- Frosty Drew Observatory
- Friday April 12, 2013 at 8:00 p.m.
- Free! Donations Appreciated.
Conditions aren’t looking very good for observing this evening, but, instead, if you’d like to learn about a satellite that is attempting to map the outer reaches of our solar system, the University of Rhode Island Planetarium will be showing the program “IBEX.” In our continuing exploration of our neighborhood, this craft is trying to determine the farthest reaches of Sun’s influence. Made for all ages, this program will begin at 6:00 P.M. The URI Planetarium is located on the corner of Upper College Road and Engineering Row. Admission is only $5.00, to benefit both the Planetarium and Frosty Drew Memorial funds, and each person will receive an 8X10 picture of IBEX, containing information as to its mission. Afterward, we will show “The Skies of Frosty Drew,” then, if the weather does clear, you are all invited to travel down to Ninigret Park for firsthand views of the real sky.
Next week, in addition to the possibility of observing during our regular Friday nights, Frosty Drew will celebrate, along with many astronomy groups across the country, Astronomy Day. Meant to introduce the love of the subject to many people, we will have, weather permitting, daytime solar observations, allowing you to safely observe the Sun, watch for any sunspots or solar activity, and be able to time the speed at which the Sun appears to move in our sky. There will also be information on comets, the Mars Curiosity mission, a showing of The City Dark - an introduction to the loss of the night – plus observing the waxing-gibbous Moon, the phase between 1st quarter and Full, if the skies allow. Observing the Sun begins about 5:00 P.M., so come join us for an evening of daytime and nighttime astronomy. For those of you who aren’t able to come to Charlestown, Skyscrapers, Inc., will also be celebrating the Day at Seagrave Memorial Observatory on Peeptoad Road, in Scituate. For information, and directions, please visit http://www.theskyscrapers.org.
Frosty Drew Observatory is proud to be located at the darkest skies in Rhode Island. Please help us to keep our skies as dark as possible.
Tonight’s forecast is calling for rain, fog and wind. So the observatory telescopes will likely remain closed. The 5% waxing crescent Moon, which sets tonight at 9:49, would have given us great viewing conditions to observe nebulae and galaxies. We have had a few surprise clear nights at Frosty Drew this year when it was supposed to be cloudy or raining. If tonight clears up, we will surely post an update on the Frosty Drew Observatory Twitter.
Yesterday at 3:16 a.m. EDT the Sun emitted the strongest solar flare seen this year so far. The M6.5 flare was accompanied by an Earth-directed coronal mass ejection (CME). M-class flares are the weakest classification of solar flares that can have a visible impact on Earth, usually in the form of beautiful Aurora Borealis displays. Solar flares are becoming quite common at the moment, since the sun's normal 11-year activity cycle is approaching solar maximum later this year. Aurora watchers, keep your eyes to the skies as the time around solar maximum is when we have a likelihood of seeing the Northern Lights at latitudes as low as (if not lower than) Rhode Island.
Next weekend (April 20-21) NASA and over 150 partners worldwide will be hosting the International Space Apps Challenge. The International Space Apps Challenge is a technology developed event during which citizens from around the world work together to solve challenges relevant to improving life on Earth and in space. If you have any software or hardware engineering skills, or just like to tinker with web / mobile app development, consider getting involved. Visit the Space Apps Challenge website to learn more about the challenges and how to get involved.
Keep looking up! Saturn has moved into our viewing times and May is galaxy month. Great things are happening!