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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.




Next Astronomy Course


Introduction to Astronomy


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 19 -  November 7, 2017, 7:45 PM - 9:15 PM.





Supernova Style Science News

 with Ms. Julie Seven Sage


I would like to give a big shout-out to Ms. Julie Seven Sage. She is a 12-year old aspiring astrophysicist; did I say "aspiring"? I think she's most of the way there!


She has an unquenchable thirst for all new things in science - not just astronomy, but physics, biology, paleontology, materials science, and, as she puts it, "the people of science". She has been producing, with  the help of her parents, professional-quality videos discussing the latest news and developments in science and engineering. Julie is an amazing, enthusiastic young woman who will go far!


I cannot recommend strongly enough her videos and news clip updates.  Please visit her sites and see for yourselves: 




YouTube: Supernova Style Science News


She is also on Twitter, instagram, and Facebook.




News Email:





June Astronomy-Related Events in the Boston Area  



Saturday, June 3, 2017, 8:00 PM

Arlington Astronomy Nights

Robbins Farm Park

Arlington, MA

Jupiter is high in the sky at dusk, and tonight it has a dancing partner as it moves across the sky. A waxing gibbous Moon (one that is more than half full and growing larger) hangs just about 2º above Jupiter. 



Thursday, June 8, 2017, 8:00 PM - 10 PM

Amateur Telescope Makers of Boston (ATMoB) Monthly Meeting

Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics

60 Garden St.

Cambridge, MA 02138

Topic and Speaker: "The Lowell Observatory: Past, Present, and Future", W. Lowell Putnam
Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona, founded in 1894 by American astronomer Percival Lowell, is one of the oldest observatories in the United States. It was here in 1930 that astronomer Clyde Tombaugh discovered the dwarf planet Pluto. W. Lowell Putnam, great-grandnephew of Percival Lowell, will talk about the history of the Observatory and the current range of fields studied (extensive). His presentation will include an interview with a Lowell Observatory researcher who gives her answer to “Why be an Astronomer?” and talks of her specialty (Irregular Dwarf Galaxies), plus videos of Mars and Pluto flyovers to discuss planetary studies.  He concludes with a discussion of current research that is just underway in the area of exo-planets.
W. Lowell Putnam is serving as the 5th Sole Trustee of Lowell Observatory, having succeeded his father, Bill, in 2013. Putnam also serves as one of seven members of the Board of Trustees of the Lowell Observatory FoundationIn 1984, Putnam founded Video Communications, Inc. (VCI), a software company specializing in business systems for TV networks, cable channels and local TV Stations. Clients included The Weather Channel, Comcast, Univision and about 25% of the TV stations in the US and Canada. In 2010, Putnam sold the company and became the Trust Administrator for the observatory. He is currently director of PeopleHedge, which is a Boston-based firm dealing in currency exchange. Putnam holds a B.S. in Psychology from American International College in Massachusetts and is a Life Member of the American Alpine Club and The Nature Conservancy.



Saturday, June 17, 2017, and Saturday, June 24, 2017, sunset (8:25 PM)

South Shore Astronomical Society Observing Night

Centennial Field

Pine Street 

Norwell, MA  

Observing Nights are our usual viewing nights.However, we do not guarantee that members will actually beviewing on this date, as cloud cover, other weather conditionsand other personal commitments might preclude members from attending.We will make an effort to post notice on the home web page if an event is canceled.
Wednesday, June 21, 5:00 PM - 9P:00 PM
Summer Solstice Celebration
Harvard University
Science Center Plaza
26 Oxford Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
Telescope volunteers for summer solstice celebration organized by the Harvard Museum of Science and Culture. Parking, food, beverages, t-shirts provided to telescope vollunteers.


Saturday, June 24, 2017, 8:45 PM

Arlington Astronomy Nights

Robbins Farm Park

Arlington, MA

Jupiter has moved further West, but is still prominent in the early evening sky. As the sky darkens, Jupiter is joined by Saturn rising in the East. A moonless night keeps the sky as dark as we can get for Arlington. We'll try to set our sights on some "deep sky" objects like star clusters.




Plus (ongoing):        



Boston University

Boston, MA.
Open Night at Coit Observatory most Wednesdays 8:30 PM - 9:30 PM. 




