Skywatch Line for Friday, May 27, through Sunday, May 29, 2016

This is Dudley Observatory’s Skywatch Line for Friday, May 27, through Sunday, May 29, written by Sam Salem.

The Sun rises at 5:23am and sets at 8:24pm on Friday. Last Quarter Moon occurs on Sunday at 8:12 am. The Moon rises 10 minutes after midnight on Friday. It rises at 1:25am and sets at 12:49pm on Sunday. Try to spot the Moon in the daylight. It is still interesting to look at the Moon with a telescope at the daylight even though it doesn’t show its details as sharply as at night. Just as you observe the Moon at night, the best area to look is along the line between the day and night parts or the Moon.

On Friday, Jupiter’s Great Red Spot transits Jupiter’s central meridian around 2:02am. It is positioned in excellent view for an hour before and after. Jupiter, in southern Leo, stands high in the south in twilight then starts declining toward the southwest.

On Saturday, the bright orange-yellow Mars is seen at the head of Scorpius, reaching its closest distance to Earth on May 30th. During the evening, Antares is about 9 degrees lower left of Mars and Saturn is around 8 degrees to the left of Antares. The best time to view the two planets, Mars and Saturn, in a telescope is when they stand highest in the south around 2am. Mars appears 18.4 to 18.6 arcseconds in diameter. If you have a big telescope, now is the time to try to find the tiny Martian moons, Phobos and Deimos.

Constellation Virgo appears in the evening sky on late May. It is the largest constellation of the Zodiac and the second-largest constellation overall. However, Virgo, the goddess of the harvest, is difficult to most people to make out its pattern of the winged maiden holding an ear of what in her left hand.
Luckily, Virgo’s first-magnitude star, sparkling blue-white Spica, makes this constellation fairly easy to locate in the night sky. You can star-hop to Spica from the handle of the Big Dipper. Spica is a spectroscopic binary which is a system of two main stars so close together. They are egg-shaped rather than spherical, and can only be separated by their spectrum.

On Many 29, 1919, a solar eclipse permitted observation of the bending of starlight passing through the sun’s gravitational field, as predicted by Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity. The findings made Einstein a celebrity overnight. This eclipse was photographed from the expedition of Sir Arthur Eddington to the island of Principe off the west coast of Africa. Positions of star images within the field near the Sun were used to test Albert Einstein’s prediction of the bending of light around the Sun. The stars which Eddington’s expedition observed were in the constellation Taurus.

The Albany Area Amateur Astronomers Star Watch at the Deerfield Pavilion in Grafton Lakes State Park is scheduled for this Friday at 8:30PM. If cancelled for poor skies, The Star Watch will be reschedules for Saturday night. Directions to the Deerfield Pavilion can be found at:

Skywatch Line for Wednesday, May 25th and Thursday, May 26th, 2016

This is the Dudley Observatory Skywatch Line for Wednesday, May 25th and Thursday, May 26th written by Louis Suarato.

You’ll have a couple of hours of dark skies for observing before the 83% illuminated, waning gibbous Moon rises at 11:27 Wednesday night. At twilight, Jupiter emerges about 50 degrees above the southwest horizon. A telescopic view of the gas giant will reveal the moons Europa and Callisto to one side, and Io and Ganymede on the other side. Europa and Io will be closest to the planet. Jupiter is the most massive planet in the solar system. The mass of Jupiter is 318 times that of Earth. If Jupiter had been 80 times more massive, it may have become a star, rather than a planet. Jupiter’s atmospheric composition is similar to the Sun. It is composed mostly of hydrogen and helium. Also at twilight, Mars and Saturn will be above the southeastern horizon. The red and ringed planets are now 14 degrees apart. Mars, just past its opposition, shines at magnitude -2.1. The Martian north pole is tilted at 12 degrees toward Earth. Saturn will reach opposition on June 3rd. Mercury and Venus continue to be hidden in the glow of the Sun.

May 26th is the birth date of Richard Carrington. Born in 1826, Carrington, who studied the motion of sunspots, witnessed one of the most powerful solar flares in recorded history in 1859. This flare led to what is known as the Carrington Event. Thesolar flare created aurorae that could be seen as far south as the Caribbean. Telegraph operators received shocks from the electromagnetic charges created by the flare. Some operators were able to continue to send messages, even when the power was disconnected.

