Skywatch Line for Wednesday, October 7th and Thursday, October 8th

This is the Dudley Observatory Skywatch Line for Wednesday, October 7th and Thursday, October 8th written by Louis Suarato

The 22% illuminated, waning crescent Moon sets at 3:39 p.m. Wednesday afternoon. A slightly thinner crescent Moon will rise again at 2:31 a.m. Thursday. Thursday morning’s crescent Moon will be joined by Venus and the constellation Leo’s brightest star, Regulus, less than a half hour later. Venus and the Moon will be less than a degree apart, while Venus and Regulus will be 2.6 degrees apart with the Moon to their upper right. Mars and Jupiter join the party at 3:54 and 4:15 a.m. respectively, and will be 4 degrees apart. Mercury rises around 6 a.m., but may be a challenge to see with the morning glow of the Sun. The crescent Moon, four planets, and the bright star Regulus should provide a wonderful photo opportunity. Friday morning, a 10% illuminated, crescent Moon will be 3 degrees to the side of Mars.

October 7th is the anniversary of the first photos taken of the dark side of the Moon. In 1959, the Russian spacecraft, Luna 3, looked back of the side of the Moon never seen before, and transmitted 29 photos back to Earth. Although the photos were of poor quality, they did provide details of 70% of the side of the Moon that never faces our planet. The far side of the Moon was first seen directly by human eyes when, during the Apollo 8 mission, astronaut William Anders said “The backside looks like a sand pile my kids have played in for some time. It’s all beat up, no definition, just a lot of bumps and holes.”

The Albany Area Amateur Astronomers will be hosting public star parties at the Landis Arboretum in Esperance, NY on Friday, October 9th, and Saturday, October 10th. These star parties provide a great opportunity to learn about the night sky’s constellations and deep sky objects such as galaxies, nebulae, star clusters and asterisms. Amateur astronomers are also available to discuss and demonstrate the various types of telescopes on the market. Directions to the arboretum can be found at http://dudleyobservatory.org/AAAA/directions/ .

Senior Science Day, Monday, November 2, 2015

November Topic: Water on Mars!


water_mars
marswholeThe Dudley Observatory at miSci is committed to lifelong learning and has created programming specifically designed for senior citizens! Come explore the museum on a quiet afternoon, then join the Dudley Observatory for an exciting astronomy lesson presented by our Outreach Astronomer, Dr. Valerie Rapson. Each day we will focus on a specific astronomy topic. Topics to be covered throughout the program include: Exploring our Solar System, NASA’s Great Observatories, Searching for alien life, Einstein’s theories explained, current space news, and more! No astronomy knowledge is necessary, just come and enjoy learning! All adults are welcome. Presentation will be given through powerpoint with large print font and videos will have captions when available.

First Monday of every month at miSci

Talk starts at 3pm

Cost: Senior Admission to miSci- $8.00 (for 65+), FREE for miSci members.
Regular adult admission is $9.50

Come early or stay after the lesson to enjoy the many exhibits miSci has to offer! The museum is open from 9 am – 5 pm.  You need not be a senior citizen to attend.

 

Skywatch Line for Wednesday, September 30th and Thursday, October 1st

This is the Dudley Observatory Skywatch Line for Wednesday, September 30th and Thursday, October 1st written by Louis Suarato

The 88%, illuminated waning gibbous Moon rises at 8:17 p.m. Wednesday night. Rising 15 degrees to the Moon’s northeast will be the Pleiades star cluster. Thursday night, the Moon will below the Pleiades and about 5 degrees to Aldebaran’s upper right. Further to the northeast will be the constellation Auriga’s brightest star, Capella. Capella is the 6th brightest star in the sky and the third brightest in the northern celestial hemisphere. It is also the brightest yellow star that can been seen in our sky. Capella is the nearest to the Pole of all 1st magnitude stars. Capella, also known as Alpha Aurigae, is a multiple star system consisting of a pair of binary stars. The brightest pair consists of two stars with radii 10 times larger than our Sun. These two giant stars have been designated as Capella Aa and Capella Ab. These two bright giant stars orbit each other once every 104 days. Their faint companions are known as Capella H and Capella L. This multiple star system is estimated to be 42.8 light-years from Earth.