Fridays (startng March 3rd!), 8:30 PM

Guilliland Observatory

Museum of Science

1 Science Park

Boston, MA 02114





The Sky Report for the Month of June 2017


Current Night Sky: At A Glance


            Phases of the Moon:                           


First Quarter Moon

June 1

8:42 AM EDT 

Full Moon

June 9

9:10 AM EDT

Last Quarter Moon

June 17

7:33 AM EDT

New Moon

June 23

10:31 PM EDT

First Quarter Moon

June 30

8:51 PM EDT



The Moon & Planets:



Planet Visibility:


In Evening (after sunset):

    Mars, in NW 

    Jupiter, in SW

    Saturn, in SE 


 At Midnight:

    Jupiter, in SW

    Saturn, in S


 In Morning (before sunrise):

    Saturn, in SW

    Neptune, in SE

    Venus, in E

    Uranus, in E

    Mercury, in E 





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


    •     There no significant meteor showers in June.






Venus and Mercury are “interior” planets; from our point of view, they closely hug the Sun.

On June 3rd, Venus reaches “greatest western elongation”; it is at its greatest angular distance (46°) from the Sun.

It rises in the east two hours before sunrise.

(June 3, 2017, 4:30 AM EDT).






On June 15, Saturn reaches opposition. Being directly opposite to the Sun, it rises at sunset and sets at sunrise, and hence is visible all night.

It is also at its closest to Earth – about 860 million miles distant. This year the rings are tilted toward us by 27° - nearly the maximum possible.

Any telescope will show some details of the rings: the outer A ring and the brighter B ring are separated by the narrow Cassini Division.

 In this view, some of the planet’s moons are visible; left to right, they are Dione, Enceladus, Tethys, and Rhea.

All of them – as well as the largest moon, Titan - are visible in amateur telescopes of modest size.

(June 15, 2017, 1:00 AM EDT).






This view illustrates how a portion of the Earth would appear as seen from the center of the Sun at the June 21 solstice.

Note that the portion of the planet north of the Equator (the red latitude line seen crossing over the Amazon region of South America) is more directly exposed to sunlight. The more intense heating brings about summer in the Northern Hemisphere.

The South, meanwhile, gets less exposed to direct sunlight and begins to experience winter.

 (June 21st, 2017)



 The Star of the Fair   


Let’s begin a journey.


Perhaps the most recognizable pattern in the sky is the Big Dipper. Throughout the seasons it forever circles the North Celestial Pole, and from mid-Northern latitudes, it is visible all night. The two stars on the end of the “Bowl”, Merak and Dubhe, are known as the “Pointer Stars”; a line extended through them by about five times their separation leads us to Polaris, the North Star.


But the Dipper can be used as a landmark to navigate to other destinations in the sky as well. A common refrain among amateur astronomers is “Arc to Acturus” (to which is sometimes appended “… and spike on to Spica”.) If you follow the arc of the three stars of the Big Dipper’s handle and extend it, you’ll come to a bright star that, on June evenings, lies to the south and about two thirds of the way up from the horizon to the zenith: Arcturus.




Actually, Arcturus is not that hard to find. Aside from the Sun, it is the fourth brightest star in the entire sky. And from mid-Northern latitudes and at this time of year, the other three stars are not visible at all, making Arcurus the most brilliant star in our skies (though Vega is only marginally dimmer). But don’t confuse Arcturus with Jupiter, about 30° to the lower right of Arcturus and about 6 times brighter; Jupiter, as a planet, doesn’t count.


Arcturus is a red giant star – a good deal older than the Sun. It’s mass may be only slightly larger than the Sun’s, but the star has used up the hydrogen fuel in its core; as a result, thermonuclear reactions have begun to spread outward from the core in a spherical shell into regions where hydrogen is still available. The result is that the star itself has swollen to a diameter about 25 times that of the Sun. It gives off 200 times the energy of the Sun, but due to its much larger surface area, it’s surface temperature is only about 4,290 K, and it glows orange-red. The much smaller Sun has a surface temperature of 5,778 K, with a peak energy emission in the yellow-green part of the spectrum.




Arcturus lies about 37 light-years away. That particular distance has led it to play a curious role in recent human history.


In 1933, the city of Chicago was planning to hold a World’s Fair, with the theme of highlighting the advances made possible by science. The event was to be 40 years after the city hosted its first major extravaganza, the World’s Columbia Exposition, in 1893.


At the time, Arcturus was thought to be 40 light-years away. What better way to open the World’s Fair, it was suggested, than by detecting the light from Arcturus, which would have left the star 40 years earlier - just as the Exposition was gettng under way. And, indeed, light from Arcturus was fed into a newly-invented device: the photocell. Current flowing through the cell flipped relays which turned on the lights to the 1933 Fair. The idea was a resounding success.


