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.




New Astronomy Course!


Introduction to Astronomy


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: January 9, 2018 - February 27, 2018, 7:45 PM - 9:15 PM.





November Astronomy-Related Events in the Boston Area  




Monday, November 6, 2017, 7:00 PM - 10:00 PM

Astronomy on Tap

Bell in Hand Tavern

45 Union Street

Boston, MA

Join us at Boston's Bell in Hand Tavern for an evening all about merging neutron stars. Professor Jocelyn Read will explain why the universe ripples when two neutron stars collide, and why the recent detection of these ripples (or gravitational waves) is so important.
Then, follow Dr. Rana Ezzeddine to the source of all the gold and uranium in the Universe.
Plus astro news and games with prizes.
Event is free of charge. Must be 21 years or older.



Thursday, November 9, 2017, 8:00 PM - 10 PM

Amateur Telescope Makers of Boston (ATMoB) Monthly Meeting

Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics

60 Garden St.

Cambridge, MA 02138

Topic and Speaker: “Howard Le Vaux in Antarctica with IGY – 1959-1960”, Tom Lepisto and Jean Le Vaux

As you all know, long-time ATMoB member Howard Le Vaux passed away last September. Among his many and varied lifetime experiences was a 15 month stint in Antarctica As part of the 1959-1960 International Geophysical Year. Howard’s primary work was in the study of the Aurora Australis. At our November meeting, Tom Lepisto and Jean Le Vaux will recount Howard’s adventure as a young Antarctic scientist. Tom Lepisto is a frequent visitor to ATMoB meetings. He and Howard traveled to a number of solar eclipses and often spent time skiing together. He and his wife Linda live in Medford, Massachusetts. Jean Le Vaux, Howard’s wife of 52 years and mother to their 4 children, lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.



Thursday, November 16, 2017, 7:30 PM

CfA Public Observatory Night

Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
60 Garden Street

Cambridge, MA 02138

Topic and Speaker:

"How to Hold a Dead Star in Your Hand"
Kimberly Arcand, CfA, Visualization Lead for NASA's Chandra X-Ray Observatory; Tom Sgouros, Manager of the Brown University Virtual Reality Lab; Elaine Jiang, Undergraduate, Brown University Center for Computation and Visualization

Objects in space are rather far away. The Moon is our closest celestial neighbor at nearly a quarter million miles from Earth, and the nearest star, our Sun, is 93 million miles away. These extreme distances mean that it’s usually impossible to touch real objects in space (meteorites that fall to the ground notwithstanding). But now, thanks to data from some of our favorite observatories, anyone can hold a dead star in their hand. Here’s how. Arcand, of the Chandra X-Ray Observatory, will talk about the process of creating the first data-based 3D model and print of an exploded star. At the end of Arcand's talk, she will be joined by Tom Sgouros, a researcher with and on virtual reality at the Brown University Center for Computation and Visualization and Elaine Jiang, an undergraduate student in computer science at Brown University. Arcand, Sgouros and Jiang have worked together to develop software, using Occulus Rift technology, allowing observers virtual first-hand experience of a supernova remnant like never before. After the talk, copies of Arcand's new book "Magnitude: The Scale of the Universe" will be available for purchase and signing.




Plus (ongoing):        



Boston University

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




Thursdays (every 3rd Thursday of month, Sept. - Nov.)

Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics

60 Garden St.

Cambridge, MA 02138




Fridays (until November 3), 8:30 PM - 10:00 PM

Guilliland Observatory

Museum of Science

1 Science Park

Boston, MA 02114





The Sky Report for the Month of November 2017



Daylight Saving Time ends at 2:00 AM on Sunday, November 5, for most areas of the U.S. and Canada.

In accordance with the adage, “Spring Forward, Fall Back”, move your clocks back one hour; 2:00 AM EDT becomes 1:00 AM EST.



Current Night Sky: At A Glance


            Phases of the Moon:                           



Full Moon

November 4

1:23 AM EDT

Last Quarter Moon

November 10

3:36 PM EST

New Moon

November 18

6:42 AM EST

First Quarter Moon

November 26

12:03 PM EST



The Moon & Planets:



Planet Visibility:


In Evening (after sunset):

    Mercury, in SW 

    Saturn, in SW

    Neptune, in SE

    Uranus, in E 


 At Midnight:

    Neptune, in W

    Uranus, in SW


 In Morning (before sunrise):

    Mars, in SE

    Jupiter, in E 

    Venus, in E 





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


  •     The Leonid meteor shower peaks on November 17. Under dark skies, expect about 10 meteors per hour. There will be a New Moon just a day afterwards,
  •     so moonlight will not interfere.  





