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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.


















       

            


                         


                          

     The Observatory trip originally scheduled for Tuesday, May 22,

     

is cancelled

     

due to the weather forecast being unfavorable.

     

The trip will be rescheduled for another time

     

The class will instead meet as usual at the Cambridge Center for Adult Education. 

                       


 


    

Next Astronomy Course:

         

Meet the Universe

         

We sit around our campfires as the ancients did, and ponder. How did the Universe come into existence? How did life begin? Are we alone? But now we see a Universe around us containing black holes, dark matter, and expanding space. What does it all mean? In this course we’ll sit around our own campfire, and try to piece together the stories that modern astronomy is teaching us.  

     

One meeting will be at a local observatory.

     

No math or science background required!

    

Meets at the Cambridge Center for Adult Education, 8 Tuesdays: September 25, 2018 - November 13, 2018, 7:45 PM - 9:15 PM.

        

Cost: $ 200.00. REGISTER

                                                        


          

 May Astronomy-Related Events in the Boston Area  

                                                   

            

Thursday, May 10, 2018, 8:00 PM - 10 PM

Amateur Telescope Makers of Boston (ATMoB) Monthly Meeting

Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics

60 Garden St.

Cambridge, MA 02138

http://www.atmob.org

Topic and Speaker: "From Backyard to Mountaintop: The Adventures of History's Best Worst Telescope", Alan Hirsfeld

The 36-inch reflector of English amateur astronomer Andrew Common made its way from a London backyard to a Yorkshire estate and ultimately to a mountaintop observatory in California. This little-known telescope, built in 1879 and still operating today, revolutionized celestial photography and proved to 19th-century astronomers that the future of cosmic discovery lay in the camera, not the human eye.
Alan Hirshfeld, Professor of Physics at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth and an Associate of the Harvard College Observatory, is the author of Parallax: The Race to Measure the Cosmos, The Electric Life of Michael Faraday, Eureka Man: The Life and Legacy of Archimedes, and most recently, Starlight Detectives: How Astronomers, Inventors, and Eccentrics Discovered the Modern Universe. He is a regular science book reviewer for the Wall Street Journal and has written about episodes in the history of science for many magazines. 

  

Thursday, May 17, 2018, 7:30 PM

CfA Public Observatory Night

Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics

60 Garden St.

Cambridge, MA 02138

"Extreme Spacecrafting: NASA's Parker Solar Probe",

Tony Case, Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, Solar Probe Cup Instrument Scientist, and Kelly Korreck, Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, Science Operations Lead for SWEAP Instrument Suite aboard Parker Solar Probe

In July 2018, NASA will launch a satellite 60 years in the making. The hottest mission under the Sun will visit - the Sun! It is an extreme mission - the fastest human-made object that will travel closest to the Sun at the hottest operating temperatures in history. Learn what went into building this satellite with Dr. Kelly Korreck, who will describe the strange Sun behavior that this mission aims to explain, and Dr. Tony Case, who will discuss the bravest instrument on board that peeks around the spacecraft's protective sun shade: the Solar Probe Cup.

           

              

     

Plus (ongoing):        

          

Wednesdays:

Boston University

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

617-353-2630
http://www.bu.edu/astronomy/events/public-open-night-at-the-observatory/  

    

 

Thursdays (every third Thursday of the month, 8:30 - 10:30 PM)

CfA Public Observatory Night

Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics

60 Garden St.

Cambridge, MA 02138

https://www.cfa.harvard.edu/publicevents

    

    

Fridays:

Astronomy After Hours (starting April 13; 8:00 PM - 10:00 PM)

Guilliland Observatory

Museum of Science

Boston, MA

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

Did you know that the Museum offers our starry-eyed public free evenings full of astronomy-themed fun? Join us, weather-permitting*, at the Gilliland Observatory on the roof of the Museum’s parking garage. On clear nights, you can view stars, planets, the Moon, and other astronomical phenomena. On cloudy nights, tour the inside of our Observatory and participate in a variety of hands-on astronomy and space science activities with Museum staff.

