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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.













 



 


 

 November / December Astronomy-Related Events in the Boston Area   

   

  

  

Monday, November 3, 2014: 6:30 PM 8:30 PM.

Francis Kane School star party

520 Farm Road, Marlborough, MA

This school is located just south of RT 20 (near the Marlborough airport also off of Farm Road).  It is also just east of RT 85.

Contact person w/cell number: Andrea Morton, 508-523-1781

Number of attendees: 125
Grade level    4
Power available: no
Snacks served
Parking adjacent to telescopes: yes

  

  

Thursday, November 13th, 2014, 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: Variable Star Observing

Dr. Arne Henden

While taking deep-sky images or observing double stars through the eyepiece can be fulfilling, the universe is dynamic and constantly changing - never more obviously seen than with variable stars.  These come in many flavors, from stars with easily-visible variations in a few minutes, to slowly evolving stars where variations take many lifetimes.  The AAVSO monitors all variability, and is a great resource if you want to do something different with your telescope.  I'll talk about some of the exotic things Up There, how easy it is to get involved, and give you some resources for further information.

Arne Henden is the Director of the American Association of Variable Star Observers.  He received his PhD from Indiana University in 1985, and has since led a career as a research scientist and instrument developer.  At the AAVSO, he has modernized the data collection methods, developed the AAVSOnet robotic telescope network, and led the APASS all-sky photometric calibration project.

 

       

Tuesday, November 18, 2014 (cloud date: Wednesday, November 19th): 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM.

Wilson Middle School star party

22 Rutledge Road, Natick, MA

Number of attendees: 100-150

Contact person: Sheila Pogarian - (508) 785-5586

Grade level: 8th grade with their familes

Power: yes

Parking next to telescopes: yes.

  

  

Thursday, November 20th, 2014, at 7:30 PM.

Monthly Observatory Night

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

Topic and Presenters: "Starlight Detectives"

Alan Hirshfeld

"Starlight Detectives is just the sort of richly veined book I love to read - full of scientific history and discoveries, peopled by real heroes and rogues, and told with absolute authority. Alan Hirshfeld's wide, deep knowledge of astronomy arises not only from the most careful scholarship, but also from the years he's spent at the telescope, posing his own questions to the stars." - Dava Sobel, author of A More Perfect Heaven and Longitude

  

   

Monday, December 1st, at 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM. (Cloud date: December 2nd.) Set up at 6:00 PM.

Lexington Christian Academy Star Party

48 Bartlett Avenue, Lexington, MA 02420
Contact person w/cell number:  Kathy Oliver 978-866-7158
School Phone: 781-862-7850
Number of attendees: 125-150
Grade level 7-8
Power available: yes
Parking adjacent to telescopes: yes
Refreshments for volunteers.

   

    

Thursday, December 4th, 2014, 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: The Case of the Mysterious X-rays from Space

Esra Bulbul

 

While researchers celebrated the Chandra X-ray Observatory's 15 years of operation this past June, they were also puzzled by its latest finding: a mysterious X-ray signal radiating from the Perseus galaxy cluster. Could this be the signature of "sterile" neutrinos and partially explain dark matter? Now that's a good question!

 

   

Thursday, December 11th, 2014, 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.

   

    

Wednesday, December 31st, 2014, 6:00 PM - ???.

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

(Meets every 2nd Thursday except August).

New Years Eve Party!

Westford Clubhouse

Eating and other festivities will start at 6:30 PM on Wednesday, December 31st and will continue past midnight. Arrive at any time since there will be 8 opportunities in all to welcome 2015 and shout "Happy New Year" as the New Year crosses the time zones, starting with Greenwich Mean Time (7PM 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 - an RSVP is not needed. Please bring something tasty to share. Entrée type dishes are always very welcome since 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. There will be a 9-day-old Moon, but there will be planetary and deep sky gazing depending on the weather. We will also have dancing and hopefully live music again this year. and door prizes for all, so do join us to welcome in 2015 together. 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 at www.atmob.org and click on ATMoB Club House at the bottom of the Home page. There are of course many other routes that may be shorter for you.

  

  

     

Plus:

  

Wednesdays:

Boston University

Boston, MA.
Open Night at Coit Observatory most Wednesdays 8:30 PM - 9:30 PM. 
http://www.bu.edu/astronomy/events/public-open-night-at-the-observatory/

 

  

 


 

The Sky Report for the Month of November 2014

 

 

Current Night Sky: At A Glance

 

Phases of the Moon:

 

Full Moon

November 6

5:23 PM EST

Last Quarter Moon

November 14

10:16 AM EST

New Moon

November 22

7:32 AM EST

First Quarter

November 29

5:06 AM EST

    

      

The Moon & Planets:

  

  

The Moon & Planets:

    

         

November 1, 2014 - 6:30 AM EDT; looking ESE

In the pre-dawn sky of November 1st, Mercury is at its greatest elongation from the Sun. This is the best morning appearance of the planet of the year

for observers in the Northern Hemisphere. 

  

  

November 14, 2014 - 12:00 AM EST; looking E.

At midnight on November 14th, the Last Quarter Moon lies 7° to the right of Jupiter.