On November 5, the nearly full Moon occults the bright star Aldebaran. The entire event is visible from northern Europe and eastern North America,

though times and durations will vary depending on the observing site. As seen from Boston, for example, the star disappears behind the Moon’s bright limb

 at 8:03 PM EST, and reappears from the dark, not-yet-fully-illuminated portion at 9:00 PM EST.

During the event, the rising Moon will climb from about 20° to about 30° above the eastern horizon.






Venus and Jupiter make a close approach in the morning sky on November 13. At their closest, they will be only 0.3° apart – about 2/3 of the diameter of the

Full Moon (shown as yellow circle above). Through a telescope, Venus will appear as barely more distant from Jupiter than the Galilean moons.

(November 13, 2017, 06:00 UT).  



The Leonid meteors peak on November 17. There is no Moon in the sky to drown out fainter meteors with its light; you may be able to see about 10 meteors

 per hour under good conditions. As is the case with most meteor showers, the best viewing is between midnight and dawn.

Meteors can appear anywhere in the sky, but if you trace their trajectory backwards, they seem to come from a central point: the radiant.

 In this case, the radiant is in the constellation Leo, hence the name of this shower.

(November 17, 2017, 08:00 UT).



A New Era of "Multi-Messenger" Astronomy


Virtually all that we know about the Universe – aside from fallen meteorites, cosmic ray particles, and the occasional sample return – has come about through observations of the electromagnetic spectrum - our primary window on the cosmos. Initially, we could only see visible light – first with the naked eye and then with optical telescopes of increasing size and sophistication. In the 1930’s, radio waves from space were detected, leading to the birth of radio astronomy. Most other wavelengths of the electromagnetic spectrum, ranging from millimeter waves through infrared, ultraviolet, X-ray, and gamma ray frequencies, are blocked from reaching the ground by the Earth’s atmosphere. But once space-borne facilities became available, these, too, could provide additional and complimentary views of the Universe.


In the last few years, that has begun to change. Gravitational waves – or “ripples in space-time” – were an effect predicted by Albert Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity. The waves are weak, and can only be detected from truly massive cosmic events and by instruments of exquisite sensitivity. They were first picked up in 2015; this and three more recent detections are thought to have resulted from the mergers of black hole binaries. But no optical or other EM counterparts were observed.


On August 17, 2017, a burst of gravitational waves was detected at the two LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory) facilities in Washington state and Louisiana, and at the Virgo instrument in Italy. Because the event was observed at three sites, it was possible to triangulate the rough position of the source.





Pre-discovery image of NGC 4993, with an inset showing the future location of the transient. Right: Dark Energy Camera discovery image of the

optical counterpart to GW170817. (P. Blanchard / E. Berger / CfA)


Within seconds, gamma ray satellites in orbit picked up a burst of gamma rays. Hours later, an optical counterpart was identified in the galaxy NGC 4993, allowing observations which detected the source in ultraviolet, X-ray, and radio frequencies.


The burst, identified as GW170817, is thought to be the result of a kilonova” the violent merger of two neutron stars approximately 130 million light years away.




This animation shows how binary neutron stars warp space-time to create gravitational waves, then collide and explode into a visible kilonova,

which can be detected by astronomers. It then pulls back to show the observatory in Chile that houses the Dark Energy Camera,

the primary tool of the Dark Energy Survey, whose gravitational wave team was among the first scientific collaborations to observe this kilonova

 on Aug. 17, 2017. (Fermilab).



This was the first event detected simultaneously by means of electromagnetic waves and gravitational waves. It is no doubt the first of many, and heralds the era of “multi-messenger” astronomy which will provide us with entirely new ways to study the cosmos around us.    