In 2018, this seasonal program will run on Friday nights from April 13 – October 26 and Thursday nights from July 5 – August 30. Hours vary as sunset times shift throughout the season.

  • Fridays, April 13 – 27: 8:00-10:00

  • Fridays in May and June: 8:30-10:30

  • Thursdays and Fridays in July and August: 8:30-10:30

  • Fridays in September and October: time TBD

*On rainy nights and nights when there are chances of thunderstorms, we’ll offer a variety of astronomy and space and earth science activities in the Suit/Cabot Laboratory, located in the Red Wing, Lower Level.

For more details, and to find out which location Astronomy After Hours will be running on a scheduled evening, call our hotline at 617-589-0267. We update with the evening’s plans by 5:30 pm on the day of the program.

Please be aware that throughput in the Observatory is limited. During the summer when we are the busiest, please plan to arrive no later than half an hour before the end of the program to ensure a place in line. Visitors arriving less than a half-hr before close may participate in other astronomy-themed activities but will be admitted to the observatory only as time allows.

       

                

     

Current Night Sky: May 2018

                                       

                                                            

            Phases of the Moon:

     

Last Quarter Moon

May 7

10:09 PM EDT

New Moon

May 15

7:48 AM EDT

First Quarter Moon

May 21

11:49 PM EDT

Full Moon

May 29

10:20 AM EDT

        

         

Planet Visibility:

    

In Evening (after sunset):

    Venus, in W

    Jupiter, in SE 

         

At Midnight:

    Jupiter, in S   

                     

 In Morning (before sunrise):

    Jupiter, in SW

    Saturn, in S 

    Mars, in S

    Neptune, in SE

    Uranus, in E 

    Mercury, in E 

                    

        

Comets:

    

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

Meteors:

     

  •     The Eta Aquariid meteors are active during the first two weeks of the month, with a peak on May 6. Unfortunately, light from the waning gibbous Moon will swamp the fainter meteors. Typical rates might not exceed 10 meteors per hour as seen from the Northern Hemisphere, or twice that as seen from the Southern.         
  •       
                     

                                                                       

           

 

Jupiter reaches opposition on May 8th. It not only stays up all night, but is at its closest (409 million miles distant),

brightest (mag. – 2.5), and largest (44 arc-seconds across at the equator).  

(May 8, 2018, 9:00 PM EDT).

                     

  

               An hour after sunset on the 18th, the thin crescent Moon and Venus pair up in the west.

(May 18, 2018, 9:00 PM EDT).

     

                  

  

                           Two hours before sunrise on the next morning, Mars, Saturn, and Jupiter reign.

 (May 19, 2019, 3:20 AM EDT).

       

                                                 
                    

The Galaxies of Spring

                                     

For amateur astronomers, spring brings its own share of delights.

 

We live, of course, in the Milky Way Galaxy; if we could look at it from some distance away, we’d be able to see its beautiful spiral structure. Needless to say, we can never have that view; we’re embedded in the galactic disk, and we see the stars of the disk forming a band that encircles us in every direction. Ancient peoples had numerous myths and legends about the nature of the Milky Way, but it wasn’t until Galileo aimed a telescope at the sky that we realized that it is composed of numerous stars sharing this galaxy with us. Sadly, due to urbanization and the spread of light pollution, over a third of the world’s population are unable to see the Milky Way from their homes.

          

         

         Image credit: B. Fugate (FASORtronics) / ESO

 

The plane of Earth’s orbit around the Sun is tilted with respect to the plane of our galaxy. If you are fortunate enough to be watching from a dark rural site, you may see the Milky Way arching overhead in many seasons of the year. On evenings in May, though, the galaxy is low in the sky and we have a clear view out into the regions beyond our local galactic structure. Now more than at any other time of year, we can see deep into the intergalactic gulf.