The Albany Area Amateur Astronomers invite you to join them for a Star Watch at the Deerfield Pavilion in Grafton Lakes State Park this Friday, May 27th at 8:30. If Friday’s event is cancelled for poor skies, the Star Watch will be rescheduled for Saturday night. Directions to the Deerfield Pavilion can be found at

Skywatch Line for Monday and Tuesday, May 23rd and 24th, 2016

This is the Skywatch Line for Monday and Tuesday, May 23rd and 24th.

The Sun sets at 8:19 PM; night falls at 10:25. Dawn breaks at 3:18 AM and ends with the Sun rising at 5:24.

The darkening sky contains two equally bright planets. Jupiter rose, in Leo, this afternoon. By Civil Dusk, it is overhead in the southern sky, below Leo’s belly. Jupiter blazes at minus 2.1 magnitude and sets at about 2:19 AM. While binocular observers can see the Galilean moons, telescope users can see the Great Red Spot, a giant storm on Jupiter, at 10:45 Monday night. They can also see the moon Europa’s shadow begin to cross the planet at 11:57 PM, on Tuesday; Europa itself exits Jupiter’s face at 12:12 AM.

Mars rises just before sunset. Yesterday, Mars reached opposition. Opposition means a planet is directly opposite Earth and the Sun; it also means the planet rises at sunset and sets at sunrise. Mars is located in the head of Scorpius. Its brilliant red color easily identifies it. Note Mars’ brightness; it is equal to Jupiter in brilliance. This is the best time for observation of Martian surface features. Astronomy magazines and apps provide surface charts. This Martian opposition is the best in eleven years. Not only is Mars at opposition, but, on May 30th, the Red Planet will be closest to Earth, about a half astronomical unit or 46 million miles. Mars sets before Dawn.

Saturn rises in Ophiuchus about an hour after Mars. The Ringed Planet trails Mars by about 13 degrees. It is always a great object in a telescope. Antares, the brightest star in Scorpius, also rises with Saturn and lies about nine degrees below Mars. By 11 PM, the three form a giant triangle in the southern sky. Saturn and Antares remain up the rest of the night. Saturn shines at zero magnitude and Antares glows at first magnitude.

The 17 day-old Moon rises in Sagittarius at 9:51 PM Monday; Tuesday sees the slimmer and less brilliant Moon rise at 10:41 PM.

Hydra, the Water Snake, wends its way southward beneath Cancer and Leo. Two constellations ride on its back, Corvus and Crater. Corvus is known as either a Raven or a Crow, due to conflicting legends. One story depicts a snow-white Raven as Apollo’s messenger. When the Raven gives Apollo the especially bad news that his wife was unfaithful, the angry god changed the Raven’s feathers black (the color of contemporary ravens) and banished him to the sky. The other myth sees the Crow again as Apollo’s messenger. When the god asks for a cup (Crater) of water, the Crow departs, but is distracted by a fig tree, full of ripening fruit. The crow took too long, returning with a water snake (Hydra) in his claws. The fuming deity exiled the bird, the snake and the cup to the night sky.

Skywatch Line for Friday, May 20, through Sunday, May 22, 2016

This is Dudley Observatory’s Skywatch Line for Friday, May 20, through Sunday, May 22, written by Sam Salem.

On Friday, the Sun rises at 5:28am and sets around 8:17pm. Full Moon occurs at 5:14pm on Saturday. The Old Farmer’s Almanac uses Full Moon names that were used during Native American and Colonial times to help track the seasons. Depending on the tribe, May’s Full Moon was called the Full Flower Moon as well as Mother’s Moon, Milk Moon, and Corn Planting Moon. Also, the May 21st full Moon is a “seasonal” Blue Moon – an older definition of the term. In recent years, people have been using the name Blue Moon for the second of two full moons in a single calendar month. An older definition says a Blue Moon is the third of four full moons in a single season.

Moon rises at 7:07pm on Friday; 8:04pm on Saturday, and 8:59pm on Sunday night and sets around 6:16am on Monday morning. Let the moon help guide your eye to Mars and Saturn in the morning sky this weekend. Watch the Moon this weekend near brilliant Mars. The Full Moon on Saturday night forms a near rectangle of 10 degrees long with Mars, Saturn, and Antares. On Sunday, the Moon rises in twilight. Look for the modest light of Saturn 4 degrees to its right.

