Summer Stargazing Nights

Summer Stargazing Nights

Frosty Drew Observatory
Friday August 4, 2017 at 6:00 p.m
$1 Suggested Donation per Person

Tonight is Stargazing Night at Frosty Drew Observatory and forecasts are very variable at this time. We can likely expect mostly clear skies just before sunset, becoming cloudy very quickly after sunset with fog and possibly t-storms setting in overnight. We also have the 91% waning gibbous Moon rising later this afternoon and sticking around until near pre-dawn tomorrow morning. The annual Seafood Festival will be taking place this weekend in Ninigret Park (home to Frosty Drew) and will bring a large increase in visitors to the park as well as an increase in artificial light over the Observatory, which will go unnoticed due to the super bright gibbous Moon. Clouds will eventually overtake our skies, though we will keep telescopes opened as long we have a view.

We plan to open the Observatory and Sky Theatre at 6:00 p.m. In the Observatory we will have our Hydrogen Alpha telescope setup on the solar chromosphere showcasing any prominence or sunspots visible. Once the Sun sets we will switch over to night sky mode with Jupiter’s moons, Saturn's rings, the Moon, and binary stars on display. We will stay open until 11:30 p.m. or until clouds or fog crash our party, whichever comes first. We’ll post a “Closing Up” message to our Twitter (@FrostyDrewOBSY) and Facebook once we decide to close up.

Overall, tonight is not the best night to be out. The bright 91% gibbous Moon will easily dominate the starscape, making most objects too dim to be seen in the stunning moonlight. Additionally, fog and clouds will move in quite quick after sunset, eventually rendering the sky overcast. Note that you may encounter parking attendants for the Seafood Festival that may stop you en route to Frosty Drew. If so, kindly notify them that you are visiting Frosty Drew Observatory and they will let you pass. you DO NOT NEED TO PAY FOR PARKING at Frosty Drew Observatory. Also note, that Seafood Festival parking staff are unaware of Frosty Drew scheduling, so do not turn around and go home if told that the Observatory is closed. If you’re in the local area or just need a quick astro-fix before the Perseid Meteor Shower and Solar Eclipse, then stop in for a bump and catch up on what’s happening in our cosmic corner of the galaxy.

Weekly Happenings
Scott MacNeill

Miss out on this summer’s Fourth of July fireworks? Perhaps one fireworks display is just not enough? Well catch up on some mid-summer fun in Ninigret Park tomorrow night (Saturday, August 5th) at 9:00 p.m. with a fabulous fireworks display compliments of the annual Charlestown Seafood Festival.

We are in the final stretch as the Perseid Meteor Shower continues to ramp up for the August 11-13th peak period. The Perseid Shower gets it name from the constellation that meteors appear to originate from. In this case the Perseid Shower radiates from the constellation Perseus. Though the actual meteors are left over particles from Comet 109p/Swift-Tuttle which reside along a path that intersects with Earth’s orbit. Every August, Earth catches up with the debris field resulting in a fabulous display of tiny comet particles burning up in Earth’s atmosphere. 2017 is not the best year to catch the Perseid Meteor Shower peak, largely due to the bright waning gibbous Moon, which will rise shortly after 10:00 p.m. on August 11th and just before 11:00 p.m. on August 12th. Additionally, the peak period of the shower will happen during daytime hours over North America. This will result in us seeing about half the regular rate of meteor activity. The Perseid Shower usually produces upwards of 100 meteors per hour under excellent viewing conditions. Regardless, if skies are clear(er) we will be out at Frosty Drew Observatory celebrating the fabulous display of meteor awesome on Friday August, 11th and Saturday, August 12th. So stop in for a night of shooting stars with us.

What will you be doing for the Great American Solar Eclipse on Monday, August 21st? If staying in Rhode Island, be sure to stop in at Frosty Drew Observatory to catch a safe view of the 67% partial solar eclipse.

Solar eclipse’s happen when the Moon arrives at the point in its orbit around the Earth in between the Sun, this is commonly referred to as the New Moon. Because the Moon orbits the Earth inclined 5.1º to the ecliptic (the plane of Earth’s orbit around the Sun) we only experience a solar eclipse when the lunar orbital plane crosses the Earth’s orbital plane during a New Moon. Otherwise, the New Moon will pass above or below the Sun when viewed from Earth.

It is very important to note that safe naked eye viewing of the solar eclipse in Rhode Island, or any time from any location outside of the period of total eclipse, will not be possible. Please to not attempt to look directly at the Sun without adequate eye protection. Using American Astronomical Society (AAS) approved ISO 12312-2 certified Eclipse Glasses, handheld viewers, or #14 welders glass will allow for safe observation of the Sun. Frosty Drew Observatory will have solar telescopes setup offering safe solar viewing, as well as other viewing aides. We have a limited supply of Eclipse Glasses that we will have available for visitors to use. Put Frosty Drew Observatory on your calendar and celebrate a fabulous summertime event with us.