers Weekend In the White Mountains 

Observe the stars from the dark skies of northern New Hampshire, and stay at the beautiful Highland Center Lodge, centrally located in the White Mountains. Two nights of dark sky observing during New Moon, astronomy presentations, and short talks. Saturday night will be on the intricate and fascinating connections between life on Earth and the history and phenomena of the Universe around us. Learn about the amazing sequence of events that led to the formation of the solar system and the Earth, and how we have come to understand what we are and why we are here. Following the presentation, weather permitting, there will be observing through telescopes throughout the night. Hiking and outdoor activities in the area are outstanding, and the area is wonderful for families. Bring your own telescopes and observing gear - a few facility telescopes will also be available for use. Activities include guided hikes to Elephant Head or Mt. Willard, and building a model solar system or Galileoscopes. Register now, or contact:

AMC Reservations
603-466-2727 (best time to call: 9am - 5pm, Monday - Saturday)
amclodging@outdoors.org

  

  

Tuesday, October 28, 2014, at 7:30 PM.

11th Annual Pollard Elementary School Star Party

Location: Behind Timberlane Regional High School at new observatory
36 Greenough Rd, Plaistow NH
Directions: From Rt 495 near Haverhill, take Exit 51B, Rt 125N towards Plaistow. Go ~ 4 miles on Rt 125, turn LEFT onto Danville Rd at Cumberland Farms. Take 1st LEFT onto Greenough Rd. Take left immediately after track on your left onto school property. Continue loop to back of school. Star Party is at maroon roll-off-roof observatory adjacent to ball field. For a map contact Pete Bealo. Parking is along edge of driveway in front of observatory. This is our first time using this site. It is the school's new observatory, partly ATMoB funded, and built by Nick Bealo, son of ATMoB member, Pete Bealo. Attendees: Elementary school kids with parents from 1st to 5th grades: We typically get 300 - 350 attendees. I also expect a few (15 - 20) 8th grade students. Need 10 volunteers with telescopes or mounted binoculars, 1 volunteer with laser pointer to point out constellations and 1 (indoor) presenter. Power is available. We will also have indoor presentation(s), hayrides, possibly a bonfire and PTA with goodies indoors. Music: there is typically a string quartet. gnosh afterwards at Pizza UNOs. Contact Peter Bealo @ 978-204-9848 or pbealo@comcast.net for more info and directions if you get lost.

   

   

   

Plus:

  

Wednesdays:

Boston University

Boston, MA.
Open Night at Coit Observatory most Wednesdays 8:30 PM - 9:30 PM. 
http://www.bu.edu/astronomy/events/public-open-night-at-the-observatory/

 

  

Fridays:

Guililland Observatory

Museum of Science

Boston, MA

"Astronomy After Hours" Friday nights 8:30 PM - 10:00 PM.

http://www.mos.org/public-events/astronomy-after-hours

 


 

The Sky Report for the Month of October 2014

 

 

 

Current Night Sky: At A Glance

 

Phases of the Moon:

First Quarter

October 1

3:33 PM EDT

Full Moon

October 8

6:51 AM EDT

Last Quarter Moon

October 15

3:12 PM EDT

New Moon

October 23

5:57 PM EDT

First Quarter October 30  10:48 PM EDT

 

 

 

The Moon & Planets:

  

  

The Moon & Planets:

    

         

On the morning of the 18th, the waning crescent Moon passes 7° to the lower right of Jupiter, and the two form a nice triangle with the star Regulus.

(Shown at 2:40 AM EDT).

   

   

  

  In the evening sky on the 25th, a waxing crescent passes about 3° to the upper left of Saturn.

 (Shown at 6:30 PM EDT).

 

   

    

On the evening of the 28th, a crescent Moon passes 8° above Mars.

(Shown at 8:00  PM EDT).

  

  

    

Evening Planets (after sunset):

  • Mercury, in W
  • Saturn, in SW
  • Mars, in SW
  • Neptune, in S
  • Uranus, in SE

     

Morning Planets (before sunrise):

  • Uranus, in W
  • Jupiter, in SE

Comets:

 

  •            There are no comets visible brighter than magnitude 8; however, Comet C/2013 A1 Siding Spring passes just 82,000 miles from Mars on the 19th. (The closest recorded approach of any comet to Earth is 1.4 million miles!) Comet Siding Spring may be visible from Earth at 9th magnitude.