  

  

November 26, 2014 - 6:00 PM EST; looking SW

In the evening sky on the 26th, a waxing crescent Moon lies 10° above Mars.

   

  

    

Evening Planets (after sunset):

  • Mars, in SW
  • Neptune, in S
  • Uranus, in SE

     

Planets at midnight:

Neptune, in W

Uranus, in SW

Jupiter, in E

   

Morning Planets (before sunrise):

  • Uranus, in W
  • Jupiter, in S
  • Mercury, in E

  

  

Comets:

 

  •            There are no comets visible brighter than magnitude 8.

  

Meteors:

  

           The Leonid meteor shower peaks on the 17th. See “What’s New” for more.

   

   


  •   

A Schedule of Events: November / December, 2014

 

  • Nov. 1 Sat. 9:00 AM EDT Mercury @ greatest elongation (19° W of Sun)
    Nov. 1 Sat. 8:00 PM EDT Moon 4° NNW of Neptune
    Nov. 2 Sun. 2:00 AM EDT Switch from EDT to EST
    Nov. 2 Sun. 7:29 PM EST Moon @ perigee (57.68 Earth-radii)
    Nov. 4 Tue. 1:00 PM EST Moon 2° NNE of Uranus
    Nov. 5 Wed. 12:00 PM EST S. Taurid meteors peak
    Nov. 6 Thur. 5:23 PM EST Full Moon ("Full Beaver Moon")
    Nov. 9 Sun.   Carl Sagan's 80th Birthday
    Nov. 11 Tue. 5:27 AM EST One of 2 brightest passes of ISS this month (-3.4)
    Nov. 12 Wed. 11:00 AM EST N. Taurid meteors peak
    Nov. 12 Wed. 11:03 AM EST ESA Philae lands on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko
    Nov. 14 Fri. 10:16 AM EST Last Quarter Moon
    Nov. 14 Fri. 1:00 PM EST Moon 5° SSW of Jupiter
    Nov. 14 Fri. 8:59 PM EST Moon @ apogee (63.39 Earth-radii)
    Nov. 17 Mon. 5:00 PM  EST Leonid meteor shower peaks
    Nov. 18 Tue. 4:00 AM EST Saturn @ solar conjunction
    Nov. 20 Thur.   Edwin Hubble's 125th Birthday
    Nov. 20 Thur. 1:56 AM EST Asteroid Juno occults 7.4 magnitude star HIP 43357
    Nov. 22 Sat. 7:32 AM EST New Moon
    Nov. 23 Sun. 6:00 AM EST Sun enters Scorpius
    Nov. 24 Mon. 6:08 AM EST One of 2 brightest passes of ISS this month (-3.3)
    Nov. 26 Wed. 5:00 AM EST Moon 7° N of Mars
    Nov. 27 Thur. 6:12 PM EST Moon @ perigee (57.99 Earth-radii) - farthest of 2014
    Nov. 28 Fri.   50th Anniversary of Mariner 4 launch (first probe to Mars)
    Nov. 29 Sat. 12:00 AM EST Moon 4° NNW of Neptune
    Nov. 29 Sat. 5:06 AM EST First Quarter Moon
    Nov. 29 Sat. 11:23 PM EST Launch of Japanese Hayabusa 2 Sample Return Mission
    Nov. 30 Sun. 2:00 AM EST Sun enters Ophiuchus
    Dec. 1 Mon. 6:00 PM EST Moon 0.5° NNW of Uranus
    Dec. 4 Thur. 7:05 AM EST Orion Delta 4H launch (Exploration Flight Test 1)
    Dec. 4 Thur. 11:29 AM EST Orion Delta 4H splashdown (Exploration Flight Test 1)
    Dec. 5 Fri. 5:53 PM EST Earliest end of Astronomical Twilight
    Dec. 5 Fri. 10:00 PM EST Moon 1.7° NW of Aldebaran
    Dec. 6 Sat.   New Horizons Pluto probe wakes up from hibernation
    Dec. 6 Sat. 7:27 AM EST Full Moon ("Full Cold Moon")
    Dec. 6 Sat. 5:19 PM EST Earliest end of Nautical Twilight
    Dec. 7 Sun. 4:43 PM EST Earliest end of Civil Twilight
    Dec. 8 Mon. 4:11:41 PM EST Earliest sunset of year
    Dec. 11 Thur. 8:00 PM EST Moon 4.9° SSW of Jupiter
    Dec. 12 Fri. 4:00 AM EST Mars @ perihelion (1.3812 AU)
    Dec. 12 Fri. 6:00 PM EST Moon @ apogee (63.44 Earth-radii)
    Dec. 14 Sun. 7:00 AM EST Geminid meteors peak
    Dec. 14 Sun. 7:51 AM EST Last Quarter Moon
    Dec. 18 Thur. 8:00 AM EST Sun enter Sagittarius
    Dec. 19 Fri. 4:00 PM EST Moon 1.5° N of Saturn
    Dec. 21 Sun. 6:03 PM EST December Solstice
    Dec. 21 Sun. 8:36 PM EST New Moon
    Dec. 22 Mon. 3:25 PM EST Ursid meteors peak
    Dec. 24 Wed. 11:42 AM EST Moon @ perigee (57.19 Earth-radii)
    Dec. 24 Wed. 5:43 PM EST Brightest ISS pass this month (magnitude -3.4)
    Dec. 25 Thur. 12:00 AM EST Moon 5.5° NNW of Mars
    Dec. 28 Sun. 1:31 PM EST First Quarter Moon
    Dec. 29 Mon. 12:00 AM EST Moon 1.3° WNW of Uranus
    Dec. 30 Tue. 2:25 AM EST Venus 3.6° N of Mercury
  •   

