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.





















   

 "Meet the Universe" Course Being Offered This Spring! 

      

   

"Meet the Universe" at the Cambridge Center for Adult Education

     

Spring Session begins March 31, 2015

          

Every day we get new pictures from spacecraft exploring the Moon, Mars, Mercury, Saturn, and a comet! More missions are on the way to an asteroid and to Pluto!
Almost weekly, it seems, exotic planets around other stars are announced, and we’re told it’s just a matter of time until Earth-like, habitable planets are discovered.
In this course, we'll talk about it ALL (literally!): black holes, the cosmic microwave background, and the search for life in the Universe.

  

Bonus: you'll get a chance to use a large telescope at a real Observatory!

  

No math or previous science background required - just an ethusiasm to get to know what's around you!!

     

8 Tuesdays 8:00 – 9:30 PM

   

Runs March 31 - May 19, 2015.

      


 

            

March Astronomy-Related Events in the Boston Area 

             

  •          

          

  • Monday, March 2nd, at 6:00 PM - 10:00 PM. (Cloud dates: March 3rd or 4th)

    Annual Acton Star Party

    Parker Damon School Building, Acton, MA

    In Acton and neighboring Boxboro, Astronomy is introduced at the 4th Grade level. The Acton Star Party is designed specifically for these young minds. Telescopes or binoculars are outside looking at all the different celestial "sky-lites". Inside, many activities are planned to help bring the outdoor science within easy reach. Close to 400 students and their parents (750+ participants in all) will be attending! It should prove to be quite a party.

        

         

    Thursday, March 12th, 2015, at 8:00 PM.

    Amateur Telescope Makers of Boston (Boston area’s largest and oldest astronomy club).

    (Meets every 2nd Thursday except August).

    Topic and Presenter: TBA.

             
                         
     Thursday, March 19th, 2015, at 7:30 PM.

    Monthly Observatory Night

    (Free lecture and observing every 3rd Thursday except June, July, and August – and sometimes December).

    Topic and Presenter: Mapping the Universe, Daniel Eisenstein

    Galaxies are not scattered randomly throughout the universe. Instead, they group into stringy filaments that span hundreds of millions of light-years. How did such structure evolve from the bland primordial soup that followed the Big Bang? New clues are coming from an ambitious mapping project, the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, which has measured the distance to galaxies halfway across the observable universe. Daniel Eisenstein is director of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey III (SDSS-III) and a member of the National Academy of Sciences.

     
              

    Plus:  

      

    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 month):   

    Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics

    Cambridge, MA.   

    Public Observatory Night 8;30 PM - 10:00 PM. 

    617-495-7461

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

      

    Fridays (beginning March 6): 

    Museum of Science  

    Boston, MA 

    "Astronomy after Hours" public viewing at Guilliland Observatory 8:30 PM - 10:00 PM.

    617-589-0267 

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

       

     

    The Sky Report for the Month of March 2015

         

         

    Daylight Saving Time begins at 2:00 AM on Sunday, March 8, for most areas of the U.S. and Canada. In accordance with the adage, “spring forward, fall back”, move your clocks ahead one hour; the minute after 1:59 AM begins as 3:00 AM.

          

    There is a Total Solar Eclipse on March 20; the path of totality moves across the North Atlantic and Arctic Oceans; outside of this zone, viewers in much of Europe will observe a partial solar eclipse.

       

    The March Equinox occurs at 6:45 PM EDT on March 20. This represents the instant the Sun crosses the celestial equator on its way north. By convention, it is considered the beginning of spring in the northern hemisphere and of fall in the southern hemisphere.

          

             

        
    Current Night Sky: At A Glance

          

    Phases of the Moon:

          

    Full Moon

    March 5

    1:05 PM EST

    Last Quarter Moon

    March 13

    1:48 PM EDT

    New Moon

    March 20

    5:36 AM EDT

    First Quarter

    March 27

    3:43 AM EDT

        

                      

    The Moon & Planets:

      

     

    Planet Visibility:

        

    In Evening (after sunset):

         Uranus, in W

         Mars, in W    

        Venus, in W

        Jupiter, in SE

     

     At Midnight:

        Jupiter, in SW

     

     In Morning (before sunrise):

        Saturn, in S

        Mercury, in SE

        Neptune, in E 

     

    Comets:

    •    
      •     Comet C/2014 Q2 (Lovejoy) is fading more slowly than predicted, as it climbs higher into the Northern Hemisphere sky. It spends the month in Cassiopeia, and should fade to magnitude 6 or lower -  below naked-eye visibility  - in early March. (See chart below for its position at midmonth.)
      •    

    Meteors:

     

        There no major meteor showers in March.

