Stargazing Nights

Stargazing Nights

Frosty Drew Observatory
Friday October 20, 2017 at 6:30 p.m
$1 Suggested Donation per Person

Tonight is Stargazing Night at Frosty Drew Observatory and the forecast looks amazing! We can expect clear skies all night long with cool temps and calm winds. This is a total score! The New Moon happened last night, placing tonight’s Moon at 1% waxing crescent, setting just behind the Sun. That means super dark skies all night long. Add in that the Orionid Meteor Shower peaks overnight tonight and we are lined up for a night of amazing things!

The Observatory will open at 6:30 p.m. tonight. Telescopes will start off with twilight views of Saturn’s rings and binary stars. Once twilight wanes we will direct our telescopes towards dozens of nebulae, star clusters, and galaxies as the vast starscape of a dark Frosty Drew night overtakes us. Later in the night, when Orionid meteors start becoming more frequent, we will step outside and watch shooting stars blaze the night sky. We’ll plan on closing the large telescope around 11:30 p.m., though we will likely be out much later reveling in the meteor shower.

Overall, tonight is the night we’ve been waiting for! Fantastically clear and dark skies, with the added bonus of a meteor shower peak. This is a night to bring your blanket and lawn chair to lay under the stars and lose yourself in the cosmic expanse. Orionid meteors will become more frequent after midnight as the Orion constellation rises, continuing until sunrise. So make tonight your special night with the cosmos and become fast friends with your inner astro-geek.

Weekly Happenings
Scott MacNeill

Overnight tonight (October 20-21) and possibly tomorrow night, the Orionid Meteor Shower peak is happening. Bringing a 20 meteor per hour increase in regular meteor activity, the Orionid shower is a small but active shower. Orionid meteors are tiny pieces of debris left behind by Halley’s Comet, which passes by Earth once every 75 years. While crossing Earth’s orbit, Halley’s Comet will experience out-gassing due to its encounter with the solar wind, which leaves rice-size grains of ice and rock that reside along our orbit. Every October, Earth encounters the debris field allowing for the tiny grains of meteor to enter our atmosphere and burn up in a beautiful display of shooting star goodness. Catching sight of the Orionid shower is a cake walk. Set out after midnight to a dark location free of light pollution, trees, and tall buildings. Kick back in a lawn chair with a blanket so you are facing the zenith (top of the sky) and watch up-to 20 meteors per hour blaze the sky. Since the Orionids are not as active as the Geminids or Perseids, bring along binoculars and revel in the fantastic starscape under a beautiful autumn night sky.

Uranus was at opposition yesterday (October 19), which happens when Earth arrives at the point in its yearly orbit around the Sun where Uranus is on the opposite side of Earth than the Sun. This places Uranus in a fantastic viewing position for nearly all night long tonight. For the remainder of Uranus’ viewing season, the blue planet will be visible after sunset. Make a point to get out and see Uranus this autumn.

Save the Date: Friday, October 27, 2017 at 6:30 p.m. will be our annual Spooky Views event. Stop in for a night of stargazing at Frosty Drew Observatory, which will be in full out Halloween mode with frightful sights, spooky sounds, and candy available for all who visit. On display will be the first quarter Moon, Saturn, Uranus, and a handful of planetary nebulae – the stellar demise of Sun-like stars. So get your scare on with us at Frosty Drew Observatory and kick off a fabulous Halloween weekend with the cosmos.

Save the Date: Saturday, October 28, 2017 is International Observe the Moon Night and Frosty Drew Observatory will be hosting a night of lunar observing in celebration. We start at 6:00 p.m. with views of the Moon across multiple telescopes, including a live projection. The Observatory will be in full out Halloween mode and the Moon will be in the spotlight. So stop in and join us in making amends for all those nights out complaining about how bright the Moon is.