Observe Mars at its best in the next few days. The Earth will pass between Mars and the Sun this weekend. Oppositions of Mars recur about every two years and 50 days. April 8, 2014, is the date Earth last went between the sun and Mars. In non-opposition years, Mars lies far across the solar system from Earth, at times hidden from our view by the sun itself. Mars will be particularly close at the 2016 opposition. It will arrive at its best opposition in 11 years on May 22nd. Due to the considerable ellipticity of its orbit, Mars can reach its closest approach to Earth quite a few days before or after opposition. This year its closest approach doesn’t happen until May 30th. Super-close oppositions of Mars occur in periods of 15 to 17 years. The last super-close Martian opposition happened on August 28, 2003, and the next one will occur on July 27, 2018. Extra-close oppositions happen when the Earth goes between Mars and the Sun around the time Mars is closest to the Sun.

Mars’ rapid retrograde motion brings it up right at sunset by May 22nd. The view of Mars with the naked eye or in binoculars is captivating. In a telescope, Mars reaches a maximum angular diameter of 18.6 arcsecond by the end of May. That is large enough to reveal numerous surface markings with a good telescope under good seeing conditions. Mars will occupy Scorpious for the close approach, providing an opportunity to compare its color with its rival, Antares.

Saturn trails its planetary neighbor Mars. The ringed planet rises shortly after 9 pm and appears highest in the south around 2 am. Although Saturn will reach opposition and peak visibility on June 2nd, It’s radiance improves only slightly. The surface of Saturn is much dimmer due to its greater distance from the Sun. In a telescope, Saturn measures 18 arcseconds in diameter, surrounded by a ring system that spans 42 arcseconds and tilts 26 degrees to our line of sight.

Skywatch Line for Wednesday, May 18th and Thursday, May 19th, 2016

This is the Dudley Observatory Skywatch Line for Wednesday, May 18th and Thursday, May 19th written by Louis Suarato

The 92% illuminated, waxing gibbous Moon rises at 5:12 p.m.,Wednesday. The Moon will reach apogee, its furthest distance from Earth during this lunar cycle, at 6:06 p.m. Wednesday evening, making the next Full Moon, on the 21st, the smallest of the year. After the skies darken, you’ll notice a bright star about 3 degrees to the upper right of the Moon. That star is Spica, the brightest star in the constellation Virgo, and the 15th brightest star in our night sky. May 18th is the birth date of Croatian Jesuit priest and astronomer, Roger Joseph Boscovich. Born in 1711, Boscovich discovered the absence of a lunar atmosphere in 1753. It has been since discovered that the Moon does have an atmosphere, consisting of the gases sodium and potassium, and as thin as the air where the International Space Station circles Earth. Boscovich is quoted as saying “Prejudice for regularity and simplicity is a source of error that has only too often infected philosophy.”

Mars rises at 8:35 p.m., appearing larger, and shining brighter, in more than a decade, a few days before reaching opposition. Saturn follows about an hour later. The gap between Mars and Saturn will grow to 15 degrees by the end of the month. Jupiter will be about 50 degrees over the southern horizon by nightfall. Mercury reaches aphelion on Thursday, as it, and Venus are hidden in the glow of the Sun.

Although the conditions aren’t optimal for viewing deep sky objects, you may want to view the globular cluster M5. This beautiful cluster of stars can be found approximately 25 degrees below Arcturus and above Mars. M5 is one of the largest globular clusters, spanning 165 light-years in diameter. At 13 billion years old, M5 is one of the oldest globular clusters in the Milky Way. It is 24,500 light-years away, and may contain 100,000 to 500,000 stars. M5 was discovered by astronomer Gottfried Kirch in 1702 while he was searching for comets.

The Albany Area Amateur Astronomers invite you to join them for their monthly meeting that will be held Thursday, May 19th beginning at 7:30 p.m., at miSci in Schenectady. This month’s speaker is Matthew Syzdagis, Ph.D and associate Professor in Experimental Physics at the University of Albany. Dr. Syzdagis has completed extensive research in Dark Matter. His latest article is entitled “Xenon Bubble Chambers for Direct Dark Matter Detection”.

Skywatch Line for Monday and Tuesday, May 16th and 17th, 2016

This is the Skywatch Line for Monday and Tuesday, May 16th and 17th.

The Sun sets at 8:13 PM; night falls at 10:14. Dawn begins at 3:29 AM and ends with the Sun rising at 5:30.

The ten-day-old Moon dominates the darkening sky. In Virgo, it blazes at minus 10.9 and appears about 80 percent illuminated; Tuesday night finds it even brighter and larger. The Moon sets during Dawn both days.

