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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.


















       

            


                 

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

                                                        


          

 September Astronomy-Related Events in the Boston Area  

                                                      

     

Wednesday, September 5, 2018 - Sunday, September 9, 2018

Acadia Night Sky Festival

Acadia National Park, ME
http://www.acadianightskyfestival.com/

         

      

Friday, September 7, 2018 - Sunday, September 9, 2018  

Connecticut Star Party
Astronomical Society of New Haven
Ashford, CT
http://www.asnh.org   

      

   

Saturday, September 8, 2018, 8:45 PM

Astronomy Night

Robbins Farm Park

Arlington, MA

http://www.arlingtonastronomy.org/

After Jupiter accompanied us through the whole summer, it has now begun to set at dusk. But as Jupiter yields its place of prominence in the sky, Saturn is high in the South, and Mars is now higher in the South-West. Another moonless night gives us a chance to see some deep sky objects.

       

   

Saturday, September 8, 2018 - Tuesday, September 11, 2018,; 9:00 PM - 12:00 PM

Monthly Star Party

Keene Amateur Astronomy Club

Sullivan Observatory

Keene, NH 03431

https://www.keeneastronomy.org

   

          

Saturday, September 8 & September 15; 7:30 PM  - 10:30 PM

Sea the Stars Cruise

Departing / Returning to Long Wharf, Boston

We wish upon them, gaze at them, aim for them, and sometimes even thank our lucky ones! For centuries, stars have fascinated us, guided us, and provided us with nighttime illumination and splendor. Sadly, the abundance of bright lights and tall buildings has made stargazing for city dwellers difficult at best and often pretty much impossible. But fear not, amateur astronomers and celestial connoisseurs, the Museum of Science and Boston Harbor Cruises have teamed up to bring you the Sea the Stars Cruise!

Onboard a high-speed catamaran, you'll travel to where the city lights and congestion are just a bright memory for a stargazing opportunity like no other in the city

Cruise highlights include:

     Three-hour cruise aboard a high-speed catamaran from Long Wharf, Boston

     Expert commentary and star identification from Museum of Science Astronomy Educators

     Narration on the history and importance of celestial navigation – how sailors used the stars

     Related video and content

     Plenty of outdoor viewing space

     Comfortable indoor seating

     Cash Bar and snacks available onboard

Please note: Stargazing is dependent on clear skies. If forecasts show that clouds or precipitation will rule out good viewing, the cruise will be cancelled. Decisions on any cancellation will be made by 2:00 pm on the day of the cruise. Ticket passengers will be notified and refunds will be made. If, during the cruise, visibility limits successful stargazing, passengers will receive a rain check to return for a future Sea the Stars Cruise.

For tickets and more information, visit bostonharborcruises.com/harbor-cruises/sea-the-stars-cruise.

          

          

Thursday, September 13, 2018, 8:00 PM

Amateur Telescope Makers of Boston (ATMoB) Monthly Meeting

60 Garden St.

Cambridge, MA 02138

http://www.atmob.org

We begin the 2018-2019 season with a pair of talks presented by ATMoB members. It’s hard to believe that over a year has passed since the Great America Eclipse of 2017. Julie Kaufmann will relate her experience with this epic event. Following Julie’s talk, Rich Nugent and members of the Outreach Committee will discuss the ATMoB outreach program. We’ll look at the various types of outreach events, why they are important to our club and to amateur astronomy in general, and what you can do to help our outreach program achieve the level of activity (20-25 star parties per year) it once had.  A short star party “How-to” will be part of the presentation.
Please join us for a pre-meeting dinner discussion at House of Chang, 282 Concord Ave, Cambridge, MA at 6:00pm before the meeting.