      
      

            
     

    Jupiter at its Best

           .

                
                    

    Jupiter's moon Io occults - or covers up - the moon Ganymede.

    Because Ganymede is the larger of the two, Io's disk appears completely inside that of Ganymede. Another moon, Callisto, appears to the right of the pair.

    (March 5, 2015 - 11:54 PM EST).

        
         
                   
     
    Jupiter with three of its satellites. Nearest to the planet is Ganymede.
    To the right, two satellites - Io and Callisto,- are passing within 3 arc-seconds of each other.
    (March 6, 2015 - 12:50 AM EST).

          
     

         

               

         A Cosmic Visitor Recedes

          

     

            

           By mid-month, Comet Lovejoy will be making its way through Cassiopeia.

    By May, it will be close to Polaris – the North Star.

    (March 14, 2015 - 1:15 AM EDT).

        

            
          
      A Gathering at Dusk
           
                       

           

    The Moon and Venus pass within 3° of each other after sunset on the 22nd.

    The dark portion of the Moon is lit by earthshine - the reflection of sunlight from Earth's disk.

    (March 22, 2015 - 8:00 PM EDT)

          
                                             


    A Schedule of Events: March 2015

        

    Mar. 2 Mon. 11:06 PM EST - 11:11 PM EST Ganymede occults Io (60% magnitude drop)
    Mar. 3 Tue. 3:00 AM EST Moon 5° S of Jupiter
    Mar. 4 Wed. 2:00 PM EST Venus, Mars, and Uranus within circle 4.87° across
    Mar. 4 Wed. 3:00 PM EST Venus 5.4' NNE of Uranus (closest conjunction of year)
    Mar. 5 Thur. 2:33 AM EST Moon @ apogee (406,385 km / 252,516 mi)
    Mar. 5 Thur. 1:05 PM EST Full Moon ("Full Worm Moon")
    Mar. 5 Thur. 11:50 PM EST - 11:58 PM EST Io occults Ganymede
    Mar. 6 Fri. 1:30 AM EST Dawn spacecraft captured into orbit around Ceres
    Mar. 7 Sat.   Sun's North Pole most inclined (7.25°) away from Earth
    Mar. 8 Sun. 1:15 AM EST - 1:21 AM EST Europa occults Io (50% magnitude drop)
    Mar. 8 Sun. 2:00 AM EDT Daylight Saving Time begins
    Mar. 10 Wed. 2:31 AM EDT - 2:36 AM EDT Ganymede occults Io (60% magnitude drop)
    Mar. 11 Wed. 4:00 PM EDT Mars 0.3° NNW of Uranus
    Mar. 12 Thur. 4:00 AM EDT Moon 2° NNW of Saturn
    Mar. 12 Thur. 6:00 AM EDT Sun enter Pisces
    Mar. 13 Fri.   Percival Lowell's birthday (1855)
    Mar. 13 Fri. 6:09 AM EDT - 6:15 AM EDT Bright ISS pass (magnitude -3.3)
    Mar. 13 Fri. 1:48 PM EDT Last Quarter Moon
    Mar. 14 Sat.   Albert Einstein's birthday (1879)
    Mar. 14 Sat. 5:19 AM EDT - 5:22 AM EDT Bright ISS pass (magnitude -3.3)
    Mar. 14 Sat. 9:26:53 AM EDT Pi Day (3/14/15)
    Mar. 15 Sun. 8:34 PM EDT - 8:44 PM EDT Callisto occults Europa (80% magnitude drop)
    Mar. 19 Thur. 1:00 AM EDT Moon 5° NNW of Mercury
    Mar. 19 Thur. 3:38 PM EDT Moon @ perigee (357,583 km / 222,192 mi)
    Mar. 20 Fri. 5:13 AM EDT - 6:18 AM EDT Total Solar Eclipse (N. Atlantic, Arctic Ocean)
    Mar. 20 Fri. 5:36 AM EDT New Moon
    Mar. 20 Fri. 6:45 PM EDT March Equinox - Spring begins!
    Mar. 21   7:00 AM EDT Moon 0.1° WNW of Uranus
    Mar. 21 Sat. 6:00 PM EDT Moon 1° SSE of Mars
    Mar. 22 Fri. 4:00 PM EDT Moon 3° SSE of Venus
    Mar. 27 Fri. 3:43 AM EDT First  Quarter Moon
    Mar. 28 Sat. 5:41 AM EDT - 5:48 AM EDT Bright ISS pass (magnitude -3.3)
    Mar. 30 Mon. 6:00 AM EDT Moon 5° SSW of Jupiter