Jupiter, still in Leo, is also up during twilight. Observers get a two-for-one treat Monday night. Binocular observers, at 9:57 PM, will see all four Galilean moons to one side of the giant planet. At the same time, telescopic observers will see the Great Red Spot, a giant storm, centered on Jupiter’s face. Jupiter sets about 2:46 AM.

Mars rises during civil dusk in Scorpius. As mentioned last week, it is retrograding – moving westward away from Saturn.
Saturn rises in Ophiuchus at 9:26 PM. Antares, the brightest star in Scorpius rises shortly after Saturn. By Midnight, they are high enough for observation. Mars is brightest and blazes at minus 2 magnitude. Saturn is next brightest at zero magnitude, with Antares third at first magnitude. They form a giant triangle in the southern sky. Mars is eleven degrees West of Saturn and seven degrees above like-colored Antares. Saturn completes the triangle by being almost eight degrees away from Antares. All three set after sunrise.

Eighth magnitude Neptune rises at 2:34 AM and appears as a blue green dot in Aquarius. Uranus, in Pisces, rises at 4:04 AM. Observers trying for these outer planets should begin before Dawn, when sunlight will wash out these tiny images.

Last Monday, we observed Mercury transiting across the Sun’s face. Most people know that Mercury is the planet closest to the Sun. Over a 150 years ago, that was not certain. Urbain Leverrier, a French astronomer, had just discovered the planet Neptune by analyzing oddities in the orbit of Uranus, and using Newton’s laws. Astronomers, for some time, knew of similar problems with Mercury’s orbit. Some of these issues were solved, again using Newton’s laws, but others remained unexplained. Leverrier took up the problem. He predicted that a planet could exist between the Sun and Mercury, if it had a certain orbit. In 1859, a French amateur astronomer, Edmond Lescarbault, claimed to have spotted it. Leverrier interviewed Lescarbault, proclaimed his discovery real and appropriately named the new planet Vulcan, after the Roman god of fire. However, another French astronomer named Liais was observing in Brazil at the same time as Lescarbault, and did not see it. Other reports had similar mixed results. Two New York astronomers, Lewis Swift and Christian Peters, who once headed Dudley Observatory, observed during an eclipse in 1878. They failed to find Vulcan, only sunspots. In 1915, Albert Einstein solved the mystery and discredited Vulcan. His Theory of Relativity predicted that Mercury’s orbital precession was due to Relativity effects. Several space probes now orbit the Sun and provide constant imagery; no planet has been seen. It is possible that small asteroids could orbit between Mercury and the Sun, but none have been found to date.

Skywatch Line for Friday, May 13, through Sunday, May 15, 2016

This is Dudley Observatory’s Skywatch Line for Friday, May 13, through Sunday, May 15, written by Sam Salem.

The Sun rises at 5:35am on Friday and sets around 8:10pm. First Quarter Moon occurs at 1:02pm. The half-lit Moon rises around 12:23pm, appears highest in the south shortly before sunset, and sets around 2:09am. The Moon spends this evening less than 5 degrees from Regulus, the brightest star in constellation Leo the Lion.

Lunar X near crater Werner is visible in all of North America around 10pm on Friday night. This feature is easily visible even in small telescopes. The famous “optical feature” on the Moon appears like the letter “X” when the line separating the sunlit and shadowed sides is at a suitable position. It is a good example of how the combination of lighting and topography can combine to produce a pattern that repeats on each lunar month for a short time. The illusion of the “X” is created by sunlight falling on the rims/ridges between the craters La Caille, Blanchinus, and Purbach. The “X” is observable for about 4 hours around the lunar First Quarter. Sometimes the term “Clair-Obscur” is used for this effect of light and shadow interplay created on the Moon’s surface. Clair-Obscur, French for “light” and “shadow”, on the moon’s surface is an artistic term introduced by a seventeenth century French painter. Because lunar lighting patterns repeat in a cycle of approximately 29.5 days, each effect can be observed from somewhere on Earth once every month.

Jupiter and the Moon shine high on Saturday evening, just a few degrees apart. Mars is the third brightest object in the sky shining low in the southeast after dark. As Mars climbs higher, you will find Antares below it and Saturn to its lower left. This triangle stands highest in the south around 3 am. Mars is now closer, bigger, and brighter than it’s been in a decade.