  

Meteors:

  

           The Orionid meteor shower peaks on the 21st, and may reach a peak rate of 20 meteors per hour. Conditions should be favorable, as the waning crescent Moon will not interfere.

   

   


  •   

A Schedule of Events

 

  • Oct. 6 Mon. 5:40 AM EDT   Moon @ perigee (56.83 Earth-radii)
    Oct. 7 Tue. 5:00 PM EDT Uranus @ opposition
    Oct. 8 Wed. 4:16 AM EDT Lunar Eclipse: Moon enters penumbra
    Oct. 8 Wed. 5:15 AM EDT Lunar Eclipse: Moon completely in penumbra, enters umbra
    Oct. 8 Wed. 6:25 AM EDT Lunar Eclipse: Moon completely in umbra
    Oct. 8 Wed. 6:51 AM EDT Full Moon ("Full Hunters Moon")
    Oct. 8 Wed. 6:54 PM EDT Moonset in Boston - rest of Lunar Eclipse not visible
    Oct. 8 Wed. 6:56 AM EDT Lunar  Eclipse: Greatest Eclipse
    Oct. 8  Wed.  7:00 AM EDT  Moon 1.1° NNW of Uranus
    Oct. 8 Wed. 7:24 AM EDT Lunar Eclipse: Moon begins to leave umbra, enters penumbra
    Oct. 8 Wed. 8:34 AM EDT Lunar Eclipse: Moon completely in penumbra
    Oct. 8 Wed. 9:34 AM EDT Lunar Eclipse: Moon leaves penumbra
    Oct. 15 Wed. 3:12 PM EDT Last Quarter Moon
    Oct. 16  Thur.  5:00 PM EDT  Mercury @ inferior conjunction 
    Oct. 17  Fri.  9:00 PM EDT  Moon 5.2° SSW of Jupiter 
    Oct. 18 Sat. 2:00 AM EDT Moon @ apogee (63.48 Earth-radii)
    Oct. 19 Sun. 2:28 PM EDT Comet C/2013 A1 (Siding Spring) within 82,000 miles of Mars
    Oct. 21 Tue.   Orionid meteors
    Oct. 21  Tue.  9:00 PM EDT  Venus @ maximum brilliance (magnitude -3.9) 
    Oct. 23 Thur. 3:38 PM EDT Partial Solar Eclipse: penumbra starts in Siberia
    Oct. 23 Thur. 5:46 PM EDT Partial Solar Eclipse: greatest eclipse
    Oct. 23 Thur. 5:57 PM EDT New Moon
    Oct. 23 Thur. 7:52 PM EDT Partial Solar Eclipse: penumbra ends in Caribbean
    Oct. 25  Sat.  3:00 AM EDT  Venus @ superior conjunction 
    Oct. 25  Sat.  12:00 PM  Moon 1.4° NE of Saturn 
    Oct. 25 Sat. 6:45 PM EDT Brightest evening pass of ISS this month (-3.4)
    Oct. 28  Tue.  8:00  AM EDT  Moon 6.5° N of Mars 
    Oct. 30 Thur. 10:48 PM EDT First Quarter Moon
    Nov. 1 Sat. 9:00 AM EDT Mercury @ greatest elongation (19° W of Sun)
    Nov. 1 Sat. 8:00 PM EST Moon 4° NNW of Neptune
    Nov. 2 Sun. 2:00 AM EDT Switch from EDT to EST
    Nov. 2 Sun. 7:29 PM EST Moon @ perigee (57.68 Earth-radii)
    Nov. 4 Tue. 1:00 PM EST Moon 1.7° NNE of Uranus
    Nov. 6 Thur. 5:23 PM EST Full Moon ("Full Beaver Moon")
    Nov. 11 Tue. 5:27 AM EST One of 2 brightest passes of ISS this month (-3.4)
    Nov. 14 Fri. 10:16 AM EST Last Quarter Moon
    Nov. 14 Fri. 1:00 PM EST Moon 5° S of Jupiter
    Nov. 14 Fri. 8:59 PM EST Moon @ apogee (63.39 Earth-radii)
    Nov. 17 Mon. 5:00 PM  EST Leonid meteor shower peaks
    Nov. 18 Tue. 4:00 AM EST Saturn @ solar conjunction
    Nov. 22 Sat. 7:32 AM EST New Moon
    Nov. 23   6:00 AM EST Sun enters Scorpius
    Nov. 26 Wed. 5:00 AM EST Moon 7° N of Mars
    Nov. 27 Thur. 4:59 AM EST One of 2 brightest passes of ISS this month (-3.4)
    Nov. 27 Thur. 6:12 PM EST Moon @ perigee (57.99 Earth-radii)
    Nov. 29 Sat. 12:00 AM EST Moon 4° NNW of Neptune
    Nov. 29 Sat. 5:06 AM EST First Quarter Moon
    Nov. 30 Sun. 2:00 AM EST Sun enters Ophiuchus
  •   