And it is, perhaps, an example of yet another way we are connected to the stars.


A Schedule of Events -  June / July 2017


June 1 Thur. 8:42 AM EDT First Quarter Moon
June 2 Fri. 11:00 AM EDT Venus 1.8° S of Uranus
June 3 Sat. 9:00 AM EDT Venus @ greatest elongation (46° W of Sun)
June 3 Sat. 8:00 PM EDT Moon 2° N of Jupiter
June 3 / 4 Sat. / Sun. 10:21 PM EDT - 12:21 AM EDT Double Shadow Transit on Jupiter (Io, Ganymede)
June 4 Sun. 2:00 AM EDT Venus @ theoretical dichotomy (half-phase as seen from Earth)
June 5 Mon. 8:00 PM EDT Ceres @ solar conjunction
June 8 Thur. 6:21 PM EDT Moon @ apogee (406,401 km / 252,526 mi)
June 9 Fri. 9:10 AM EDT Full Moon ("Full Strawberry Moon") (smallest Full Moon of 2017)
June 9 Fri. 9:00 PM EDT Moon 3° N of Saturn
June 14 Wed. 5:06:59 AM EDT Earliest Sunrise
June 15 Fri. 4:32 AM EDT Earliest beginning of morning Civil Twilight
June 15 Thur. 6:18 AM EDT Saturn @ opposition
June 15 Thur. 10:06 AM EDT Saturn @ closest approach (9.043 AU / 1,352,813,810 km / 840,599,530 mi)
June 16 Fri. 9:00 AM EDT Moon 0.7° S of Neptune
June 17 Sat. 3:47 AM EDT Earliest beginning of morning Nautical Twilight
June 17 Sat. 7:33 AM EDT Last Quarter Moon
June 18 Sun. 2:52 AM EDT Earliest beginning of morning Astronomical Twilight
June 19 Mon. 12:00 PM EDT Moon 4° S of Uranus
June 19 Mon. 10:04 PM EDT - 10:37 PM EDT Double Shadow Transit on Jupiter (Io, Europa)
June 20 Tue. 5:00 PM EDT Moon 2° S of Venus
June 21 Wed. 12:24 AM EDT Summer Solstice
June 21 Wed. 10:00 AM EDT Mercury @ superior conjunction
June 21 Wed. 11:00 AM EDT Sun enters Gemini
June 23 Fri. 6:52 AM EDT Moon @ perigee (357,937 km / 222,412 mi)
June 23 Fri. 10:31 PM EDT New Moon
June 23 Sat. 10:40 PM EDT Latest end of evening Astronomical Twilight
June 25 Sun. 9:45 PM EDT Latest end of evening Nautical Twilight
June 26 Mon. 9:00 PM EDT Latest end of evening Civil Twilight
Jun. 27 Tue. 8:25 PM EDT Latest Sunset
June 27 Tue. 9:00 PM EDT Moon 1° S of Regulus
June 30 Fri.   Asteroid Day
June 30 Fri. 8:51 PM EDT First Quarter Moon
June 30 Fri. 10:50 PM EDT - 11:55 PM EDT Moon occults Porrima (Gamma) Virginis
July 1 Sat. 3:00 AM EDT Moon 3° N of Jupiter
July 2 Sun. 9:00 AM EDT Asteroid 4 Juno @ opposition
July 2 Sun. 8:00 PM EDT Mercury 5° S of Pollux
July 3 Mon. 4:00 PM EDT Earth @ aphelion (1.0167 AU / 152,092,504 km / 94.505,901 mi)
July 4 Tue. 12:57 PM EDT First rover on Mars (Pathfinder, 1997) was 20 years ago
July 5 Wed. 11:00 PM EDT Jupiter @ eastern quadrature
July 6 Thur. 6:31 AM EDT Cassini Orbit 282 Ring Crossing # 12 (3720 km from Saturn, 3980 km from D ring)
July 6 Thur. 12:28 AM EDT Moon @ apogee (405,934 km / 252,236 mi)
July 6 Thur. 11:00 PM EDT Moon 3° N of Saturn
July 9 Sun. 12:07 AM EDT Full Moon ("Full Buck Moon")
July 10 Mon. 1:00 AM EDT Pluto @ opposition
July 10 Mon. 9:56 PM EDT Juno perjove 7 - Fly-over of Jupiter's Great Red Spot
July 12 Wed. 5:44 PM EDT Casini Orbit 283 Ring Crossing # 13 (2860 km from Saturn, 4850 km from D ring)
July 13 Thur. 2:00 PM EDT Moon 0.9° S of Neptune
July 14 Fri. 7:49 AM EDT First flyby of Pluto (New  Horizons, 2015) was 2 years ago
July 14 Fri. 10:01 PM EDT First flyby of Mars (Mariner 4, 1965) was 52 years ago
July 16 Sun. 3:26 PM EDT Last Quarter Moon
July 16 Sun. 8:00 PM EDT Moon 4° S of Uranus
July 19 Wed. 4:50 AM EDT Cassini Orbit 284 Ring Crossing # 14 (2790 km from Saturn, 4910 km from D ring)
July 19 Wed. 8:00 PM EDT Moon 0.4° N of Aldebaran
July 20 Thur. 7:53 AM EDT First unmanned landing on Mars (Viking 1, 1976) was 41 years ago
July 20 Thur. 4:18 PM EDT First human landing on Moon (Apollo 11, 1965) was 48 years ago
July 20 Thur. 7:00 AM EDT Moon 3° S of Venus
July 20 Thur. 3:00 PM EDT Sun enters Cancer
July 21 Fri. 1:12 PM EDT Moon @ perigee (361,237 km / 224,462 mi)
July 23 Sun. 5:46 AM EDT New Moon
July 25 Tue. 5:00 AM EDT Moon 0.9° N of Mercury
July 25 Tue. 7:00 AM EDT Moon 0.07° N of Regulus
July 25 Tue. 3:55 PM EDT Cassini Orbit 285 Ring Crossing # 15 (2810 km from Saturn, 4890 km from D ring)
July 26 Wed. 5:00 AM EDT Mercury 1.1° S of Regulus
July 26 Wed. 9:00 PM EDT Mars @ solar conjunction
July 28 Fri. 4:00 PM EDT Moon 3° N of Jupiter
July 30 Sun. 1:00 AM EDT Mercury @ greatest elongation (27° E of Sun) - visible in W in evening
July 30 Sun. 1:00 AM EDT Southern Delta Aquariid meteors peak
July 30 Sun. 11:23 AM EDT First Quarter Moon