          
   
Friday, September 14, 2018 -September 15, 2018

New England Fall Astonomy Festival

University of New Hampshire Observatory
Spinney Lane

Durham, NH

http://nefaf.com/

        

    
Friday, September 14, 2018 - Sunday, September 16, 2018
Annual Starfest Starparty
Astronomical Society of Northern New England
Starfield Observatory
918 Alewive Road (Rt 35)
Kennebunk, ME 04043
http://www.asnne.org
   
        
Thursday, September 20, 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

The Search for Primitive and Intelligent Life on Other Planets
Prof. Abraham (Avi) Loeb, Chair of the Astronomy Department, Harvard University

Are we alone? Probably not, out of modesty - keeping in mind that about a quarter of all stars host a habitable Earth-size planet. Upcoming searches for primitive life will aim to detect oxygen or methane in the atmospheres of transiting planets. Searches for intelligent life will aim to detect artificial signals in the radio or optical bands, as well as artifacts such as megastructures, solar cells that are used to re-distribute light and heat on tidally-locked planets, industrial pollution or artificial light beams. Our own civilization is starting to study the feasibility of interstellar travel using a powerful laser beam pushing on a lightweight sail, the so-called Starshot Initiative. If successful, we might receive a signal from outer space stating: "Welcome to the interstellar club!".

    

    

Friday, September 28, 2018 - Saturday, September 29, 2018

AstroAssembly 2018

Skyscrapers, Inc.

Seagrave Observatory & North Scituate Community Center

North Scituate, RI

http://www.theskyscrapers.org/astroassembly2018

     

   

     

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: September

CfA Public Observatory Night

Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics

60 Garden St.

Cambridge, MA 02138

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

    

    

Fridays, 8:00 PM - 10:00 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: September 2018

                                                                     

The September Equinox occurs at 9:54 PM EDT on September 22. This represents the instant the Sun crosses the celestial equator on its way south. By convention, it is considered the beginning of autumn in the northern hemisphere and of spring in the southern hemisphere.

     

            Phases of the Moon:

                   

             

    

  

Last Quarter Moon

September 2

10:37 PM EDT

New Moon

September 9

2:01 PM EDT

First Quarter Moon

September 16

7:15 PM EDT

Full Moon

September 24

10:52 PM EDT

           

       

Planet Visibility:

    

In Evening (after sunset):

    Venus, in SW

    Jupiter, in SW

    Saturn, S

    Mars, in S

    Neptune, in E 

         

At Midnight:

    Saturn, in SW

    Mars, in SW

    Neptune, in S

    Uranus, in E   

                     

 In Morning (before sunrise):

    Neptune, in W

    Uranus, in SW

    Mercury, in E 

                       

           

Comets:

    

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

Meteors:

     

  •     There are no major meteor showers in September.
                     

                                                                               

                

     

    Neptune reaches opposition on Sept. 7. It lies opposite to our Sun in our sky, so rises at sunset, stays up all night, and sets at sunrise. It is also at its closest to Earth – 2.7 billion miles away. That’s not saying much; from that distance it takes light 4 hours to reach us. Even though the planet is almost 4 times the diameter of Earth, it appears no larger than 2.3 arc-seconds across and only reaches magnitude 7.8 in brightness – far below naked-eye visibility. In a modest telescope, it looks barely distinguishable from a star. (September 7, 2018; 2:27 PM EDT).

            

                                  

  

                          

Four planets – Mars, Saturn, Jupiter, and Venus – are lined up for our viewing pleasure on September evenings. In mid-month, a waxing Moon joins them.

A half-hour after sunset, a smattering of brighter stars are visible. (September 15, 2018; 7:22 PM EDT).   

           

                     

                     

             On

At the autumn (or September) equinox (globe in left foreground), the Earth is experiencing equal amounts of sunlight in each hemisphere. Afterwards, the Southern Hemisphere begins to get more sunlight, leading to winter in the Northern Hemisphere. (September 22, 2016, 9:54 PM EDT).

         
                                

Harvest Moon

                                                

The Harvest Moon is defined as the Full Moon occurring closest to the September Equinox (Sept. 22). Most times, this is the Full Moon in September, though occasionally (as was the case last year), it is the October Full Moon that happens closest to the Equinox.  

 

  

        

What makes the Harvest Moon noteworthy?

   

Every Full Moon rises just as the Sun is going down. As the Moon moves eastward on successive nights, it follows along (though not necessarily on) an imaginary line called the ecliptic. (The ecliptic represents the path of the Sun as projected against the background stars.)

  

Near the fall equinox, the ecliptic makes a shallow angle with the horizon. Even though the Moon’s movement along the ecliptic is uniform, it moves only slightly higher above the horizon over several successive days. Whereas, on average, the Moon rises 50 minutes later each night, at mid-northern latitudes the moonrise near the equinox can happen just 23 minutes later each night for several nights. It’s almost as if there are several Full Moons in a row!