November Major Astronomical Events       
Nov. 1 Wed. 11:00 AM EDT Venus 4° N of Spica
Nov. 2 Thur. 9:00 PM EDT Moon 4° S of Uranus
Nov. 4 Sat. 1:23 AM EDT Full Moon ("Full Beaver Moon")
Nov. 5 Sun.   Southern Taurid meteors peak
Nov. 5 Sun. 2:00 AM EDT End of Daylight Saving Time
Nov. 5 Sun. 7:10 PM EST Moon @ perigee (361,438 km / 224,587 mi)
Nov. 5 Sun. 8:03 PM EST - 9:00 PM EST Moon occults Aldebaran
Nov. 9 Thur.   Carl Sagan Day
Nov. 10 Fri. 3:36 PM EST Last Quarter Moon
Nov. 11 Sat. 7:37 AM EST Antares rocket with Cygnus payload launched to ISS from Wallops Island, VA
Nov. 11 Sat. 12:00 PM EST Moon 0.4° N of Regulus
Nov. 12 Sun.   Northern Taurid meteors peak
Nov. 12 Sun. 12:00 PM EST Mercury 2° N of Antares
Nov. 13 Mon. 1:00 AM EST Venus 0.3° N of Jupiter
Nov. 14 Tue. 8:00 PM EST Moon 3° N of Mars
Nov. 16 Thur. 4:00 PM EST Moon 4° N of Jupiter
Nov. 16 Thur. 11:00 PM EST Moon, Venus, and Jupiter within a circle 4.86° in diameter
Nov. 17 Fri. 1:00 AM EST Moon 4° N of Venus
Nov. 17 Fri.   Leonid meteors peak
Nov. 18 Sat. 6:42 AM EST New Moon
Nov. 20 Mon.   Summer begins in Northern Hemisphere of Mars
Nov. 20 Mon. 4:00 AM EST Moon 7° N of Mercury
Nov. 20 Mon. 7:00 PM EST Moon 3° N of Saturn
Nov. 21 Tue. 1:53 PM EST Moon @ apogee (406,131 km / 252,358 mi)
Nov. 23 Thur. 1:00 AM EST Sun enters Scorpius
Nov. 23 Thur. 7:00 PM EST Mercury @ greatest eastern elongation (22° E of Sun); evening apparition
Nov. 26 Sun. 12:03 PM EST First Quarter Moon
Nov. 26 Sun. 12:00 AM EST Moon 1.2° S of Neptune
Nov. 27 Mon. 7:00 PM EST` Mars 3° N of Spica
Nov. 28 Tue. 4:00 AM EST Mercury 3° S of Saturn
Nov. 29 Wed. 8:00 PM  EST Sun enters Ophiuchus
Nov. 30 Thur. 5:00 AM EST Moon 4° S of Uranus


