Boston

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 Next Astronomy Course:

           

Meet the Universe: Winter Semester

                     

Meets at the Cambridge Center for Adult Education, 8 Tuesdays: January 15, 2019 - March 5, 2019, 7:45 PM - 9:15 PM.

           

                                                           


          

 October Astronomy-Related Events in the Boston Area  

                                                      

     

Thursday, October 11, 2018, 8:00 PM

Amateur Telescope Makers of Boston (ATMoB) Monthly Meeting

60 Garden St.

Cambridge, MA 02138

http://www.atmob.org

   

         
        
Thursday, October 18, 2018, 7:30 PM (doors open at 7:00 PM, and auditorium fills quickly; plan to arrive by 6:30 to get in line)
Monthly Observatory Night

Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics

60 Garden St.

Cambridge, MA 02138

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

Quantum Tools to Explore the Universe…and Help Life on Earth
Ronald Walsworth, Senior Physicist, Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, Senior Lecturer on Physics, Harvard University

At the Center for Astrophysics, we exploit quantum physics to advance the state-of-the-art in measurement and imaging, and then apply these tools to search for Earth-like planets around other stars and probe the nature, history, and fate of the Universe. Sometimes, these quantum tools can also be applied to down-to-Earth problems — ranging from health to navigation. I will describe some examples from my laboratory. (Photo credit: David Glenn)

 

       

     

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, January-May & September-November, 8:30 - 10:30 PM); next event: October

CfA Public Observatory Night

Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics

60 Garden St.

Cambridge, MA 02138

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

    

    

Fridays in October, 7:30 PM - 9:30 PM):

Astronomy After Hours

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. 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: October 2018

                                                                      

      

            Phases of the Moon:

                    

Last Quarter Moon

October 2

5:45 AM EDT

New Moon

October 8

11:47 PM EDT

First Quarter Moon

October 16

2:02 PM EDT

Full Moon

October 24

12:45 PM EDT

Last Quarter Moon

October 31

12:40 PM EDT

 

       

Planet Visibility:

    

In Evening (after sunset):

    Mercury, in SW

    Venus, in SW

    Jupiter, in SW

    Saturn, SW

    Mars, in S

    Neptune, in SE

    Uranus,  in E 

         

At Midnight:

    Mars, in SW

    Neptune, in SW

    Uranus, in SE   

                     

In Morning (before sunrise):

    Uranus, in W

                         

           

Comets:

 

    The comet 21P/Giacobini-Zinner may attain magnitude 7, making it a fine telescopic object. A word of caution, however: the orbits and positions of comets can be predicted with considerable accuracy, but brightness estimates are notoriously unreliable

  •  
    •   

Meteors:

       

  •     The Orionid meteor shower peaks on October 21. After the Moon sets, you may see up to 20 meteors per hour.
                       

                                                                               

                

        

    The summer lineup of planets has passed. By mid-October, Venus is no longer visible in the evening, and Jupiter is getting progressively lower.

Saturn and Mars, though, remain prominent. At midmonth, the Moon passes through the lineup. (October 16, 2018; 6:30 PM EDT).

               

                                     

  

                              

The Orionid meteors are active during the last two weeks of October, with a peak in the pre-dawn hours of Oct. 21. Though they can appear anywhere in the sky,

their paths can be traced back to a location in the sky (called the radiant) in Orion. This year, unfortunately, the light of the nearly full Moon drowns out the fainter meteors. The best views may be during the short period between moonset and dawn. (October 21, 2018; 4:30 AM EDT).

              

                        

                     

                    

Uranus reaches opposition on Oct. 23. It lies opposite to our Sun in our sky, so rises at sunset, stays up all night, and sets at sunrise. It is as close to Earth

as it gets this year: 1.75 billion miles away; light from the planet takes about 2½ hours to reach us. Even though Uranus is considered an “Ice Giant”,

from our distant perspective it appears no larger than 3.7 arc-seconds across. It reaches magnitude 5.7 in brightness – within the range of naked-eye visibility

under good conditions (although there is no record of it having been recognized as a planet before its discovery in 1781). In a modest telescope,

it looks like a pale, grey disk: tiny, but clearly not a star-like point. (October 23, 2018; 2:00 AM EDT)

             
                                   

The Patterns of Fall

                                                   

In the mid-northern latitudes, the star patterns of summer are giving way to the constellations of fall. It will be a while before the stars of the Summer Triangle disappear into the glow of evening twilight, but the Teapot is virtually gone. Meanwhile, the Great Square is nearing the zenith.

       

  

             

Since time immemorial, humans have organized the seemingly random distribution of stars into patterns. Every culture has filled the night sky with beings, objects, and symbols it has deemed important. In some cases, these patterns have had remarkable uniformity; the association of the Big Dipper with bear myths, for example, appears in both Eurasian and Native American narratives.

      

Many of our modern constellations trace their beginnings to Greek and Babylonian times. Others were drawn up after Europeans sailed south of the Equator; some, such as the Microscope and the Compass, were named after objects important to this endeavor of exploration.

