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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 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.

           

                                                           


          

 December Astronomy-Related Events in the Boston Area  

                                                      

     

Thursday, December 13, 2018, 8:00 PM

Amateur Telescope Makers of Boston (ATMoB) Monthly Meeting

60 Garden St.

Cambridge, MA 02138

http://www.atmob.org

Topic and Speaker: "Variable Stars and Their Stories", Dr. Stella Kafka

Variable stars have always been the most intriguing (and fun) targets for observers, professional and amateur alike. Stellar variability, both intrinsic and extrinsic, provide unique insights in critical stages of stellar evolution, help determine distances to nearby galaxies and add to our understanding of explosion physics and chemical enrichment of the Milky Way. I will introduce some of the most common aspects of stellar variability and their significance in astrophysics. I will discuss their common light curves identifiers, and present work by AAVSO observers that has led to cutting-edge scientific discoveries throughout the years. Finally, I will discuss how you can participate in variable star observations from your back yard, contributing to the AAVSO International Database and to cutting-edge science.

Dr. Stella Kafka, is the Director of the AAVSO (American Association of Variable Star Observers). Before her tenure at the AAVSO, Dr Kafka held positions at CTIO, Spitzer Science center/Caltech, Carnegie Institution of Washington/DTM and AIP Publishing. The AAVSO is an international non-profit organization of variable star observers whose mission is to enable anyone, anywhere, to participate in scientific discovery through variable star astronomy.

  

    

Monday, December 31, 2018, 6:30 PM - Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Amateur Telescope Makers of Boston (ATMoB) New Years Eve Party

ATMoB Clubhouse

Westford, MA

Come and see comets this New Year's Eve!
The eating and festivities will start at 6:30 PM Monday evening, and will continue past midnight. Arrive at any time, since there will be 8 opportunities in all to shout "Happy New Year". Noisemakers and cheers will ring out each time the New Year crosses a time zone, starting with Greenwich Mean Time (7 PM local time), and continuing hour after hour through Eastern Standard Time (midnight local time), with a couple of half hour celebrations in between.
Stop by with your family and friends. No RSVP is needed.
Please bring something tasty to share. Entrée type dishes are always very welcome. Folks arrive and leave all evening and the party seems to start again with each new group. There will be plenty of non-alcoholic beverages.
The Clubhouse will be warm and the party is on regardless of the weather. Don't forget your warm observing clothes and boots, and bring a telescope and camera if you like. The club's observatories will be open for observing too.Comets 46P/Wirtanen and 38P/Stephan-Oterma will both be in Lynx on Dec. 31st. Moonrise will be at 2:49 EST the morning of January 1st, so deep sky observing will be lots of fun at the club's observatories.
We will have line dancing led by Julie Kaufmann, and we are hoping to have live music again this year.
Clubhouse vacuuming, setting up tables, and putting up decorations will take place at the Saturday, December 29th Work Party. Help is needed. No experience necessary.
Any party suggestions or questions are welcome, so please email them to Eileen at starleen@charter.net or call at 978-501-6342 (day) or 978-456-3937 (evening).
For one set of directions to the ATMoB Clubhouse in Westford, see the last page of the ATMoB newsletter, or go to www.atmob.org and look for directions to the Clubhouse under About ATMoB. There are, of course, many other routes that may be shorter for you.
Please come and have fun and thank the members of the New Year’s Eve Committee: Eileen Myers, Al Takeda, Julie Kaufmann, John Reed, and ...

   

   

     

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/  

        

            

     

The December Solstice occurs at 5:23 PM EST on December 21st. The Sun reaches its southernmost celestial latitude of the year; this day brings the year’s shortest period of daylight in the Northern Hemisphere and the longest in the Southern Hemisphere. By convention, winter officially begins in the North and summer begins in the South.