       

                      

Credit: Rogelio Bernal Andreo (DeepSkyColors.com)

       

What we see in these regions are innumerable galaxies of all shapes and sizes. The rich concentrations of objects found in the constellations Virgo, Leo, and Coma Berenices are members of the so-called Virgo Cluster: a collection of over a thousand galaxies of which our Local Group is an outlying member. Most galaxies in the Virgo Cluster core are about 48 million light-years away; when the light we see left these star systems, early primates were evolving on Earth!

       

And beyond the Virgo Cluster are even more distant clusters.

       

Welcome to the galaxies of spring!     . 

      

                                             
   
                                                                        Major Astronomical Events: May / June 2018
               
    

May / June 2018

    

May 2

Wed. 7:00 AM EDT Moon 9° N of Antares

May 3

Thur. 1:00 PM EDT Venus 7° N of Aldebaran

May 4

Fri.

4:00 PM EDT

Moon 1.7° N of Saturn

May 5

Sat.

3:00 AM EDT

Eta Aquariid meteors peak. (Poor.)

May 5

Sat.

7:05 AM EDT - 9:05 AM EDT

Launch of Insight Mars Lander

May 5

Sat.

8:35 PM EDT

Moon @ apogee (404,457 km / 251,318 mi)

May 6

Sun.

3:00 AM EDT

Moon 3° N of Mars

May 7

Mon.

10:09 PM EDT

Last Quarter Moon

May 8

Tue.

9:00 PM EDT

Jupiter @ opposition

May 10

Thur.

5:00 AM EDT

Moon 2° S of Neptune

May 10

Thur. 8:00 AM EDT Jupiter @ closest approach (4.400 AU / 658 million km / 409 million mi)

May 12

Sat. 5:00 PM EDT Mercury 2° S of Uranus

May 13

Sun.

11:00 AM EDT

Moon 5° S of Uranus

May 13

Sun.

1:00 PM EDT

Moon 2° S of Mercury

May 14

Mon. 3:00 AM EDT Sun enters Taurus

May 15

Tue.

7:48 AM EDT

New Moon

May 17

Thur.

2:00 PM EDT

Moon 5° S of Venus

May 17

Thur.

5:05 PM EDT

Moon @ perigee (363,776 km / 226,040 mi)

May 21

Mon.

11:49 PM EDT

First Quarter Moon

May 23

Wed.

     

Fall Equinox, N. Hemisphere of Mars

May 24

Thur.

1:41 AM EDT (SCET)

Juno Jupiter orbiter Perijove #13

May 27

Sun.

2:00 PM EDT

Moon 4° N of Jupiter

May 29

Tue.

10:20  AM EDT

Full Moon ("Full Flower Moon")

May 29

Tue. 3:00 PM EDT Moon 9° N  of Antares

May 31

Thur.

9:00 PM EDT

Moon 1.6° N of Saturn

May 31

Thur. 9:47 AM EDT Moon 1.9° S of Vesta

June 1

Fri.

    

Hayabusa-2 orbital insertion around asteroid (162173) Ryugu

June 2

Sat.

12:35 PM EDT

Moon @ apogee (405,317 km / 251,852 mi)

June 3

Sun.

8:00 AM EDT

Moon 3° N of Mars

June 3 Sun. 10:26 PM EDT - 10:30 PM EDT Brightest ISS pass of month (mag. - 4.0, 84°)

June 4

Mon.

     

New Horizons wakes from hiberation prior to MU69 encounter

June 5

Tue.

10:00 PM EDT

Mercury @ superior conjunction

June 6

Wed.

2:00 PM EDT

Moon 2° S of Neptune

June 6

Wed.

2:32 PM EDT

Last Quarter Moon

June 8

Fri.

9:00 PM EDT

Venus 5° S of Pollux

June 9

Sat.

11:00 PM EDT

Moon 5° S of Uranus

June 13

Wed.

3:43 PM EDT

New Moon

June 14

Thur.

7:53 PM EDT

Moon @ perigee (359,503 km / 223,385 mi)

June 15

Fri.