            

       * bold = cool or important!

      

     


        
    A Preview of 2015 Events
     
    Apr. 6 Uranus @ solar conjunction
    Apr. 22 -  23 Lyrid meteors peak (good)
    Apr. 23 Mercury 2° to upper right of Mars
    Apr. 25 National Astronomy Day (spring)
    May 5 - 6 Eta Aquarid meteors peak
    May 7 Mercury @ greatest elongation east (evening "star"); excellent
    May 23 Saturn @ opposition
    Jun. 6 Venus @ greatest elongation east (evening "star"); excellent
    Jun. 14 Mars @ solar conjunction
    Jun. 14 Earliest sunrise (5:07 AM EDT)
    Jun. 21 June Solstice
    Jun. 24 Mercury @ greatest elongation west (morning "star")
    Jun. 27 Latest sunset (8:25 PM EDT)
    July 1 Venus 30' to lower left of Jupiter (daytime best!); both disks are 32.5" across!
    July 6 Earth @ aphelion
    July 6 Pluto @ opposition
    July 12 Venus @ greatest brilliancy
    July 14 New Horizons Closest Approach to Pluto
    July 25 Ceres @ opposition
    July 28 - 29 Delta Aquarid meteors peak (poor)
    Aug. 12 - 13 Perseid meteors peak (excellent)
    Aug. 13 Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko (and Rosetta!) @ perihelion
    Aug. 15 Venus @ inferior conjunction
    Aug. 26 Jupiter @ solar conjunction
    Sept. 1 Neptune @ opposition
    Sept. 4 Mercury @ greatest elongation east (evening "star")
    Sept. 4 Moon occults Aldebaran
    Sept. 13 Partial Solar Eclipse
    Sept. 19 National Astronomy Day (fall)
    Sept. 20 Venus @ greatest brilliancy
    Sept. 22 September Equinox
    Sept. 28 Total Lunar Eclipse (both sides of the Atlantic)
    Oct. 8 - 9 Draconid meteors peak (poor)
    Oct. 11 Uranus @ opposition
    Oct. 16 Mercury @ greatest elongation west (morning "star")
    Oct. 17 Mars 27' to upper left of Jupiter
    Oct. 21 - 22 Orionid meteors peak (excellent)
    Oct. 26 Venus @ greatest elongation west (morning "star")
    Oct. 26 Venus 1.1° to lower right of Jupiter, 3° to upper right of Mars
    Nov. 3 Venus 40' to lower right of Mars
    Nov. 5 - 6 S. Taurid meteors peak (poor)
    Nov. 12 N. Taurid meteors peak
    Nov. 17 - 18 Leonid meteors peak (excellent)
    Nov. 26 Moon occults Aldebaran
    Nov. 30 Saturn @ solar conjunction
    Dec. 7 Waning crescent Moon occults Venus (daytime event)
    Dec. 8 - 9 Earliest sunset (4:12 PM)
    Dec. 13 - 14 Geminid meteors peak (excellent)
    Dec. 21 December Solstice
    Dec. 22 - 23 Ursid meteors peak (poor)
    Dec. 29 Mercury @ greatest elongation east (evening "star")
       
     
       
                        
    March 2015 Star Chart
          
     
       
           March 15, 2015, 9:00 PM EDT