Public Observation Night
- Frosty Drew Observatory
- Friday September 14, 2012 at 7:30 p.m.
- Free! Donations Appreciated.
As usual, all the weather reports for this area are different, leading us to just check the skies once we get to Frosty Drew to determine whether the telescope will be able to open; however, in anticipation for next week’s International Observe the Moon Night, we will have the Moon rock and meteorite disks in the Sky Theatre available for your observing tonight from 6:00 to 8:30 P.M. These priceless pieces of material are on loan from NASA, and are national treasures. Please come to see them tonight, especially if you are unable to come next weekend.There are no passes of the International Space Station this evening, but we will be having a flare from Iridium Satellite #32 at 9:00 P.M. This could possibly be bright enough to be seen, even if there are slight cloudy conditions.Remember: Next weekend we will be joining with observatories all over the world in celebrating the International Observe the Moon Night, Saturday, September 22nd. We will be having videos on the Moon from some of the current space craft traveling around it, plus the Moon rock and meteor disks on display, in addition to demonstrations concerning our nearest neighbor, and, of course, the telescope will have the Moon, which will be in its 1st quarter phase, in its sights all evening, weather permitting. And, because we are fortunate enough to have the NASA exhibit here, we will begin our Moon celebration next Friday evening, September 21st. Also, we are very privileged to have, on Saturday evening as a speaker, Thawn Harris, storyteller extraordinaire, who will introduce us to traditional sky stories. Next weekend will be very interesting for everyone, so please come and help us celebrate our only natural satellite.If you plan to come to Frosty Drew next Saturday, think of coming earlier, as the entire Ninigret Park will be celebrating its Harvest Festival. This will begin at 10:00 A.M., and continue all day, so please think of spending an enjoyable day in Charlestown.With no planets in the sky in the early evening, if the weather does cooperate, we will be concentrating on some of the deep-sky objects not very visible when the Moon is available; however, our two outer planets, Uranus and Neptune, are within range, so if you’d like to see them, they may be observed tonight.Elsewhere, on Mars, the Curiosity space craft has spent the last few weeks checking all of its equipment, while getting ready for it actual mission – to travel up the spire within Gale Crater, looking for any sign of organic material. Mars is the only planet in our system where we could quite possibly be able to travel to and, with a lot of equipment, stay awhile. It is known that there was a lot of water on the planet in its past, so Curiosity is trying to determine if any kind of life could have existed there at any time.For those of you in the more northerly part of the state, as of this writing the Brown facility, Ladd Observatory, is being readied to open its doors once again to the public this coming Tuesday evening. Check their website to confirm, but it will be good to see this fine old building, which has been closed all summer for repairs, up and running again.We’d like to thank the Charlestown Police for their kindness in storing our NASA disks for the duration of our time with them. -Francine Jackson-------------------------------------------------------------------------Tonight's forecast is looking quite promising for the evening. We can expect mostly clear skies till about 11:00 after which partly cloudy to mostly cloudy skies with fog will move in. Add the fact that tonight's Moon is in its new phase, we could have a fantastic few hours of observation. We will open the observatory at 7:45 with views of binary stars and once twilight fizzles out we will be showing a host of deep sky objects including nebulae, and star clusters. Tonight, the observatory will have a set closing time of 11:30 due to schedule conflicts.During the late spring and summer months, the brighter Sagittarius arm of the Milky Way galaxy is quite visible over Frosty Drew Observatory. This summer we have had many cloud struck nights which has severely limited our viewing of this beautiful site. July is the best month to observe the Milky Way at Frosty Drew Observatory but the Milky Way is still quite visible at Frosty Drew until midnight. Tonight will likely be a great night to observe the summer Milky Way before it moves out of our skies for the year. Be sure to bring out binoculars and ask Frosty Drew astronomers to point out objects that make great binocular targets.This past Monday (September, 10) at 7:35 a.m. EDT Jupiter experienced a massive impact of either a small comet or asteroid that resulted in a fireball on the planet bright enough to be spotted by earth bound observers with backyard telescopes. Jupiter is occasionally the target of such impacts with this event being the fourth reported strike since July 2009. Past impact events on Jupiter have left temporary black scars on Jupiter’s cloud tops. With Jupiter rising earlier every night (tonight at 10:41) we will be sure to look closely for any scaring left behind by Monday's impact event.Next Saturday (September 22) be sure to make plans to be in Ninigret Park for the annual Harvest Festival starting at 10:00 a.m. After which be sure to spend the evening at Frosty Drew Observatory & Sky Theatre for International Observe the Moon Night. Saturday September 22 is also the Autumn Equinox also known as the first day of fall. A Harvest Festival followed by Lunar observation make a great way to celebrate the first day of fall.-Scott MacNeill