Astronomy

Telescopes are out on the patio every night! Astronomers are on hand to assist with viewing and taking photos.

Where else in the galaxy can you get solar powered drinks and take pictures of the Orion Nebula?!?
Expanding your mind and eye to the universe can bring an amazing awakening.

Fall Astronomy Hours
Sun – Wed 7pm-10pm
Thurs 7pm-11pm
Fri – Sat 7pm-12am

October 8 – Draconids Meteor Shower

.The Draconids is a minor meteor shower producing only about 10 meteors per hour. It is produced by dust grains left behind by comet 21P Giacobini-Zinner, which was first discovered in 1900. The Draconids is an unusual shower in that the best viewing is in the early evening instead of early morning like most other showers. The shower runs annually from October 6-10 and peaks this year on the the night of the 8th. The first quarter moon will set shortly after midnight leaving fairly dark skies for observing. Best viewing will be in the early evening from a dark location far away from city lights. Meteors will radiate from the constellation Draco, but can appear anywhere in the sky.

October 13 – Full Moon

The Moon will be located on the opposite side of the Earth as the Sun and its face will be will be fully illuminated. This phase occurs at 21:09 UTC. 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 moon has also been known as the Travel Moon and the Blood Moon.

October 20 – Mercury at Greatest Eastern Elongation

The planet Mercury reaches greatest eastern elongation of 24.6 degrees from the Sun. This is the best time to view Mercury since it will be at its highest point above the horizon in the evening sky. Look for the planet low in the western sky just after sunset.

October 21, 22 – Orionids Meteor Shower

The Orionids is an average shower producing up to 20 meteors per hour at its peak. It is produced by dust grains left behind by comet Halley, which has been known and observed since ancient times. The shower runs annually from October 2 to November 7. It peaks this year on the night of October 21 and the morning of October 22. The second quarter moon will block some of the fainter meteors this year, but the Orionids tend to be fairly bright so it could still be a good show. Best viewing will be from a dark location after midnight. Meteors will radiate from the constellation Orion, but can appear anywhere in the sky.

October 27 – Uranus at Opposition

The blue-green planet will be at its closest approach to Earth and its face will be fully illuminated by the Sun. It will be brighter than any other time of the year and will be visible all night long. This is the best time to view Uranus. Due to its distance, it will only appear as a tiny blue-green dot in all but the most powerful telescopes.

November 5, 6 – Taurids Meteor Shower

The Taurids is a long-running minor meteor shower producing only about 5-10 meteors per hour. It is unusual in that it consists of two separate streams. The first is produced by dust grains left behind by Asteroid 2004 TG10. The second stream is produced by debris left behind by Comet 2P Encke. The shower runs annually from September 7 to December 10. It peaks this year on the the night of November 5. The first quarter moon will set shortly after midnight leaving dark skies for viewing. Best viewing will be just after midnight from a dark location far away from city lights. Meteors will radiate from the constellation Taurus, but can appear anywhere in the sky.

November 11 – Rare Transit of Mercury Across the Sun

The planet Mercury will move directly between the Earth and the Sun. Viewers with telescopes and approved solar filters will be able to observe the dark disk of the planet Mercury moving across the face of the Sun. This is an extremely rare event that occurs only once every few years. The next transit of Mercury will not take place until 2039. This transit will be visible throughout all of South America and Central America, and parts of North America, Mexico, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. The best place to view this event in its entirety will be the eastern United States, Central America, and South America.

November 12 – Full Moon

The Moon will be located on the opposite side of the Earth as the Sun and its face will be will be fully illuminated. This phase occurs at 13:36 UTC. This full moon was known by early Native American tribes as the Full Beaver Moon because this was the time of year to set the beaver traps before the swamps and rivers froze. It has also been known as the Frosty Moon and the Hunter’s Moon.

November 17, 18 – Leonids Meteor Shower

 The Leonids is an average shower, producing up to 15 meteors per hour at its peak. This shower is unique in that it has a cyclonic peak about every 33 years where hundreds of meteors per hour can be seen. That last of these occurred in 2001. The Leonids is produced by dust grains left behind by comet Tempel-Tuttle, which was discovered in 1865. The shower runs annually from November 6-30. It peaks this year on the night of the 17th and morning of the 18th. The second quarter moon will block many of the fainter meteors this year, but if you are patient you should be able to catch quite a few of the brightest ones. Best viewing will be from a dark location after midnight. Meteors will radiate from the constellation Leo, but can appear anywhere in the sky.

November 24 – Conjunction of Venus and Jupiter

A conjunction of Venus and Jupiter will be visible on November 24. The two bright planets will be visible within 1.4 degrees of each other in the evening sky. Look for this impressive sight in the western sky just after sunset.

December 12 – Full Moon

The Moon will be located on the opposite side of the Earth as the Sun and its face will be will be fully illuminated. This phase occurs at 05:14 UTC. This full moon was known by early Native American tribes as the Full Cold Moon because this is the time of year when the cold winter air settles in and the nights become long and dark. This moon has also been known as the Full Long Nights Moon and the Moon Before Yule.

December 13, 14 – Geminids Meteor Shower

 The Geminids is the king of the meteor showers. It is considered by many to be the best shower in the heavens, producing up to 120 multicolored meteors per hour at its peak. It is produced by debris left behind by an asteroid known as 3200 Phaethon, which was discovered in 1982. The shower runs annually from December 7-17. It peaks this year on the night of the 13th and morning of the 14th. Unfortunately the nearly full moon will block out many of the meteors this year, but the Geminids are so bright and numerous that it could still be a good show. Best viewing will be from a dark location after midnight. Meteors will radiate from the constellation Gemini, but can appear anywhere in the sky.

December 22 – December Solstice

The December solstice occurs at 04:19 UTC. The South Pole of the earth will be tilted toward the Sun, which will have reached its southernmost position in the sky and will be directly over the Tropic of Capricorn at 23.44 degrees south latitude. This is the first day of winter (winter solstice) in the Northern Hemisphere and the first day of summer (summer solstice) in the Southern Hemisphere.

December 21, 22 – Ursids Meteor Shower

The Ursids is a minor meteor shower producing about 5-10 meteors per hour. It is produced by dust grains left behind by comet Tuttle, which was first discovered in 1790. The shower runs annually from December 17 – 25. It peaks this year on the the night of the 21st and morning of the 22nd. The waning crescent moon should not interfere too much this year. Skies should still be dark enough for what could be a good show. Best viewing will be just after midnight from a dark location far away from city lights. Meteors will radiate from the constellation Ursa Minor, but can appear anywhere in the sky.

These images were taken from our own telescopes: 8″ Celestron Nexstar with Hyperstar lense and Starlight Express CCD imager, White DOB, 12″ Meade dobsonion reflector, 14″ Meade lx 200 autostar with ACF (advanced coma free) coatings.