An Overview of Major 2017 Astronomical Events

Jan. 3 Tue. 7:14:38 AM EST Latest sunrise of year in Boston
Jan. 3 Tue. 9:00 AM EST Quadrantid meteors
Jan. 4 Wed. 9:00 AM EST Earth @ perihelion (0.98331 AU / 147,101,111 km / 91,404,393 mi)
Jan. 12 Thur. 8:00 AM EST Venus @ greatest eastern elongation (47.1° E); Evening "Star"
Jan. 12 Thur. 6:00 PM EST Venus 0.4° N of Neptune (21' 57" in Boston)
Jan. 17 Tue. 8:00 PM EST Vesta @ opposition (mag. 6.3)
Jan. 19 Thur. 1:00 AM EST Jupiter 2.7° S of Moon
Jan. 19 Thur. 5:00 AM EST Mercury @ greatest western elongation (24.1° W); Morning "Star"
Jan. 31 Tue. 6:00 PM EST Mars, Venus, and waxing crescent Moon fit into circle 6° in diameter
Feb. 11 Sat. 5:34 PM EST - 9:53 PM EST Penumbral Lunar Eclipse
Feb. 17 Fri. 2:00 AM EST Venus @ greatest illuminated extent
Feb. 26 Sun. 7:10 AM EST - 12:38 PM EST Annular Solar Eclipse (SW Africa. S. Atlantic, South America)
Feb. 26 Sun. 8:15 PM EST Mars 34' N of Uranus
Mar. 1 Wed. 10:00 PM EST Neptune @ solar conjunction
Mar. 12 Sun. 2:00 AM EST Daylight Saving Time begins
Mar. 20 Mon. 6:29 AM EDT March Equinox
Mar. 25 Sat. 6:00 AM EDT Venus @ inferior conjunction
Apr. 1 Sat. 6:00 AM EDT Mercury @ greatest eastern elongation (19.0° E); Evening "Star"
Apr. 7 Fri. 5:00 PM EDT Jupiter @ opposition
Apr. 12 Wed. 2:00 PM EDT Comet 41P/Tuttle-Giacobini-Kresak @ perihelion (mag. 5?)
Apr. 14 Fri. 2:00 AM EDT Uranus @ solar conjunction
Apr. 22 Sat. 8:00 AM EDT Lyrid meteors
Apr. 22 Sat.   Cassini Titan flyby begins Proximal Orbit Phase ("Grand Finale")
Apr.29 Sat. All day Astronomy Day (spring)
Apr. 30 Sun. 12:00 AM EDT Venus @ greatest illuminated extent
May 4 Thur. 9:00 AM EDT Eta Aquarid meteors
May 17 Wed. 7:00 PM EDT Mercury @ greatest western elongation (25.8° W); Morning "Star"
Jun. 2 Fri. 10:00 AM EDT Venus 2° S of Uranus
Jun. 3 Sat. 7:00 AM EDT Venus @ greatest western elongation (45.9° W); Morning "Star"
Jun. 3 Sat. 8:00 PM EST Moon 2° N  of Jupiter
Jun. 3 Sat. 10:24 PM EDT - 12:21 AM EDT Double shadow transit on Jupiter (Io, Ganymede)
Jun. 12 Wed. 4:00 AM EDT Comet C/2015 V2 (Johnson) @ perihelion (mag. 6?)
Jun. 14 Wed. 5:07:00 AM EDT Earliest sunrise of year in Boston
Jun. 15 Thur. 5:00 AM EDT Saturn @ opposition
Jun. 19 Mon. 10:06 PM EDT - 10:38 PM EDT Double shadow transit on Jupiter (Io, Europa)
Jun. 21 Wed. 12:25 AM EDT June Solstice
Jun. 27 Tue. 8:25:22 PM EDT Latest sunset of year in Boston
Jul. 3 Mon. 4:00 AM EDT Earth @ aphelion (1.01668 AU / 152,093,193 km / 94,506,329 mi)
Jul. 10 Mon. 12:10 AM EDT Pluto @ opposition
Jul. 26 Wed. 9:00 PM EDT Mars @ superior comjunction
Jul. 28 Fri. 9:00 PM EDT Moon 2° N of Jupiter
Jul. 30 Sun. 12:00 AM EDT Mercury @ greatest eastern elongation (27.2° E); Evening "Star"
Aug. 7 Mon. 11:50 AM EDT - 4:50  PM EDT Partial Lunar Eclipse (Eastern Hemisphere)
Aug. 12 Sat. 3:00 PM EDT Perseid meteors
Aug. 21 Mon. 11:46 AM EDT - 5:04 PM EDT Total Solar Eclipse (Partial 9:28 AM EDT - 11:59 PM EDT in Boston)
Sept. 5 Tue. 12:00 AM EDT Neptune @ opposition
Sept. 12 Tue. 6:00 AM EDT Mercury @ greatest western elongation (17.9° W); Morning "Star
Sept. 15 Fri. 8:07 AM EDT Cassini enters atmosphere of Saturn, burns up
Sept. 16 Sat. 2:00 PM EDT Mercury 0.03° N of Mars (3.2' in Pacific, 18' in Boston)
Sept. 22 Fri. 12:52 PM EDT OSIRIS-REx Earth flyby (~ 16,000 km / 10,000 mi)
Sept. 22 Fri. 4:02 PM EDT September Equinox
Sept. 30 Sat. All day Astronomy Day (fall)
Oct. 5 Thur. 9:00 AM EDT Venus 0.2° N of Mars
Oct. 7 Sat.   Mars @ aphelion
Oct. 19 Thur. 1:00 PM EDT Uranus @ opposition
Oct. 26 Thur. 2:12 PM EDT Jupiter @ solar conjunction
Nov. 5 Sun. 2:00 AM EDT Daylight Saving Time ends
Nov. 5 Sun. 9:03 PM EST - 9:59 PM EST Moon occults Aldebaran
Nov. 13 Mon. 1:00 AM EST Venus 0.3° N of Jupiter
Nov. 17 Fri. 12:00 PM EST Leonid meteors
Nov. 23 Thur. 7:00 PM EST Mercury @ greatest eastern elongation (22.0° E); Evening "Star"
Nov. 28 Tue. 5:00 AM EST Mercury 3° S of Saturn
Dec. 8 Fri. 4:11:42 PM EST Earliest sunset of year in Boston
Dec. 14 Thur. 1:00 AM EST Geminid meteors
Dec. 21 Thur. 11:29 PM EST December Solstice
Dec. 21 Thur. 6:00 PM EST Saturn @ solar conjunction
Dec. 22 Fri. 10:00 AM EST Ursid meteors
Dec. 30 Sat. 7:28 PM EST - 8:21 PM EST Moon occults Aldebaran




    New: Telescopes for Kids Resource Guide




    Supernova Style Science News  with Ms. Julie Seven Sage



November 15, 2017 - 9:00 PM EST