Public Observation Night
- Frosty Drew Observatory
- Friday August 17, 2012 at 8:30 p.m.
- Free! Donations Appreciated.
Tonight's weather forecasts are appearing to be varied, so please check conditions at your homes or the Frosty Drew Twitter (@FrostyDrewOBSY) to learn whether Frosty Drew will be able to open this evening. If so, we may be able to see very early glimpses of Mars and Saturn, as, because they are both within the constellation Virgo, which is a prominent member of the springtime sky,they are leaving our view early in the evening. Also, the Moon is a very thin crescent, meaning it also is low in the west after sunset.There are two passes of the International Space Station, the first appearing low in the northwest at 8:19, reaching its highest 14 degree point a moment later, finally disappearing low in the north-northwest at 8:22. The second will arrive low in the north-northwest at 9:55, travel up to 20 degrees, then disappear three minutes later in the north-northeast.The Curiosity craft, which recently landed on our neighbor planet Mars, is beginning to wake up and start its observations. If you haven't been following this unique machine, please check http://www.nasa.gov/Curiosity or http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl for information on this incredible mission to Mars. Also, another important set of craft, RBSP, is set to launch this week. These two small satellites will, for at least the next two years, be traveling through our own planet's radiation belts, monitoring them for change. For any of you with such instruments as cell phones and televisions, you might want to learn how their information will affect you, and consequently, your standard of living.Frosty Drew is grateful to be situated in Charlestown, the town with the darkest skies in the state. This will allow us to continue our mission of astronomy education.-Francine Jackson-------------------------------------------------------------------------Tonight's forecast is calling for T-storms and mostly cloudy skies. This will significantly hinder our views on an otherwise perfect night for observation. The Moon tonight is in its new phase meaning we will have no Moon to obscure deep sky object observation. We will plan to open the observatory at 8:30 if the skies permit, which is looking less likely at this point.Did anybody catch a glimpse of the fabulous Perseid meteor shower that has continued for most of this past week? The peak of the Perseid meteor shower was this past Sunday morning (August 12) but the meteors just kept coming. This is not so uncommon for the Persend meteor shower which, in the past, has delivered poor viewing on the peak with spectacular off peak views. This has also been quite fortunate for us New England star gazers who were under clouds for the peak. Check the Frosty Drew Facebook or website for some photos of the Perseids that were taken at Frost Drew Observatory. If you were able to catch a shot of a Perseid, please post on our Facebook and we will share it to our timeline.Now that the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) also known as Curiosity is on Mars, many pictures and data have been coming back. This offers many great opportunity's for those of us with a creative tick. The data is public domain data meaning the public freely has access to it. Using this data, citizen scientists (You and me) can create panoramic images, time-lapse sequence video, and investigate the Martian surface and terrain using image processing and analytical tools. As an example, here is a time-lapse video I created using images that Curiosity sent back during its descent to the martian surface: http://youtu.be/lrRE5XC3k_Y. Visit http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl and look around at the possibilities.Keep looking up. Great things are happening!-Scott MacNeill