On Sunday, Saturn pokes above the southeastern horizon about 45 minutes after Mars rises. Saturn’s proximity to Mars means it also will reach opposition and peak visibility soon. It reaches this orbital highlight on June 3rd.

The Summer Triangle is making its appearance in the east, one star after another. The first in view is Vega. It’s already visible low in the northeast as twilight fades. Bright star Vega is the 5th brightest star in the sky and the brightest star in constellation Lyra the harp. Next up is Deneb, lower left of Vega by two or three fists at arm’s length. Deneb takes about an hour to appear after Vega does. The third is Altair, which shows up far to their lower right around midnight. It’s easy to identify the star Vega in the constellation Lyra at this time of year. Just look northeast in the evening for a bright, bluish star above the northeastern horizon.

Saturday is the “spring” Astronomy Day. Astronomy Day is a world-wide event observed each spring and fall. It dates back to 1973, when Dough Berger, then
president of the Astronomical Association of Northern California decided to take advantage of local resources to “bring astronomy to the people”. Today, more than 40 years later, the day is celebrated across the United States and Canada, as well as in many countries around the world.

Skywatch Line for Wednesday, May 11th and Thursday, May 12th, 2016

This is the Dudley Observatory Skywatch Line for Wednesday, May 11th and Thursday, May 12th written by Louis Suarato

Wednesday, after sunset, the 32% illuminated, waxing crescent Moon will be 40 degrees over the west-northwestern horizon. At the same time, Jupiter can be found 54 degrees above the southern horizon. Jupiter’s Great Red Spot transits at 10:39 p.m. Wednesday. Thursday, Jupiter’s largest moon, Ganymede, will be transiting from the time darkness falls to 10:09 p.m., followed by its shadow beginning at 11:39 p.m. Thursday night. Look for the Beehive cluster, also known as M44, about 8.5 degrees to the upper left of the crescent Moon. Mars rises at 9:13 p.m., followed by Saturn at 9:50. Mars and Saturn are now separated by 10 degrees. The constellation Scorpius’ brightest star, Antares, is 6.4 degrees below Mars. Look a few degrees to the upper left of Mars for the Blue Horsehead Nebula, also known as IC 4592. This reflection nebula, in the constellation Scorpius, is comprised of very fine dust which appears blue as it reflects the light from nearby stars. Much of the reflected light originates from the star Nu Scorpii, that can be found near the eye of the horse’s head.

May 11th is the birth date of astronomer Frank Schlesinger. Born in 1871, Schlesinger pioneered the use of photography to map stars and determine their distances. Schlesinger also wrote the Yale Catalogue of Bright Stars. This catalogue lists all the stars of stellar magnitude 6.5 or brighter, or almost all stars visible from Earth with the naked eye. The list includes 9,096 stars.

A bright International Space Station crosses over our skies early Thursday morning. Look to the southwestern horizon at 4:16 a.m. for this -3.4 magnitude ISS pass to rise above Mars and Saturn. The ISS will continue northeasterly past Hercules, Aquila, Lyra, and through Cygnus, before disappearing into the horizon.

Skywatch Line for Monday and Tuesday, May 9th and 10th, 2016

This is the Skywatch Line for Monday and Tuesday, May ninth and tenth.

The Sun sets at 8:05 PM; night falls at 10:20. Dawn breaks at 3:41 AM and ends with the Sun rising at 5:37.

The Monday twilight sky reveals the four-day-old Moon moderately high in the western sky. In Orion, the Moon appears about fourteen percent illuminated and blazes at minus 6.5 magnitude. Tuesday finds the Moon in Gemini, brighter and about 23 percent illuminated. Monday’s Moon sets at 11:17 PM; Wednesday finds it setting after Midnight.

Jupiter is the other beacon in tonight’s sky. Also up by sunset, Jupiter still appears beneath Leo’s belly. While binoculars permit viewers to see several of Jupiter’s 67 moons, telescopic explorers can on see two events. On Tuesday, the Great Red Spot, a giant storm on Jupiter, appears about 9 PM; twenty-seven minutes later, they can witness the Jovian moon Europa depart the planet’s face.

Mars, Saturn and the star Antares rise at nightfall. They are very low on the horizon. By Midnight, they are high enough for observation. Mars rises first at 9:20 PM; Saturn follows at 9:55. Red Planet Mars shines minus 1.8 magnitude and appears twenty degrees high; Saturn glows at zero magnitude and is about nine degrees from Mars. During the month, Mars travels westward, what astronomers call retrograde, and almost doubles the distance from Saturn. Mars is also stationed about six degrees above the bright star Antares, in Scorpius. Mars also distances itself from the stellar copycat. Mars reaches opposition later this month when it is nearest Earth. Mars, Saturn and Antares form a rough triangle all month. Mars sets during daylight.