    

    

Current Night Sky: December 2018

                                                                                

            Phases of the Moon:

    

New Moon

December 7

2:20 AM EST

First Quarter Moon

December 15

6:49 AM EST

Full Moon

December 22

12:49 PM EST

Last Quarter Moon

December 29

4:34 AM EST

 

                             

    

 

       

Planet Visibility:

    

In Evening (after sunset):

    Saturn, SW

    Mars, in S

    Neptune, in S

    Uranus,  in SE 

         

At Midnight:

    Uranus, in W   

                     

In Morning (before sunrise):

    Venus, in SE

    Mercury, in SE

    Jupiter, in SE 

                         

           

Comets:

 

    Comet 46P Wirtanen reaches its closest distance from the Sun on December 13, and makes a close approach to Earth (7.2 million miles, or 29 lunar-distances) on the 16th. As with all comets, brightness projections are unreliable; however, some estimates place the comet becoming as bright as magnitude 4. This would make it a "naked-eye comet," visible to observers under dark skies.

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Meteors:

       

  •     The Geminid meteor shower peaks on December 14/15. After the waxing crescent Moon sets around midnight, you may see up to 120 meteors per hour under dark skies.
                       

                                                                                      

               

                  
                                                  

                        

        


   
                                                                        Major Astronomical Events: December 2018
               
    

 December 2018

    
Dec. 1 Sat. 8:00 PM EST Venus @ greatest illuminated extent
Dec. 2 Sun. 8:00 PM EST Mars @ east quadrature
Dec. 3 Mon. 12:00 PM EST OSIRIS-REx reaches rendezvous withh asteroid Bennu
Dec. 3 Mon. 4:00 AM EST Moon 7.2° NNE of Spica; 47° from Sun in morning sky
Dec. 3 Mon. 2:00 PM EST Moon 4° N of Venus; 41° from Sun in morning sky
Dec. 4 Tue. 8:13 AM EST Moon 1.5° SSW of Ceres; 33° from Sun in morning sky
Dec. 5 Wed. 4:00 PM EST Moon 1.9° N of Mercury; 17° from Sun in morning sky
Dec. 5 Wed. 5:53 PM EST Earliest end of evening Astronomical Twilight
Dec. 6 Thur. 5:19 PM EST Earliest end of evening Nautical Twilight (4:11:48 PM EST)
Dec. 7 Fri. 2:20 AM EST New Moon
Dec. 7 Fri. 10:00 AM EST Mars 0.04° (2.4') N of Neptune; 88° from Sun, mags. 0.1 & 7.9
Dec. 7 Fri. 12:30 PM EST Chang'e 4 lander/rover launch to Von Karman Crater in SPAB (Farside)
Dec. 8 Sat. 12:00 AM EST Moon 1.1° N of Saturn; 22° from Sun in evening sky
Dec. 8 Sat. 4:43 PM EST Earliest end of evening Civil Twilight
Dec. 9 Sun. 4:11:48 PM EST Earliest sunset of year
Dec. 9 Sun. 11:00 PM EST Moon 0.7° N of Pluto; 32° from Sun in evening sky
Dec 11 Tue.   Annie Jump Cannon born 155 years ago (1863)
Dec. 12 Wed. 7:25 AM EST Moon @ apogee (405,176 km / 251,765 mi)
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. (Excellent.)

Dec. 14 Fri. 9:00 AM EST Moon 3° S of Neptune; 81° from Sun in evening sky
Dec. 14 Fri. 3:00 PM EST Moon, Mars, and Neptune within circle 4.89° in diameter, 83° E of Sun
Dec. 14 Fri. 6:00 PM EST Moon 4° S of Mars; 85° & 86° from Sun in evening sky
Dec. 15 Sat. 6:49 AM EST First Quarter Moon
Dec. 16 Sun. 7:00 AM EST Mercury @ greatest elongation west (21°)
Dec. 16 Sun. 9:57 AM EST Comet 46P/Wirtanen closest (11.5 million km/7.1 million mi/30 LD)
Dec. 17 Mon. 11:00 PM EST Moon 5° S of Uranus; 122° from Sun in evening sky
Dec. 18 Tue. 9:00 AM EST Sun enters Sagittarius
Dec. 19 Wed. 9:00 AM EST Jupiter 5° N of Antares
Dec. 20 Thur. 11:00 AM EST Moon 8.4° SSE of Pleiades; 152° & 151° from Sun in evening sky
Dec. 21 Fri. 2:00 AM EST Moon 1.6° NNW of Aldebaran; 160° from Sun in evening sky

Dec. 21

Fri.