To the lower right of Capella are three open star clusters. The nearest is M38, or The Starfish Cluster. Discovered by Le Gentil in 1749, M38 has over 100 stars within its cluster. Approximately 2.3 degrees to M38’s southeast is the open cluster, M36, also designated NGC 1960. M36 and M38 can be seen in the same field of view of a low-power, wide angle telescope. M36 is the smaller of the two clusters, but brighter, containing about 60 stars of magnitudes 9 to 14. The open star cluster M37, or NGC 2099, is located about 3 degrees below M36. C.E. Barns described M37 as a “diamond sunburst”. M37 was discovered by Giovanni Batista Hodierna before 1654 and contains about 60 stars.

Thursday’s pre-dawn sky features the planets Venus, Mars and Jupiter rising over the eastern horizon. Leo’s brightest star, Regulus, will be found below Venus and above Mars. Continue to follow these planets during October as they draw closer.

Skywatch Line for Monday and Tuesday, September 28th and 29th

This is the Dudley Observatory Skywatch Line for Monday and Tuesday, September 28th and 29th written by Joe Slomka.

The Sun sets at 6:42 PM; night falls at 8:16. Dawn beaks at 5:15 AM and ends with sunrise at 6:50.

The darkening sky reveals only one bright planet – Saturn. Saturn appears moderately low in the southwestern sky. It appears between Libra and the head of Scorpius and is slowly closing in on the Scorpion. Saturn sets at 9:21 PM.

Nightfall reveals Neptune still keeping station in Aquarius. Finder charts, found in astronomy magazines, websites and apps, assist in locating this distant world. Neptune sets at 4:30 AM.

Normally visible Uranus, in Pisces, may not be observable on Monday and Tuesday evenings. The Moon, which experienced an eclipse last night, has parked itself less than two degrees from Uranus. The overwhelming lunar brilliance will probably drown Uranus by its light and make observation of the planet difficult. The sixteen-day-old Moon rose after 7 PM on both nights and sets during daylight, appearing nearly full on both evenings.

Astronomical Dawn introduces three new characters on stage, in Leo. Brilliant Venus rose at 3:18 AM, second in brightness only to the Moon. In high-powered binoculars or telescopes, Venus appears about one-third illuminated and keeps shrinking in size. First magnitude Mars is next to rise, at 3:57 AM; it lies about eleven degrees from Venus, but only three degrees from Leo’s brightest star, Regulus. Its rusty color distinguishes it from the white star Regulus. Jupiter is the last to rise, at 4:38 AM. It is quite low on the eastern horizon, about seven-an-a-half degrees to Mars’s lower left. All three remain up well into daytime and, in the coming months, will populate the pre-sunrise sky.

Since Autumn began last week, let us consider the Fall constellations. Some “Summer Constellations” are misnamed. They rise in early summer, but are best seen in late summer or early fall. Between nightfall and midnight, the Andromeda saga is displayed. Her parents are Cepheus and Cassiopeia. Cepheus is house-shaped and points to the North Star. Cassiopeia looks like a “W” or “M”. Andromeda is depicted by a chain of stars that flow from the upper left of the Great Square of Pegasus, the horse. Perseus is a constellation below Cassiopeia with a long and a short leg. Cetus, the sea monster, swims low on the horizon. These constellations together account for twelve percent of the celestial sphere. Also visible are Lacerta, the lizard and Triangulum, the Triangle. All are in excellent position to be seen tonight.

Skywatch Line for Friday, September 25, through Sunday, September 27

This is Dudley Observatory’s Skywatch Line for Friday, September 25, through Sunday, September 27, written by Alan French.

This is an exciting weekend for amateur astronomers and casual sky watchers – we have a total lunar eclipse on Sunday night. The eclipse is well timed for the eastern United States, with the eclipse visible from start to finish.

When the Moon is full it is on the opposite side of our Earth from the Sun. Earth casts a shadow into space, and usually the Moon passes above or below the shadow and we simply enjoy a lovely full Moon. When the Moon moves through the shadow, we have a lunar eclipse. On Sunday night the Moon will move completely into the darkest part of the shadow, so we’ll have a total lunar eclipse.

