- Frosty Drew Observatory
- Friday April 26, 2013 at 8:00 p.m.
- Free! Donations Appreciated.
Tonight’s sky seems to be promising for observing – all we have to do is hope we don’t have incredible wind gusts as we've have had recently – and the observatory will be open, beginning at dusk, which you might have noticed is coming later with each passing day. Jupiter will be leaving the sky rather early, as it is setting with the winter stars, where it is located right now. Saturn rises early in the evening, but tonight it is right next to the just-passed Full Moon, so it will be a little less than the perfect planet it is usually seen as.
There is a pass of the International Space Station this evening, beginning at 8:50, where it will appear out of the western horizon. For about five minutes it will travel toward the south, then disappear. We also have two passes of the X-37B, but, with the Moon as bright as it is, they may be difficult to view, but, we’ll try, anyway, beginning at 8:05, then later at 9:42.
For those of you who’d like to learn more about astronomy, we will be having the Introduction class beginning Saturday, May 11th, then running the 18th and June 1st. It will introduce you to the history of our beloved science, the planets, and finally, stars and galaxies. All classes begin at 2:00 P.M., and run for about 2 hours. For more information, come on down to Frosty Drew on a Friday evening, or call the organization and leave a message.
Don’t forget to put on your running shoes and join us for the 4th annual Frosty Drew 5K run/walk next Saturday, May 4th. This takes you on a scenic tour of much of Ninigret Park that’s not often seen, and is really fun for all. John Veradian will have us singing the run song, and winners take home apple pies. See The Frosty Drew Classic 5k for more information.
Also, the next University of Rhode Island/Frosty Drew planetarium presentation will be Friday, May 10th, on the URI campus, Upper College Road. The program will be Professor Philip Morrison’s Powers of Ten, updated with related background material supplied by Physics Lab Manager Steve Pellegrino. We will show it at 6:00 and 7:00 P.M., followed by a few minutes of The Skies of Frosty Drew, then all are invited to travel to the real skies after the program. Admission is $5.00, to benefit both the URI Planetarium and Frosty Drew Memorial funds.
Frosty Drew Observatory is located at the darkest skies in Rhode Island. Please help us to keep them as dark as possible.
Tonight's forecast is calling for partly cloudy skies becoming clear overnight. The 99% waning gibbous moon rises at 9:04 p.m. and will significantly brighten up the sky making observation of nebulae and galaxies not possible. We will attempt to open the observatory between 8:00 and 8:30 with views of Jupiter and possibly comet PanSTARRS after which we will view Saturn and the bright moon. Visit the Observatory page on our website or follow us on Twitter to stay current with conditions at the observatory tonight.
Yesterday, the first lunar eclipse of 2013 took place. The partial lunar eclipse started at 2:03 p.m. and ended at 6:11 p.m. making the eclipse not visible to New England sky watchers. Being that this was a partial lunar eclipse, most observers were not expecting anything spectacular but as the eclipse commenced, many fascinating photos started to show up online. Here is one such photo from Macedonia. Though we missed this eclipse in New England, on October 18th a Penumbral Lunar Eclipse will take place and will be visible to all of us in New England.
Early Sunday morning (April 28) Saturn will reach opposition. This is the point at which Saturn is on the opposite side of planet Earth than the Sun. This also means that Saturn is at its closest point to Earth for the viewing season. This is the not only the best time to snap that perfect photograph of Saturn but also a great time to observe Saturn and its beautiful rings. If skies permit we will be viewing Saturn tonight so be sure to stop in for some great views. If clouds block our views tonight be sure to stop in at Seagrave Observatory in North Scituate tomorrow night for a second chance.
This coming week the peak of the Eta Aquarid Meteor Shower will begin. The peak period lasts from May 4 – May 7 with the early morning hours of the 5th and 6th being the best time to spot the most meteors. The Eta Aquarid shower is an average meteor shower producing upwards of 10 meteors per hour during peak times. The thin waning crescent Moon will rise in the hours before dawn offering spectacular views and will not hinder visibility of Eta Aquarid meteors. If sky conditions are optimal we may be on site at Frosty Drew Observatory to observe the Eta Aquarids.
Keep your eyes to the sky as our best viewing season is about to begin!