   (bold = cool or important)




An Overview of Major 2017 Astronomical Events

Jan. 3 Tue. 7:14:38 AM EST Latest sunrise of year in Boston
Jan. 3 Tue. 9:00 AM EST Quadrantid meteors
Jan. 4 Wed. 9:00 AM EST Earth @ perihelion (0.98331 AU / 147,101,111 km / 91,404,393 mi)
Jan. 12 Thur. 8:00 AM EST Venus @ greatest eastern elongation (47.1° E); Evening "Star"
Jan. 12 Thur. 6:00 PM EST Venus 0.4° N of Neptune (21' 57" in Boston)
Jan. 17 Tue. 8:00 PM EST Vesta @ opposition (mag. 6.3)
Jan. 19 Thur. 1:00 AM EST Jupiter 2.7° S of Moon
Jan. 19 Thur. 5:00 AM EST Mercury @ greatest western elongation (24.1° W); Morning "Star"
Jan. 31 Tue. 6:00 PM EST Mars, Venus, and waxing crescent Moon fit into circle 6° in diameter
Feb. 11 Sat. 5:34 PM EST - 9:53 PM EST Penumbral Lunar Eclipse
Feb. 17 Fri. 2:00 AM EST Venus @ greatest illuminated extent
Feb. 26 Sun. 7:10 AM EST - 12:38 PM EST Annular Solar Eclipse (SW Africa. S. Atlantic, South America)
Feb. 26 Sun. 8:15 PM EST Mars 34' N of Uranus
Mar. 1 Wed. 10:00 PM EST Neptune @ solar conjunction
Mar. 12 Sun. 2:00 AM EST Daylight Saving Time begins
Mar. 20 Mon. 6:29 AM EDT March Equinox
Mar. 25 Sat. 6:00 AM EDT Venus @ inferior conjunction
Apr. 1 Sat. 6:00 AM EDT Mercury @ greatest eastern elongation (19.0° E); Evening "Star"
Apr. 7 Fri. 5:00 PM EDT Jupiter @ opposition
Apr. 12 Wed. 2:00 PM EDT Comet 41P/Tuttle-Giacobini-Kresak @ perihelion (mag. 5?)
Apr. 14 Fri. 2:00 AM EDT Uranus @ solar conjunction
Apr. 22 Sat. 8:00 AM EDT Lyrid meteors
Apr. 22 Sat.   Cassini Titan flyby begins Proximal Orbit Phase ("Grand Finale")
Apr.29 Sat. All day Astronomy Day (spring)
Apr. 30 Sun. 12:00 AM EDT Venus @ greatest illuminated extent
May 4 Thur. 9:00 AM EDT Eta Aquarid meteors
May 17 Wed. 7:00 PM EDT Mercury @ greatest western elongation (25.8° W); Morning "Star"
Jun. 2 Fri. 10:00 AM EDT Venus 2° S of Uranus
Jun. 3 Sat. 7:00 AM EDT Venus @ greatest western elongation (45.9° W); Morning "Star"
Jun. 3 Sat. 8:00 PM EST Moon 2° N  of Jupiter
Jun. 3 Sat. 10:24 PM EDT - 12:21 AM EDT Double shadow transit on Jupiter (Io, Ganymede)
Jun. 12 Wed. 4:00 AM EDT Comet C/2015 V2 (Johnson) @ perihelion (mag. 6?)