Saturn is also worthy of study. Its ring system is a favorite of star parties. But Saturn also possesses a fleet of moons. Astronomers with telescopes can see some of the 62 moons, depending on telescope size. Some apps and reference books provide astronomers with identification. Saturn also sets during daylight. Saturn will celebrate its own opposition next month.

Dawn sees Neptune, in Aquarius, reappear in our skies. Neptune rises at 3 AM, so sky watchers should work quickly to find its blue-green dot before the sky becomes too bright.

The Pleiades, also known as M-45 and the Seven Sisters, are among the oldest known deep sky objects. Ancient Chinese observed the Pleiades during the vernal equinox of 2357 BC. Several books of the Old Testament mention the Pleiades. Ancient Greeks worshiped them. The word “Pleiades,” may derive from the Greek verb “to sail,” since the cluster rose when the sailing season began and set when it ended. The Seven Sisters were nymphs, daughters of Atlas and Pleione. Since most people see six stars, there is a legend of the “Lost Pleiad.” Several stars are mentioned, but none can be definitively identified. The Pleiades are classified as an “open star cluster,” about 367 light years distant. A Japanese car manufacturer uses the Pleiades as their corporate symbol – Subaru.

Skywatch Line for Friday, May 6, through Sunday, May 8, 2016

This is Dudley Observatory’s Skywatch Line for Friday, May 6, through Sunday, May 8, written by Sam Salem.

On Friday, the Sun rises at 5:43am and sets at 8:02pm. The New Moon occurs at 3:30pm, this afternoon, and sets a few minutes before sunset, around 7:58pm. On Saturday, the New Moon sets at 9:10pm, try to catch the hairline crescent Moon twenty or thirty minutes after sunset, just a few degrees above the west-northwest horizon, Aldebaran is a few degrees above or upper left. Binoculars will help finding the 28 hours young Moon.

Jupiter reaches its transit altitude around 8:55pm on Friday and sets around 3:30am the next day. Tonight is the last chance to see a double shadow transit on Jupiter this apparition. Watch the two shadows on Jupiter as both Callisto and Io cast their tiny black shadows onto Jupiter’s sunlit face from 12:38 to 1:42 am tonight. Io’s shadow joins Callisto’s on the Jovian disk around 12:38am. Callisto’s shadow leaves the planet around 1:42am.

On Friday, Mars rises around 9:36pm, reaches its transit altitude around 2:17am and sets shortly after sunrise. Mars is entering its closest two-month charm in a decade. Blazing upper in constellation Scorpius, as it climbs higher, you’ll find Antares below it and Saturn to its lower left. Mars continues to grow in diameter as Earth continues to approach it. Mars will come to opposition on the night of May 21–22. For several days around its closest approach to Earth on May 30th, it will reach its largest since 2005.

The return of bright globular clusters to the evening sky is a signal that summer is just around the corner. This moonless weekend provides a good opportunity to search out for one of the globular star clusters that has gone on to become one of the best-studied objects in the night sky. Messier Object 3 (M3 or NGC 5272) is considered by amateur astronomers to be one of the finest clusters. As darkness arrives, M3 is in prime position nearly overhead. M3 is located in the northern starless space of constellation of Canes Venatici on the border with Boötes. The easiest way to pin down M3 is to draw an imaginary line connecting the stars Arcturus and Cor Corali. M3 is situated a little less than half way from Arcturus. The cluster is an easy catch in binoculars, which show it as a slightly bloated, fuzzy “star.” With a small telescopes used at moderate magnification you will start to resolve individual cluster members, and the view in an 8- or 10-inch scope can be spectacular. In 1764, Charles Messier logged M3 as a “Nebula without star”. With his small telescope, rather like the finder scope of a modern amateur telescope, Messier could not resolve M3 into stars.

Mercury will make its daytime transit across the Sun’s face on Monday. You can join the Dudley Observatory at miSci for this special event on Monday from 9am—3pm. See the link below. Special telescopes will be set up for safe solar viewing, hands-on sun-themed activities throughout the gallery, and a live stream of the transit. The entire transit is visible in Eastern North America. Don’t miss it as the next transit of Mercury won’t occur until 2019.