Stargazing Nights

Stargazing Nights

Frosty Drew Observatory
Friday November 4, 2016 at 6:00 p.m.
$1 Suggested Donation per Person

Tonight is Stargazing Night at Frosty Drew Observatory and forecasts are looking fantastic! We can expect mostly clear to clear skies all night long. Add in that the super sexy 21% waxing crescent Moon will be with us at sunset and hang stunningly in the western sky until it sets at 9:20 p.m., and we are in for an amazing night. The thin crescent Moon will not overpower the fabulous starscape but will offer up mesmerizing views of the cratered surface with a brilliant display of Earthshine, which is sunlight reflecting off of the Earth illuminating the shadow side of the Moon. The early moonset will allow for even darker skies later in the night for all of us astro-geeks to celebrate. We also have the Taurid Meteor Shower, which is starting to kick in over Frosty Drew, and the dark skies tonight will make for excellent fireball spotting. There is a diminishing threat of wind gusts above our optimal threshold which could restrict our viewing to the East and Southeast sky. Though tonight is certainly a night to be out!

We will open the Observatory and Sky Theatre at 6:00 p.m. In the Observatory telescopes will showcase an early twilight view of Venus followed by fabulous views of the crescent Moon. A handful of binary stars will be on display as well as star clusters and nebulae. In the Sky Theatre we will feature our showcase of celestial objects photographed at Frosty Drew Observatory with warm temps inside offering a break from the cooler temps of late autumn nights. We will stay on site until 11:30 p.m. at the earliest, with potential for geek outs way into the morning hours. Check in on our Twitter (@FrostyDrewOBSY) or Facebook for updates from the Observatory. We will post a “Closing up” message when we decide to call it a night.

Overall, tonight looks like a welcome change from much of the clouded out or super hazy nights we have had lately. The fabulous 21% crescent Moon coupled with blazing autumn starscapes will make for a near perfect night if the wind can stay calm. Temps will plunge into the 30’s overnight making for winter-like conditions. Dressing properly will make the difference between a miserable night in the cold and a fabulous astronomy experience. A heavy coat with a wind resistant shell, gloves, hat, and boots are a necessity! Now gear up and get ready for an amazing night out under the striking starscape of Frosty Drew Observatory.

Weekly Happenings
Scott MacNeill

On Saturday, November 12, 2016, the North Taurid Meteor Shower will peak. All together the Taurid shower is not really that spectacular. What makes it notable is the number of fireball meteors this shower brings with it. The Taurids are known to produce a significant increase in meteors bright enough to light up the ground or break apart as they blaze the sky, called “fragmentation”. Last year was a remarkable year for bright Taurid fireball meteors due to a rather dense area of debris, left behind by Comet Encke, that Earth passed through. This year’s path through the comet’s debris field may not be as dense, though fireballs are still on the ticket. Also, you do not need to be out during the peak period to catch a view of a passing fireball and reports have been coming in showing an increase in fireball activity due to the Taurids. So step out and welcome the cooler side of autumn with some fireball sightings compliments of the North Taurid Meteor Shower.

Calling all future engineers, space travelers, and teachers! In the 2030’s, NASA is sending the first astronauts to Mars. This means that the first person to set foot on Mars is walking around on planet Earth today. And they probably don’t even know it’s them! This mission will likely be the most ambitious and groundbreaking mission of our lifetime and you could be on it. Want to be part of the awesome? Well here is your chance. The Mars Medical Challenge put on by Future Engineers is putting a shout out to K-12 creative thinkers and problem solvers across the United States. The challenge is to design a 3D printable medical device that will be printed by astronauts on their journey to Mars. The Mars mission will last upwards of 3 years making for many unforeseen issues and the need for frequent replacement of basic everyday devices. Being able to 3D print parts and supplies will be a critical requirement for the success of the mission. If you are in grades K-12, this challenge is for you! The requirement: Design a digital 3D model of an object that can be used by an astronaut to maintain physical health on a 3-year mission to Mars. Your design goal can be for a range of medical needs including preventative, diagnostic, dental, surgical, first-aid, or emergency purposes. Think basic, like tongue depressor on one side, tooth pick on the other. Check out the following challenge video, then head over to Future Engineers to sign up and get started. I don’t know about you, but any opportunity to be involved in humanity’s first crewed mission to Mars is an amazing one!

Remember to turn the clocks back one hour at 2:00 on Sunday morning (November 6, 2016) as we return to Eastern Standard Time. If you’re have trouble remembering which way to adjust your clock, here’s a quick mnemonic to help you out: “In the Fall, clocks fall back one hour. In the Spring, clocks spring ahead one hour”. You know that you’re an astro-geek if the Autumn EST change means an additional hour of stargazing instead of an additional hour of sleep. Do it!