The Earth’s shadow is composed of two parts. The lighter, outer penumbra is where Earth only blocks part of the Sun’s light. The darker, inner umbra Is where the Earth blocks all of the Sun’s direct light. Light, however, is bent or refracted as it travels through our atmosphere. It is also scattered, with the blue end of the spectrum scattered the most. The result is that the light bent into the darker part of our planet’s shadow is mostly red, so a totally eclipsed Moon may appear reddish. How colorful and how bright the eclipsed Moon appears depends on how many clouds are around the edge of the Earth, as seen from the Moon, and how many particulates are in our atmosphere. (Forest fires, volcanoes, and man-made pollution can darken an eclipse.) The Moon is illuminated by the sunrises and sunsets around the Earth.

The Moon will enter the penumbra, the brighter part of the shadow, at 8:12 pm, but it will be some time before the subtle penumbral shading will be visible on the Moon. You might spot it around 8:40 pm.

The Moon will move into the umbra at 9:07 pm and this darkening will be almost immediately obvious. By 10:11 pm the lunar orb will be entirely in the umbra and the eclipse will be total. The Moon will be in the southeast. The Moon will be deepest into the umbra at 10:47 pm and will start leaving the umbra at 11:23 pm, ending totality. It will slip completely out of the umbra at 12:27 am Monday morning, and the last subtle penumbral shading will be visible around 12:55 am. At 1:23 am the Moon will be completely out of the penumbra and the eclipse will be over.

As the Moon moves fully into and through the umbra look for color, perhaps red or copper. Also notice the darkness of the eclipsed Moon. The northern part of the Moon is deeper into the umbra, so it will probably look darker.

No special equipment is needed to watch and eclipse. It is lovely by eye. It can be interesting to watch with any modest optical aid too – binoculars or a small, lower power telescope.

If you’d like to join other people and have telescopic views of the eclipse, consider going to miSci for Dudley Observatory’s Night Sky Adventure: Total Lunar Eclipse. There is a modest admission charge.

Skywatch Line for Friday, September 25, through Sunday, September 27, written by Alan French

This is Dudley Observatory’s Skywatch Line for Friday, September 25, through Sunday, September 27, written by Alan French.

This is an exciting weekend for amateur astronomers and casual sky watchers – we have a total lunar eclipse on Sunday night. The eclipse is well timed for the eastern United States, with the eclipse visible from start to finish. 

When the Moon is full it is on the opposite side of our Earth from the Sun. Earth casts a shadow into space, and usually the Moon passes above or below the shadow and we simply enjoy a lovely full Moon. When the Moon moves through the shadow, we have a lunar eclipse. On Sunday night the Moon will move completely into the darkest part of the shadow, so we’ll have a total lunar eclipse. 

The Earth’s shadow is composed of two parts. The lighter, outer penumbra is where Earth only blocks part of the Sun’s light. The darker, inner umbra Is where the Earth blocks all of the Sun’s direct light. Light, however, is bent or refracted as it travels through our atmosphere. It is also scattered, with the blue end of the spectrum scattered the most. The result is that the light bent into the darker part of our planet’s shadow is mostly red, so a totally eclipsed Moon may appear reddish. How colorful and how bright the eclipsed Moon appears depends on how many clouds are around the edge of the Earth, as seen from the Moon, and how many particulates are in our atmosphere. (Forest fires, volcanoes, and man-made pollution can darken an eclipse.) The Moon is illuminated by the sunrises and sunsets around the Earth. 

The Moon will enter the penumbra, the brighter part of the shadow, at 8:12 pm, but it will be some time before the subtle penumbral shading will be visible on the Moon. You might spot it around 8:40 pm. 

The Moon will move into the umbra at 9:07 pm and this darkening will be almost immediately obvious. By 10:11 pm the lunar orb will be entirely in the umbra and the eclipse will be total. The Moon will be in the southeast. The Moon will be deepest into the umbra at 10:47 pm and will start leaving the umbra at 11:23 pm, ending totality. It will slip completely out of the umbra at 12:27 am Monday morning, and the last subtle penumbral shading will be visible around 12:55 am. At 1:23 am the Moon will be completely out of the penumbra and the eclipse will be over. 

As the Moon moves fully into and through the umbra look for color, perhaps red or copper. Also notice the darkness of the eclipsed Moon. The northern part of the Moon is deeper into the umbra, so it will probably look darker. 