6:58 AM EST - 7:12 AM EST

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

Dec. 21 Fri. 7:51 AM EST 50th Anniversary of Apollo 8 launch (Borman, Lovell, Anders)
Dec. 21 Fri. 10:42 AM EST 50th Anniversary of Apollo 8 TLI
Dec. 21 Fri. 2:53 PM EST Mercury 0.9° N of Jupiter; 20° from Sun in morning sky, mags. -0.4 & 1.0

Dec. 21

Fri.

12:02 PM EST (SCET)

Juno Jupiter orbiter Perijove #17

Dec. 21 Fri. 5:23 PM EST December (Winter) Solstice
Dec. 22 Sat. 7:54 AM EST Mercury 6° N of Antares; 20° & 21° from Sun in morning sky
Dec. 22 Sat. 12:49 PM EST Full Moon ("Full Cold Moon")

Dec. 22

Sat.

4:00 PM EST

Ursid meteors peak (poor)

Dec. 22 Sat. 4:00 PM EST Moon 3.1° S of M35 cluster; 177° & 178° from Sun in midnight sky
Dec. 23 Sun. 2:00 PM EST Jupiter 5.2° N of Antares; 22° from Sun in morning sky
Dec. 23 Sun. 10:00 PM EST Moon 10.6° S of Castor; 161° & 159° from Sun in morning sky
Dec. 24 Mon. 2:00 AM EST Moon 7° S of Pollux; 158° from Sun in morning sky
Dec. 24 Mon. 4:49 AM EST Moon @ perigee (361,061 km / 224,353 mi)
Dec. 24 Mon. 4:59 AM EDT 50th Anniversary of Humans in Lunar Orbit (Apollo 8, 1969)
Dec. 25 Tue. 12:00 AM EST Moon 0.33° S of Beehive Cluster; 146° from Sun in morning sky
Dec. 25 Tue.   New Horizons begins Core Phase
Dec. 26 Wed. 1:00 PM EST Moon 2.4° NNE of Regulus; 125° from Sun in morning sky
Dec. 27 Thur. 5:30 AM EST Venus 3° SSW of Ceres; 47° from Sun in morning sky; mags. -4.5 & 8.9
Dec. 27 Thur. 10:52 PM EST 50th Anniversary of Apollo 8 splashdown
Dec. 29 Sat. 4:34 AM EST Last Quarter Moon
Dec. 30 Sun. 10:00 AM EST Moon 7.3° NNE of Spica; 75° from Sun in morning sky
Dec. 31 Mon.   OSIRIS-REx enters orbit around asteroid Bennu

   


         

     

An Overview of Major Astronomical Events in 2019

 

2019
Jan. 1 Tue. 12:33 AM EST New Horizons @ closest approach: 3,500 km (2,175 miles)

Jan. 1

Tue.

11:53 PM EST

Saturn @ superior conjunction

Jan. 3

Thur.

4:59 AM EST

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

Jan. 3

Thur.

9:28 PM EST

Quadrantid meteors peak. (Poor.)

Jan. 4 Fri. 7:14 AM EST Latest sunrise of year (7:13:48 AM EST)

Jan. 5

Sat.

11:54 PM EST

Venus @ greatest elongation west (47°)

Jan. 7 Mon.   SpaceX Demo-1 unmanned Dragon launch to ISS

Jan. 20

Sun.

11:41 PM EST

Total lunar eclipse begins

Jan. 21 Mon. 12:44 AM EST Total lunar eclipse ends
Jan. 25 Fri.   Dust storm season on Mars ends

Feb. 26

Tue.

10:00 AM EDT

Mercury @ greatest elongation east (18°)

Mar. 3 Sun. 11:00 AM EST 50th Anniversary of Apollo 9 launch

Mar. 10

Sun.

2:00 AM EST / 3:00 AM EDT

Daylight Saving Time begins

Mar. 17

Sun.