     

Why the term “Harvest Moon”?

    

In traditional agricultural societies, the crop harvest occurred just as the time of sunset was rapidly getting earlier. The timely rise of a nearly-full Moon just after sunset provided a welcome period of additional light for harvesting.         

       


   
                                                                        Major Astronomical Events: September 2018
               
    

 September 2018

    
Sept. 2 Sun.   Christa McAuliffe born 70 years ago (1948)
Sept. 2 Sun. 4:00 AM EDT Moon 9° SSE of Pleiades
Sept. 2 Sun. 5:00 AM EDT Venus 1.4° S of Spica
Sept. 2 Sun. 10:00 PM EDT Moon 1.2° N of Aldebaran
Sept. 2 Sun. 10:37 PM EDT Last Quarter Moon
Sept. 4 Tue. 12:00 PM EDT Moon 4° S of M35 cluster
Sept. 5 Wed. 7:00 PM EDT Mercury 1.0° N  of Regulus
Sept. 6 Thur. 6:43 PM EDT Moon @ ascending node
Sept. 6 Thur. 7:28 PM EDT Neptune @ closest (28.933 AU / 4.328 billion km / 2.689 billion mi)

Sept. 6

Thur.

9:14 PM EDT (SCET)

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

Sept. 6 Thur. 10:00 PM EDT Moon 1.1° SSW of Beehive Cluster
Sept. 7 Fri.   Mars (mag. -1.9) becomes dimmer than Jupiter
Sept. 7 Fri. 2:27 PM EDT Neptune @ opposition
Sept. 7 Fri. 9:20 PM EDT Moon @ perigee (361,351 km / 224,533 mi)
Sept. 8 Sat. 12:54 PM EDT Sun's N Pole points toward us
Sept. 9 Sun. 2:01 PM EDT New Moon
Sept. 12 Wed. 4:00 AM EDT Moon 7° NNE  of Spica
Sept. 12 Wed. 12:00 PM EDT Moon 10° N of Venus
Sept. 13 Thur. 10:00 PM EDT Moon 4° N of Jupiter
Sept. 15 Sat. 4:00 PM EDT Moon 8.8° N of Antares
Sept. 16 Sun. 8:52 AM EDT Mars @ perihelion (206.6 million km / 128.4 million miles) from Sun
Sept. 16 Sun. 7:15 PM EDT First Quarter Moon
Sept. 16 Sun. 10:00 PM EDT Sun enters Virgo
Sept. 17 Mon. 12:00 PM EDT Moon 2° N of Saturn
Sept. 19 Wed. 8:53 PM EDT Moon @ apogee (404,876 km / 251,578 mi)
Sept. 20 Thur. 3:00 AM EDT Moon 5° N of Mars
Sept. 20 Thur. 5:34 AM EDT Moon @ descending node
Sept. 20 Thur. 9:52 PM EDT Mercury @ superior conjunction
Sept. 21 Fri. 6:00 AM EDT Venus @ greatest illuminated extent
Sept. 22 Sat. 9:54 PM EDT September (Fall) Equinox
Sept. 23 Sun. 12:00 PM EDT Moon 2° N of Neptune
Sept. 24 Mon. 10:52 PM EDT Full Moon ("Full Harvest Moon")
Sept. 25 Tue. 12:17 AM EDT Venus @ greatest brilliancy (mag. - 4.6)

Sept. 25

Tue.

6:35 AM EDT / 6:36 PM EDT

Equilux (day and night of equal length)

Sept. 25 Tue. 8:00 PM EDT Saturn @ eastern quadrature
Sept. 27 Thur. 5:20 AM EDT Vesta 2.8° S of Saturn
Sept. 27 Thur. 3:00 AM EDT Moon 5° S of Uranus
Sept. 28 Fri. 8:00 PM EDT Venus 13.8° WSW of Jupiter
Sept. 29 Sat. 10:00 AM EDT Moon 8.6° SSE of Pleiades
Sept. 30 Sun. 4:00 AM EDT Moon 1.4° N of Aldebaran

   


 

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.

    

    

SpaceX Falcon 9 • Crew Dragon 2 Demo 1

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

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

    


             

September 15, 2018 - 10:00 PM EDT