  • Bold Type = Important or Way Cool

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  • * = approximate                          

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What’s better than an eclipse? Two eclipses!

  

There is a total lunar eclipse on October 8, at least parts of which will be visible throughout the United States. From Boston, we will not see the entire eclipse – merely its beginning and central phase – before the Moon sets below the horizon. In fact, the eclipse takes place in the west just as the Sun is rising in the east. (This makes sense, since, during a lunar eclipse, the Sun and the Moon have to be in opposite parts of the sky.) The sequence of events on the morning of October 8 is as follows:


Event

Time

 

Moon enters penumbra

4:16 AM EDT

 

Moon completely in penumbra, enters umbra

5:14 AM EDT

 

Moon completely in umbra

6:25 AM EDT

 

Moonset

6:53 AM EDT

 

Greatest eclipse

6:56 AM EDT

 


  

The penumbra is the cone cast by Earth’s shadow into space that partially, but not completely, blocks the Sun’s light. The Moon’s entry into the penumbra can be subtle and difficult to see in its beginning stages. That will be especially true during this eclipse, in which the phenomenon takes place in daylight. The umbra, on the other hand, is the area cast by Earth’s shadow cone that completely blocks the Sun, and the Moon’s entry into it should be more obvious. By the time the Moon is completely in the umbra, you should be able to detect its uncharacteristic copper or black color. For Boston, the moon sets before maximum eclipse, but we should experience a good half hour of seeing the Moon in the eerie glow of the umbra. (Make sure you have a clear western horizon to view the Moon as it is setting!)

 

Also, as you can see from the map below, the planet Uranus is not far from the eclipsed Moon. This is an amazing coincidence; usually Uranus, at magnitude 5.7, is too faint to be seen near a full Moon, but with the Moon dimmed during the eclipse, it should be fairly easy to spot the planet with binoculars or  a telescope.

 

 

 

The large circle denotes the penumbra, and the small circle is the dark shadow that is the umbra. 

 

There will also be a partial solar eclipse on October 23rd, most of which will be visible in portions of North America. A partial eclipse occurs when the Moon covers up part of the Sun – not the whole Sun as in the case of a total solar eclipse. Unfortunately, this eclipse will not be visible from Boston.

 

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October Star Chart

      

Star Chart

October 15, 2014

      9:00 PM EDT

Looking at Zenith, South at Bottom

    

There are no naked-eye planets visible in the evening; Uranus and Neptune require binoculars or – better yet, a telescope. Unless you have a “Go-To” scope, you will probably need star charts to find them. (A good location providing such charts is on Sky&Telescope’s website at:

 http://www.skyandtelescope.com/astronomy-news/observing-news/uranus-and-neptune-in-2014.

Arcturus is sinking low in the west, but the Summer Triangle – Vega, Altair, and Deneb – is still high overhead. The brilliant stars of winter have not yet made their appearance in the early evening skies. The Milky Way is difficult to see from light-polluted urban skies, but still stretches from SSW to the NE across the heavens.

  

           


* Text, graphics, and animations by John Sheff. Graphics courtesy of Starry Night Pro Plus 7 / Imaginova Corp. Starry Night images are used with permission from Imaginova Corp.