6:53 AM EDT - 6:53 PM EDT

Equilux (day and night of equal length)

Mar. 20

Wed.

5:58 PM EDT

March Equinox

Mar. 23 Sat. 7:36 AM EDT Spring Equinox, N. Hemisphere of Mars
Apr. 11 Thur. 3:42 PM EDT Mercury @ greatest elongation west (18°)
Apr. 22 Mon. 8:00 PM EDT Lyrid meteors peak

May 11

Sat.

All day

Astronomy Day (Spring)

May 5

Sun.

9:12 AM EDT

Eta Aquariid meteors peak. (Good.)

May 18 Sat. 12:49 PM EDT 50th  Anniversary of Apollo 10 launch

June 10

Sun.

11:11 AM EDT

Jupiter @ opposition

June 15

Sat.

5:07 AM EDT

Earliest sunrise

June 21

Fri.

11:54 AM EDT

June (Summer) Solstice

June 23 Sun. 7:18 PM EDT Mercury @ greatest elongation east (25.2°)

June 27

Thur.

8:25 PM EDT

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

July 4

Thur.

6:11 PM EDT

Earth @ aphelion (1.017 AU / 152.1 milion km / 94.5 million miles)

July 9

Wed.

612:12 PM EDT

Saturn @ opposition

July 16 Tue. 9:32 AM EDT 50th Anniversary of Apollo 11 launch (Armstrong, Aldrin, Collins)
July 20 Sat. 7:53 AM EDT 43rd Anniversary of first Mars landing (Viking 1, 1976)
July 20 Sat. 4:17 PM EDT 50th Anniversary of first Moon landing (Apollo 11, 1969)
July 20 Sat. 10:56 PM EDT 50th Anniversary of first step on Moon (Neil Armstrong, 1969)
July 21 Sun. 1:54 PM EDT 50th Anniversary of Apollo 11 leaving lunar surface
July 24 Wed. 12:51 PM EDT 50th Anniversary of Apollo 11 splashdown
Aug. 9 Fri. 7:06 PM EDT Mercury @ greatest elongation west (18°)

Aug. 13

Tue.

8:00 AM EDT

Perseid meteors peak. (Very good.)

Sept. 3 Tue. 6:38 PM EDT 43rd Anniversary of Viking 2 Mars landing

Sept. 10

Tue.

2:00 PM EDT

Neptune @ opposition

Sept. 23

Mon.

3:49 AM EDT

September (Fall) Equinox

Sept. 26

Thur.

6:35 AM EDT / 6:36 PM EDT

Equilux (day and night of equal length)

Oct. 5

Sat.

All day

Astronomy Day (Fall)

Oct. 7 Mon. 9:08 PM EDT Summer Solstice, N. Hemisphere of Mars
Oct. 15 Tue.   Launch window for ESA Cheops exoplanet mission opens
Oct. 20 Sun. 12:00 AM EDT Mercury @ greatest elongation east (24.6°)

Oct. 22

Sun.

10:00 AM EDT

Orionid meteors peak. (Poor.)

Oct. 28

Mon.

3:17 AM EDT

Uranus @ opposition

Nov. 3

Sun.

1:00 AM EST / 2:00 AM EDT

Daylight Saving Time ends

Nov. 11 Mon. 7:36 AM EST - 1:04 PM EST Transit of Mercury

Nov. 18

Mon.

12:15 AM EST

Leonid meteors peak. (Poor.)

Nov. 24 Sun. 3:58 PM  EST 50th Anniversary of Apollo 12 Moon Landing
Nov. 29 Thur. 5:30 AM EST Mercury @ greatest elongation west (20.1°)

Dec. 9

Thur.

4:11 PM EST

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

Dec. 14

Sat.

1:25 PM EST

Geminid meteors peak. (Excellent.)

Dec. 21

Sat.

11:19 PM EST

December (Winter) Solstice

Dec. 22

Sun.

10:00 PM EST

Ursid meteors peak (poor)

   

     


   

    Supernova Style Science News  with Ms. Julie Seven Sage

    


                  

December 15, 2018 - 9:00 PM EST