  • Bold Type = Important or Way Cool

  •  

  • * = approximate                          

  •  


  •    

    A Prieview of 2015 Events

  •     

    Jan. 3 - 4 Quadrantid meteors peak (poor)
    Jan. 3 Earth @ perihelion
    Jan. 11 Venus 40' to upper left of Mercury in evening sky
    Jan. 14 Mercury @ greatest elongation east (evening "star")
    Jan. 19 Mars 13' to lower left of Neptune
    Jan. 24 Triple shadow transit on Jupiter
    Feb. 1 Venus 48' to left of Neptune
    Feb. Dawn orbiter at Ceres
    Feb. 6 Jupiter @ opposition
    Feb. 21 Crescent Moon occults Uranus
    Feb. 22 Venus 0.5° to upper left of Mars in evening sky
    Feb. 24 Mercury @ greatest elongation west (morning "star")
    Feb. 26 Neptune @ solar conjunction
    Mar. 4 Venus 10' above Uranus in evening sky
    Mar. 11 Mars 25' to upper right of Uranus
    Mar. 20 Total Solar Eclipse
    Mar. 20 March Equinox
    Apr. 6 Uranus @ solar conjunction
    Apr. 22 -  23 Lyrid meteors peak (good)
    Apr. 23 Mercury 2° to upper right of Mars
    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. 21 June Solstice
    Jun. 24 Mercury @ greatest elongation west (morning "star")
    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 9 ESA BepiColombo Mercury orbiter launch
    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. 13 Partial Solar Eclipse
    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. 30 Saturn @ solar conjunction
    Dec. 7 Waning crescent Moon occults Venus (daytime event)
    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")

      

   
  

The Leonid meteor shower peaks on the 17th – 18th.  The Leonids are named after the constellation which hosts their radiant: Leo. That doesn’t mean that the Leonids appear only in Leo. In fact, few do; they can be seen anywhere in the sky.  But if you trace their trajectory backwards, their trails appear to radiate from an area in Leo (hence the term “radiant”). Leo rises about midnight (see diagram below.)



November 17, 2014 : 2:20 AM EST

The Leonids appear to come from a “radiant” in the constellation Leo, which rises in the east around midnight; note the crescent Moon and Jupiter nearby.

   

Meteors are mostly sand-grained size particles of stone and iron debris left behind in space by passing comets. In the case of the Leonids, the debris was left by a previous passage of the comet 55P/Tempel-Tuttle. Every November, Earth passes through the debris cloud, and these particles burn up as they enter the Earth’s atmosphere at over 40 miles per second at altitudes of 50-70 miles.

  

Meteors are most numerous and brightest between midnight and dawn, when the “forward facing” portion of Earth’s night hemisphere is plowing through the debris cloud. On some years, the Moon may be bright enough to swamp out the fainter meteors. On the 17th and 18th of this month, the Moon rises in the East about 2:30 AM and 3:30 AM, respectively – prime viewing time for the Leonids, and lies only 30 to 40 degrees from their radiant. However, the Moon will be a narrow waning crescent, and unlikely to spoil the show.

 

The intensity of meteor showers is difficult to predict, but this year’s shower is expected to produce rates of 12-15 meteors per hour under dark sky viewing conditions. In the past, though, the Leonids have been considerably more active. In the year 1833, a meteor “storm” occurred that was estimated to produce over 100,000 meteors per hour! (see the woodcuts below.)

 

In 1833, the Leonids produced a “meteor storm” of over 100,000 meteors per hour!

 

More recent meteor storms occurred in 1866, 1867, and 1868. During the last century, 1966 and the period from 1998 to 2000 produced high levels of activity. Can we be sure we won’t have a strong shower this year? Why not watch the skies and find out?

 

  •         


   

November Star Chart

       

   

Star Chart

November 15, 2014

      9:00 PM EST

Looking at Zenith, South at Bottom

    

There are no naked-eye planets visible in the evening; Uranus and Neptune require binoculars or – better yet, a telescope. Unless you have a “Go-To” scope, you will probably need star charts to find them. (A good location providing such charts is on Sky&Telescope’s website at:

 http://www.skyandtelescope.com/astronomy-news/observing-news/uranus-and-neptune-in-2014).

The Summer Triangle – Vega, Altair, and Deneb – is sinking low inthe west, while the brilliant stars of winter are making their appearance in the east.

  

           


* Text, graphics, and animations by John Sheff. Graphics courtesy of Starry Night Pro Plus 7 / Imaginova Corp. Starry Night images are used with permission from Imaginova Corp.