5:07 AM EDT

Earliest  sunrise of year (5:07 AM EDT)

June 16

Sat.

4:32 AM EDT

Earliest beginning of morning civil twilight

June 16

Sat.

9:00 AM EDT

Moon 2° S of Venus

June 16 Sat. 4:00 PM EDT Moon 1.5° S of Beehive (M44)

June 17

Sun.

3:47 AM EDT

Earliest beginning of morning nautical twilight

June 18

Mon.

2:52 AM EDT

Earliest beginning of morning astronomical twilight

June 18 Mon. 8:00 AM EDT Moon 1.7° N of Regulus
June 19 Tue. 1:00 AM EDT Vesta @ closest approach (1.14 AU / 212 million km / 132 million mi)

June 19

Tue.

4:00 PM EDT

Asteroid 4 Vesta @ opposition

June 20

Wed.

6:51 AM EDT

First Quarter Moon

June 21

Thur.

6:07 AM EDT

June (Summer) Solstice

June 21 Thur. 5:00 PM EDT Sun enters Gemini

June 23

Sat.

3:00 PM EDT

Moon 4° N of Jupiter

June 24 Sun. 10:40 PM EDT Latest end of evening astronomical twilight

June 25

Mon.

12:00 PM EDT

Mercury 5° S of Pollux

June 25 Mon. 9::00 PM EDT Moon 9° N of Antares
June 25 Mon. 9:45 PM EDT Latest end of evening nautical twilight
June 26 Tue. 9:00 PM EDT Latest end of evening civil twilight
June 27 Wed. 4:00 AM EDT Saturn @ closest approach

June 27

Wed.

5:00 AM EDT

Moon 0.3° N of asteroid 4 Vesta

June 27 Wed. 8:25 PM EDT Latest sunset of year (8:25:22 PM EDT)
June 27 Wed. 4:00 AM EDT Saturn @ closest approach (9.05 AU / 1.35 billion km / 841 million mi)

June 27

Wed.

5:00 AM EDT

Moon 0.3° N of asteroid 4 Vesta

June 27

Wed.

9:00 AM EDT

Saturn @ opposition

June 28

Thur.

12:00 AM EDT

Moon 1.8° N of Saturn

June 28

Thur.

12:53 AM EDT

Full Moon ("Full Strawberry Moon")

June 29

Fri.

10:43 PM EDT

Moon @ apogee (406,062 km / 252,315 mi)

June 30

Sat.

10:00 PM EDT

Moon 5° N of Mars

   


 

An Overview of Major Astronomical Events in 2018
 

2018

Jan. 1

Mon.

3:00 PM EST

Mercury @ greatest elongation west (23°)

Jan. 3

Wed.

12:35 AM EST

Earth @ perihelion (0.98328 AU / 147,097,233 km / 91,401,983 mi)

Jan. 3

Wed.

7:14 AM EST

Latest sunrise of year (7:13:48 AM)

Jan. 3

Wed.

4:00 PM EST

Quadrantid meteors peak. (Poor.)

Jan. 8

Mon.

6:00 PM EST

Venus @ superior conjunction

Jan. 19

Fri.

4:42 AM EST - 4:56 AM EST

Double shadow transit on Jupiter (Europa, Ganymede)

Jan. 31

Wed.

5:51 AM EST - 6:56 AM EST

Total Lunar Eclipse (partial in Boston)

Jan. 31

Wed.

11:33 AM EST

Ceres @ opposition

Feb. 7

Wed.

8:53 AM EST (SCET)

Juno Jupiter orbiter Perijove #11

Feb. 17

Sat.

12:00 AM EST

Mercury @ superior conjunction

Mar. 4

Sun.

9:00 AM EST

Neptune @ superior conjunction

Mar. 11

Sun.

2:00 AM EST / 3:00 AM EDT

Daylight Saving Time begins

Mar. 15

Thur.