No special equipment is needed to watch and eclipse. It is lovely by eye. It can be interesting to watch with any modest optical aid too – binoculars or a small, lower power telescope. 

 If you’d like to join other people and have telescopic views of the eclipse, consider going to miSci for Dudley Observatory’s Night Sky Adventure: Total Lunar Eclipse. There is a modest admission charge.

Night Sky Adventures at miSci Tuesday, October 20, 6 pm “Full Hunters Moon, Supermoon and Planet Conjunction”

On October 27th, the Moon will be located on the opposite side of the Earth as the Sun and its face will be fully illuminated. This full moon was known by early Native American tribes as the Full Hunters Moon because at this time of year the leaves are falling and the game is fat and ready to hunt. This is also the last of three supermoons for 2015 where it may look slightly larger and brighter than usual because its at its closest approach to the Earth.  And on October 28 a rare, 3-planet conjunction will be visible on the morning of October 28. Look to the east just before sunrise for this spectacular event where planets Venus, Mars, and Jupiter will form a tight 1-degree triangle.

Takes place at miSci, museum of innovation and science, 15 Nott Terrace Heights, Schenectady, New York 12308   518-382-7890

$ 3 per person, $5 per family, free for miSci members.

Lead by astronomy educators and volunteers from the Albany Area Amateur Astronomers group.  We practice identifying stars, constellations, and dark sky objects both through telescopes (weather permitting) and indoors in the planetarium.

Amateur astronomers and families are invited to bring binoculars or telescopes. One or more telescopes will be provided by The Dudley.

Family friendly!  Programs will be held rain or shine!

Dudley Observatory @ miSci
15 Nott Terrace Heights
Schenectady, NY 12308
www.dudleyobservatory.org
(518) 382-7890 ext 259
info@dudleyobservatory.org

Octagon Barn Lecture and Star Party, Friday, October 16, 2015, 7 pm

“Do Black Holes Destroy Information?”

Oleg Lunin, Ph. D., Assistant Professor of Physics, University at Albany 

How did the Universe begin? Do black holes destroy information? Can general relativity be unified with quantum mechanics? String theory, being the most promising approach to quantum gravity, attempts to answer these questions. After reviewing the properties of black holes and the information paradox associated with them, this talk will discuss the progress towards the resolution of the paradox made over the last decade.

At each Octagon Barn Star Party we provide an interesting and informative presentation in the barn along with light refreshments. If the sky is clear we head out to view the night sky. Telescopes are provided, amateur astronomers and families are invited to bring binoculars or telescopes as well. Programs will be held rain or shine. Check our website www.dudleyobservatory.org for details on the speakers at each party.

Monthly Astronomy Talks & Dark Sky Star Viewing, Delanson, New York, Fridays in 2015

Family friendly.  Programs will be held rain or shine.

Amateur astronomers and families are invited to bring binoculars or telescopes.

Free Admission – $5 donation graciously accepted

Octagon Barn, 588 Middle Road, Delanson NY 12053

Skywatch Line for Wednesday, September 23rd and Thursday, September 24th written by Louis Suarato.

This is the Dudley Observatory Skywatch Line for Wednesday, September 23rd and Thursday, September 24th written by Louis Suarato.

Autumn arrives in the Northern Hemisphere at 4:21 a.m. EDT Wednesday. This astronomical event, known as the Autumnal Equinox, occurs when the Earth’s celestial equator passes through the center of the Sun from north to south. It is during this time that the terminator is perpendicular to the equator and both hemispheres are equally illuminated. In our latitude, there will be 12 hours, 7 minutes and 51 seconds of daylight Wednesday. The Sun will rise due east and set due west on the day of the equinox.

After sunset, look for Saturn approximately 17 degrees above the southwestern horizon. The 77% illuminated, waxing gibbous Moon will be about 28 degrees above the south-southeastern horizon. Fomalhaut, also known as the Autumn Star, rises in the constellation Piscis Austrinus, at 8 p.m. above the southeastern horizon. Fomalhaut appears at its highest in September and remains above the southern horizon during the months of Autumn. It is the brightest star over that region in an area devoid of bright stars. Fomalhaut is 25.13 light-years away and shines at magnitude 1.15. Fomalhaut is the second brightest star as viewed from Earth, after Pollux, known to have a planetary system. Fomalhaut is a relatively young star estimated to be about 440 million years old. It is also a binary star with its companion star, Fomalhaut B, .91 light-years away from the main star.