Jun. 14 Wed. 5:07:00 AM EDT Earliest sunrise of year in Boston
Jun. 15 Thur. 5:00 AM EDT Saturn @ opposition
Jun. 19 Mon. 10:06 PM EDT - 10:38 PM EDT Double shadow transit on Jupiter (Io, Europa)
Jun. 21 Wed. 12:25 AM EDT June Solstice
Jun. 27 Tue. 8:25:22 PM EDT Latest sunset of year in Boston
Jul. 3 Mon. 4:00 AM EDT Earth @ aphelion (1.01668 AU / 152,093,193 km / 94,506,329 mi)
Jul. 10 Mon. 12:10 AM EDT Pluto @ opposition
Jul. 26 Wed. 9:00 PM EDT Mars @ superior comjunction
Jul. 28 Fri. 9:00 PM EDT Moon 2° N of Jupiter
Jul. 30 Sun. 12:00 AM EDT Mercury @ greatest eastern elongation (27.2° E); Evening "Star"
Aug. 7 Mon. 11:50 AM EDT - 4:50  PM EDT Partial Lunar Eclipse (Eastern Hemisphere)
Aug. 12 Sat. 3:00 PM EDT Perseid meteors
Aug. 21 Mon. 11:46 AM EDT - 5:04 PM EDT Total Solar Eclipse (Partial 9:28 AM EDT - 11:59 PM EDT in Boston)
Sept. 5 Tue. 12:00 AM EDT Neptune @ opposition
Sept. 12 Tue. 6:00 AM EDT Mercury @ greatest western elongation (17.9° W); Morning "Star
Sept. 15 Fri. 8:07 AM EDT Cassini enters atmosphere of Saturn, burns up
Sept. 16 Sat. 2:00 PM EDT Mercury 0.03° N of Mars (3.2' in Pacific, 18' in Boston)
Sept. 22 Fri. 4:02 PM EDT September Equinox
Sept. 23 Sat.   OSIRIS_REx Earth flyby
Sept. 30 Sat. All day Astronomy Day (fall)
Oct. 5 Thur. 9:00 AM EDT Venus 0.2° N of Mars
Oct. 7 Sat.   Mars @ aphelion
Oct. 19 Thur. 1:00 PM EDT Uranus @ opposition
Oct. 26 Thur. 2:12 PM EDT Jupiter @ solar conjunction
Nov. 5 Sun. 2:00 AM EDT Daylight Saving Time ends
Nov. 5 Sun. 9:03 PM EST - 9:59 PM EST Moon occults Aldebaran
Nov. 13 Mon. 1:00 AM EST Venus 0.3° N of Jupiter
Nov. 17 Fri. 12:00 PM EST Leonid meteors
Nov. 23 Thur. 7:00 PM EST Mercury @ greatest eastern elongation (22.0° E); Evening "Star"
Nov. 28 Tue. 5:00 AM EST Mercury 3° S of Saturn
Dec. 8 Fri. 4:11:42 PM EST Earliest sunset of year in Boston
Dec. 14 Thur. 1:00 AM EST Geminid meteors
Dec. 21 Thur. 11:29 PM EST December Solstice
Dec. 21 Thur. 6:00 PM EST Saturn @ solar conjunction
Dec. 22 Fri. 10:00 AM EST Ursid meteors
Dec. 30 Sat. 7:28 PM EST - 8:21 PM EST Moon occults Aldebaran




June 15, 2017 - 10:00 PM EDT





the era of “extremely large telescopes”.