10:00 AM EDT

Mercury @ greatest elongation east (18°)

Mar. 17

Sat.

6:53 AM EDT - 6:53 PM EDT

Equilux (day and night of equal length)

Mar. 20

Tue.

12:15 PM EDT

March Equinox

Mar. 28

Wed.

8:30 PM EST

Venus 4' from Uranus

Mar. 31

Sat.

    

Deadline for Google Lunar X Prize

Apr. 1

Sun.

5:47 AM EDT (SCET)

Juno Jupiter orbiter Perijove #12

Apr. 1

Sun.

7:00 AM EDT

Mercury @ inferior conjunction

Apr. 16 Mon.  

Launch of TESS (Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite)

Apr. 18

Wed.

10:00 AM EDT

Uranus @ superior conjunction

Apr. 21

Sat.

All day

Astronomy Day (Spring)

Apr. 29

Sun.

11:06 AM EDT

Mercury @ greatest elongation west (27°)

May 5

Sat.

  7:05 AM EDT - 9:05 AM EDT

InSight Mars lander launched

May 5

Sat.

3:00 AM EDT

Eta Aquariid meteors peak. (Good.)

May 8

Tue.

9:00 PM EDT

Jupiter @ opposition

May 24

Thur.

1:41 AM EDT (SCET)

Juno Jupiter orbiter Perijove #13

May 23

Wed.

     

Fall Equinox, N. Hemisphere of Mars

June 1

Fri.

     

Hayabusa-2 orbital insertion around asteroid (162173) Ryugu

June 4 Mon.   New Horizons wakes from hiberation prior to MU69 encounter

June 5

Fri.

3:00 PM EDT

Mercury @ superior conjunction

June 14

Thur.

5:07 AM EDT

Earliest sunrise

June 19

Tue.

4:00 PM EDT

Vesta @ opposition

June 21

Thur.

6:07 AM EDT

June (Summer) Solstice

June 26

Tue.

8:25 PM EDT

Latest sunset of year (8:25:22 PM)

June 27

Wed.

9:00 AM EDT

Saturn @ opposition

July 5

Thur.

12:46 AM EDT - 3:05 AM EDT

Saturn occults TYC6277-323-1 (mag. 8.8)

July 6

Fri.

12:46 PM EDT

Earth @ aphelion

July 12

Thur.

12:00 AM EDT

Mercury @ greatest elongation east (26°)

July 12

Thur.

6:00 AM EDT

Pluto @ opposition

July 16

Mon.

1:19 AM EDT (SCET)

Juno Jupiter orbiter Perijove #14 (End of Primary Mission)

July 27

Fri.

1:00 AM EDT

Mars @ opposition

July 31

Tue.

   

Parker Solar Probe launched

Jul. 31

Tue.

4:00 AM EDT

Mars @ closest approach (0.385 AU / 57,595,192 km / 35,787,993 mi)

Aug.

    

    

SpaceX Dragon 2 launched with human crew to ISS

Aug. 8

Wed.

3:00 PM EDT

Mercury @ inferior conjunction

Aug. 12

Sun.

9:00 PM EDT

Perseid meteors peak. (Very good.)

Aug. 13 Mon.   New Horizons switches to 3-axis stabilized mode

Aug. 15

Wed.

1:09 AM EDT

Venus @ dichotomy

Aug. 16 Thur.   New Horizons begins Approach Phase

Aug. 16

Thur.

8:06 PM EDT - 10:12 PM EDT

Double shadow transit on Jupiter (Io, Europa)

Aug. 17

Fri.

   

OSIRIS-REx orbital insertion around asteroid 101955 Bennu

Aug. 17

Fri.

3:58 PM EDT

Venus @ greatest elongation east (46°)

Aug. 21 Tue.   New Horizons attempts first imaging of MU69 target

Aug. 26

Sun.

5:58 AM EDT

Mercury @ greatest elongation west (18°)

Sept. 6

Thur.