        

In our time, we recognize 88 “official” constellations. These are internationally defined regions covering the entire sky, with no overlap and no unassigned areas. You may be surprised to learn, though, that none of the groupings we have mentioned so far are among these constellations!

           

They are, instead, asterisms. Asterisms are “unofficially” recognized patterns of stars, laid out as matters of convenience. An asterism may be composed of several stars within a single constellation, or of stars from several constellations. The Summer Triangle, for instance, is composed of Vega (in the constellation Lyra), Altair (in Aquila), and Deneb (in Cygnus). The Teapot, Great Square, and Big Dipper are just subsets of stars within the constellations Sagittarius, Pegasus, and Ursa Major, respectively.

       

However we visualize the patterns of the night sky, we now bid farewell to the stars of summer and greet the skies of fall.  

                


   
                                                                        Major Astronomical Events: October / November 2018
               
    

 October / November 2018

    
Oct. 1 Mon.   NASA's 60th Birthday
Oct. 1 Mon. 6:00 PM EDT Moon 3.5° S of M35 Cluster
Oct. 2 Tue. 5:45 AM EDT Last Quarter Moon
Oct. 3 Wed.       New Horizons Trajectory Correction Maneuver (?)
Oct. 3 Wed.   Hayabusa MASCOT (Mobile Asteroid Surface Scout) released on Ryugu
Oct. 3 Wed. 3:00 AM EDT Moon 11° S of Castor

Oct. 3

Wed.

 4:44 AM EDT

Parker Solar Probe Venus flyby #1

Oct. 3 Wed. 7:00 AM EDT Moon 8° S of Pollux
Oct. 3 Wed. 11:11 PM EDT Moon @ ascending node
Oct. 4-10     World Space Week
Oct. 4 Thur.   Moon 1° SSW of Beehive Cluster
Oct. 5 Fri. 2:00 PM EDT Mercury 2° N of Spica
Oct. 4 Fri. 6:00 PM EDT Moon 2° N of Regulus
Oct. 5 Fri. 6:27 PM EDT Moon @ perigee (366,393 km / 227,666 mi)
Oct. 7 Sun. 6:00 AM EDT Ceres @ superior conjunction
Oct. 8 Mon. 8:00 PM EDT Draconid meteors peak?
Oct. 8 Mon. 11:47 PM EDT New Moon
Oct. 10 Wed. 11:00 AM EDT Moon 13° N of Venus
Oct. 11 Thur. 5:00 PM EDT Moon 4° N of Jupiter

Oct. 13

Sat.

All day

Astronomy Day (Fall)

Oct. 13 Sat. 2:00 AM EDT Moon 9° N of Antares
Oct. 14 Sun. 11:00 AM EDT Mercury 7° N of Venus
Oct. 14 Sun. 11:00 PM EDT Moon 1.8° N of Saturn
Oct. 15 Mon. 5:00 PM EDT Beginning of Winter Solstice, N Hemisphere of Mars
Oct. 16 Tues. 2:02 PM EDT First Quarter Moon
Oct. 17 Wed. 8:08 AM EDT Moon @ descending node
Oct. 17 Wed. 3:16 PM EDT Moon @ apogee (404,227 km / 251,175 mi)
Oct. 18 Thur. 5:45 AM EDT Launch of BepiColombo mission to Mercury
Oct. 18 Thur. 9:00 AM EDT Moon 1.9° N of Mars
Oct. 20 Sat. 6:00 PM EDT Moon 3° S of Neptune
Oct. 21 Sun. 1:00 PM EDT Orionid meteors peak (poor)
Oct. 23 Tue. 2:02 AM EDT Uranus @ closest (18.875 AU / 2.824 billion km / 1.755 billion mi)
Oct. 23 Tue. 9:00 PM EDT Uranus @ opposition
Oct. 24 Wed. 9:00 AM EDT Moon 5° S of Uranus
Oct. 24 Wed. 12:45 PM EDT Full Moon ("Full Hunter's Moon")
Oct. 26 Fri. 10:11 AM EDT Venus @ inferior conjunction
Oct. 26 Fri. 5:00 PM EDT Moon 9° SSE of Pleiades
Oct. 27 Sat. 9:00 AM EDT Moon 2° N of Aldebaran
Oct. 29 Mon.   Parker Solar Probe sets record for closest solar approach (0.29 AU)
Oct. 29 Mon. 12:00 AM EDT Moon 3° S of M35 cluster
Oct. 29 Mon. 12:00 AM EDT Mercury 3° S of Jupiter

Oct. 29

Mon.

5:08 PM EDT (SCET)

Juno Jupiter orbiter Perijove #16

Oct. 30 Tue.   Parker Solar Probe sets record for speed around Sun (68.6 km/sec)
Oct. 30 Tue. 11:46 PM EDT Moon @ ascending node
Oct. 31 Wed. 3:00 AM EDT Sun enters Libra
Oct. 31 Wed. 12:40 PM EDT Last Quarter Moon
Oct. 31 Wed. 4:23 PM EDT Moon @ perigee (370,204 km / 230,034 mi)

Nov. 1

Thur.