Venus rises around 3:30 Thursday morning, followed by Mars a half hour later, and Jupiter at about 5:00. Leo’s brightest star, Regulus, and Mars will separated by less than a degree early Thursday and Friday mornings. Both Regulus and Mars will be 11 degrees to the lower left of Venus. Jupiter will be approximately 10 degrees to the lower left of Mars and Regulus.

Join the Dudley Observatory for the September 27th full lunar eclipse! On this night, the moon will pass through Earth’s shadow, making it appear blood red in the sky. The eclipse will occur from ~8:00pm to 1:30am the night of September 27th, with totality (full eclipse) occurring from ~10-11:30pm. miSci will be open (rain or shine) from 8-11:30pm with moon activities indoors and eclipse observing outdoors. Members of the Albany Area Amateur Astronomers group and Dudley Observatory Outreach Astronomer Valerie Rapson will be on hand with telescopes to help everyone enjoy the view. This is the last full lunar eclipse until 2018. You won’t want to miss it!

Moon activities and eclipse observing are free with museum admission. See misci.org/info for museum information.

Skywatch Line for Monday and Tuesday, September 21st and 22nd

This is the Dudley Observatory Skywatch Line for Monday and Tuesday, September 21st and 22nd written by Joe Slomka.

The Sun sets at 6:55 PM; night falls at 8:30. Dawn breaks at 5:07 AM and ends with the Sun rising at 6:42.

The Moon officially turned First Quarter early Monday morning, but rose in our skies in the afternoon. The eight-day-old Moon is already quite bright, at magnitude minus 10.1 and inhabits Sagittarius both nights. It appears a bit more than half illuminated and sets after midnight.

Saturn is the only other brilliant object in our sky. Saturn still resides in Libra and appears midway between Libra and the head of Scorpius. By nightfall, it is only ten-and-a-half degrees high and sets about 9:30 PM.

Twilight’s end reveals the distant planets Neptune and Uranus. Neptune is nearly eighth magnitude in Aquarius, and Uranus is a brighter 5.7 in Pisces. Both require charts, which are found in astronomy magazines, websites and apps. Neptune is best observed at 11:30 PM, and Uranus at 2:04 AM. Neptune sets at 5 AM, while Uranus remains up past sunrise.

By 10 PM, Perseus is moderately up in the eastern sky. At 11:30 PM on Tuesday, the star Algol (also known as Beta Persei) dims. Algol, the “Demon Star,” varies its light every 2 days, 20 hours and 49 minutes. It fades from second magnitude to third – easily seen by the naked eye. The entire cycle takes about nine hours. John Goodricke theorized that a dimmer star was partially eclipsing a brighter star. In 1889, the new technique of spectroscopy verified this theory. The main star is one hundred times the Sun’s luminosity. The eclipsing star is actually slightly brighter than our Sun. There is a third star that orbits the system once every 1.8 years, but plays little part in the occultation. The system is about 96 light years away and the most easily studied “eclipsing binary.” Astronomy magazines and websites provide timetables of its eclipses. Begin observing about 10 PM.

Astronomical Dawn sees the arrival of three bright planets. Venus rises first, at 3:27 AM. It blazes in the dim constellation Cancer. Under magnification, it appears about a third illuminated. Mars emerges a half hour later and is about eleven degrees to Venus’ lower left. Mars lies about one-and-a-half degrees from Leo’s brightest star, Regulus. Jupiter brings up the rear, rising before 5 AM. All three are great observing targets and all will remain in our skies for the rest of the year. They also experience several close conjunctions later this month.

The Vernal Equinox takes place at 4:21 AM Wednesday. This happens when the Sun dives below the projection of Earth’s equator on to the sky. The Sun also rises exactly East and sets exactly West. The word “equinox” means, “equal night.” Indeed, day lasts 12 hours and night also lasts 12 hours. This event signals the beginning of Fall for the Northern Hemisphere and Spring for those in the Southern Hemisphere.