9:14 PM EDT (SCET)

Juno Jupiter orbiter Perijove #15 (beginning of Extended Mission)

Sept. 7

Fri.

2:00 PM EDT

Neptune @ opposition

Sept. 16

Sun.

1:00 AM EDT

Mars @ perihelion

Sept. 20

Thur.

3:00 PM EDT

Mercury @ superior conjunction

Sept. 21

Fri.

6:00 AM EDT

Venus @ greatest brilliancy (mag. - 4.8)

Sept. 22

Sat.

9:54 PM EDT

September (Fall) Equinox

Sept. 25

Tue.

6:35 AM EDT / 6:36 PM EDT

Equilux (day and night of equal length)

Sept. 25

Tue.

12:17 AM EDT

Venus @ greatest brilliancy (- 4.6)

Sept. 28

Fri.

   

Parker Solar Probe Venus flyby #1

Oct.

   

   

Solar Orbiter ((ESA mission) launched

Oct. 3 Wed.   New Horizons Trajectory Correction Maneuver (?)

Oct. 5

Fri.

   

BepiColombo Mercury orbiter launched

Oct. 13

Sat.

All day

Astronomy Day (Fall)

Oct. 17

Wed.

   

Winter solstice, N. Hemisphere of Mars

Oct. 21

Sun.

2:00 PM EDT

Orionid meteors peak. (Poor.)

Oct. 23

Tue.

9:00 PM EDT

Uranus @ opposition

Oct. 26

Fri.

10:11 AM EDT

Venus @ inferior conjunction

Oct. 29

Mon.

5:08 PM EDT (SCET)

Juno Jupiter orbiter Perijove #16

Oct. 30 Tue.   Second Falcon Heavy launch; payload includes LightSail 2.

Nov. 1

Thur.

   

Parker Solar Probe perihelion #1

Nov. 4

Sun.

1:00 AM EST / 2:00 AM EDT

Daylight Saving Time ends

Nov. 6

Tue.

9:59 AM EST

Mercury @ greatest elongation east (23°)

Nov. 17

Sat.

6:00 PM EDT

Juno @ opposition

Nov. 17

Sat.

7:00 PM EST

Leonid meteors peak. (Poor.)

Nov. 20 Tue.   New Horizons Trajectory Correction Maneuver (?)

Nov. 26

Mon.

 3:00 PM EST

InSight lands in Elysium Planitia

Nov. 26

Mon.

6:00 PM EST

Jupiter @ superior conjunction

Nov. 26

Mon.

9:00 PM EST

Mercury @ superior conjunction

Dec.

   

   

Boeing CST-100 Starliner launched with human crew to ISS

Dec. 1

Sat.

8:00 PM EDT

Venus @ greatest brilliancy (mag. - 4.9)

Dec. 6

Thur.

4:11 PM EST

Earliest sunset of year (4:11:48 PM EST)

Dec. 12

Wed.

6:33 PM EST

Comet 46P/Wirtanen @ perihelion (157.9 million km / 98.1 million mi)

Dec. 14

Fri.

8:00 AM EST

Geminid meteors peak. (Poor.)

Dec. 15

Sat.

7:00 AM EST

Mercury @ greatest elongation west (18°)

Dec. 16

Sun.

9:56 AM EST

Comet 46P/Wirtanen closest (11.5 million km / 7.1 million mi / 30 L.D.)

Dec. 21

Fri.

6:58 AM EST - 7:12 AM EST

Venus occults HIP72373 (mag. 5.9) (sunrise: 7:10 AM)

Dec. 21

Fri.

12:02 PM EST (SCET)

Juno Jupiter orbiter Perijove #17

Dec. 21

Fri.

5:22 PM EST

December (Winter) Solstice

Dec. 22

Sat.

4:00 PM EST

Ursid meteors peak (poor)

Dec. 25 Tue.   New Horizons begins Core Phase

 

     


   

    Supernova Style Science News  with Ms. Julie Seven Sage

    


          

May 15, 2018 - 10:00 PM EDT