   

Parker Solar Probe perihelion #1

Nov. 2 Fri. 1:00 AM EDT Moon 2° NNE of Regulus

Nov. 4

Sun.

1:00 AM EST / 2:00 AM EDT

Daylight Saving Time ends

Nov. 5 Mon. 9:00 PM EST Moon 10° N of Venus
Nov. 6 Tue. 10:00 AM EST Mercury @ greatest eastern elongation (23° from Sun)
Nov. 7 Wed. 11:02 AM EST New Moon
Nov. 8 Thur. 11:43 AM EST - 12:39 PM EST Moon occults Pluto
Nov. 9 Fri.   Carl Sagan born 84 years ago (1934)
Nov. 9 Fri. 1:00 AM EST Mercury 1.8° N of Antares
Nov. 9 Fri. 7:00 AM EST Moon 7° N of Mercury
Nov. 9 Fri. 10:00 AM EST Moon 8.4° NNE of Antares
Nov. 11 Sun. 11:00 AM EST Moon 1.5° N of Saturn
Nov. 12 Mon. 1:00 PM EST Moon 0.9° N of Pluto
Nov. 14 Wed. 10:56 AM EST Moon @ apogee (404,340 km / 251,245 mi)
Nov. 14 Wed. 3:00 PM EST Venus 1.3° E of Spica
Nov. 15 Thur.   William Herschel born 280 years ago (1738)
Nov. 15 Thur. 9:54 AM EST First Quarter Moon
Nov. 15 Thur. 11:00 PM EST Moon 1.0° S of Mars
Nov. 16 Fri. 3:00 AM EST Juno closest to Earth (1.036 AU / 155 million km / 96.3 million mi)
Nov. 17 Sat. 1:00 AM EST Moon 3° S of Neptune
Nov. 17 Sat. 5:00 PM EST Asteroid Juno @ opposition
Nov. 17 Sat. 5:00 PM EST Leonid meteors peak (poor)
Nov. 20 Tue.   New Horizons Trajectory Correction Maneuver (?)
Nov. 20 Tue. 3:00 PM EST Moon 5° S of Uranus
Nov. 23 Fri. 12:39 AM EST Full Moon ("Full Beaver Moon")
Nov. 23 Fri. 5:00 AM EST Moon 3.1° S of M35 cluster
Nov. 23 Fri. 7:00 AM EST Sun enters Scorpius
Nov. 23 Fri. 4:00 PM EST Moon 1.7° N of Aldebaran
Nov. 23 Fri. 11:00 PM EST Jupiter furthest from Earth (6.437 AU)
Nov. 24 Sat. 10:44 PM EST - 11:29 PM EST Moon occults 4.4 magnitude star Xi-1 Orionis
Nov. 26 Fri. 1:00 AM EST Moon 11° N of Pollux
Nov. 26 Fri. 2:00 AM EST Jupiter @ solar conjunction
Nov. 26 Mon. 7:12 AM EST Moon @ perigee (366,623 km / 227,809 mi)
Nov. 26 Mon. 1:00 PM EST Moon 11° N of Castor

Nov. 26

Mon.

3:00 PM EST

InSight lands in Elysium Planitia

Nov. 26 Mon. 6:00 PM EST Moon 7° S of Pollux
Nov. 27 Tue. 4:00 AM EST Mercury @ inferior conjunction
Nov. 27 Tue. 5:00 PM EST Moon 0.45° S of Beehive Cluster
Nov. 29 Thur. 4:00 AM EST Mercury @ perihelion (0.3875 AU)
Nov. 29 Thur. 7:19 PM EST Last Quarter Moon
Nov. 29 Thur. 9:00 PM EST Venus @ greatest brilliancy (-4.7)
Nov. 30 Fri. 2:00 AM EST Sun enters Ophiuchus

   


 

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 22 Tue.   Autumnal Equinox in Northern Hemisphere of Mars

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 (1.017 AU / 152.1 milion km / 94.5 million miles)

July 7 Sat.   Mars becomes brighter than Jupiter

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.

4:00 AM EDT

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

Aug. 4 Sat.   Parker Soar Probe launched

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.   Mars becomes dimmer than Jupiter

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. 22

Sat.

9:54 PM EDT

September (Fall) Equinox

Sept. 25

Tue.

12:17 AM EDT

Venus @ greatest brilliancy (- 4.6)

Sept. 25

Tue.

6:35 AM EDT / 6:36 PM EDT

Equilux (day and night of equal length)

Oct. 3

Wed.

  4:44 AM EDT

Parker Solar Probe Venus flyby #1

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

Oct. 13

Sat.

All day

Astronomy Day (Fall)

Oct. 17

Wed.

   

Winter solstice, N. Hemisphere of Mars

Oct. 18

Thur.

   

BepiColombo Mercury orbiter launched

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

Asteroid 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. 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

    


             

October 15, 2018 - 9:00 PM EDT