Skywatch Line for Wednesday, March 30th and Thursday, March 31st, 2016

This is the Dudley Observatory Skywatch Line for Wednesday, March 30th and Thursday, March 31st written by Louis Suarato

The 60% illuminated, waning gibbous Moon sets at 11:04 a.m. Wednesday. The Last Quarter Moon occurs at 11:18 a.m. Thursday and will set around noon, leaving the sky darker for observing. After sunset, look for Jupiter about 35 degrees above the east-southeastern horizon. There will be several Galilean moon events Wednesday night, beginning with the transit of Io at 8:07 p.m., followed by the occultation of Europa at 8:32 pm. Io’s shadow transit begins at 8:38 p.m., followed by Ganymede’s transit at 9:38 pm. At 9:39 p.m., only Callisto can be seen away from Jupiter, as Io and Ganymede transit, and Europa is occulted. At 10:22 p.m., Io’s transit ends, and at 10:53 p.m., Io’s shadow transit is complete. Ganymede’s shadow transit begins at 11:45 p.m., and ends at 3:02 a.m., Thursday. Europa reappears 19 minutes after midnight. Ganymede’s transit ends at 52 minutes after midnight.

There will be a very bright International Space Station pass over our region Wednesday night. Look to the southwestern horizon to watch the ISS rise toward the sky’s brightest star, Sirius. The ISS will sail through the Milky Way, but disappears into Earth’s shadow below the Beehive Cluster in mid-sky before reaching Jupiter in the constellation Leo.

Mars rises at 2 minutes after midnight Thursday, followed by Saturn 40 minutes later. The two planets are now separated by about 9 degrees. The Moon will join them after 2 am.

This weekend, you’ll have several astronomy events to consider attending as the Dudley Observatory and Albany Area Amateur Astronomers begin this year’s monthly star parties. Friday, beginning at 8 p.m., the Dudley Observatory will host a lecture and star party at the Octagonal Barn in Delanson, NY. The evening’s lecture will be “The Astrophysics of Time Travel“ by Dr. Matthew Szydagis of SUNY Albany. The star party will be held, weather permitting, after the lecture. Directions to the Octagonal Barn can be found at The Albany Area Amateur Astronomers will be hosting their first star parties of the year this Friday and Saturday nights at the Landis Arboretum. Star Parties are cancelled if the skies are mostly cloudy. Please call the Frenches at 374-8460 if you are unsure. Directions to the Landis Arboretum can be found at

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