- Frosty Drew Observatory
- Friday December 29, 2017 at 6:00 p.m
- $1 Suggested Donation per Person
Tonight is Stargazing Night at Frosty Drew Observatory and weather looks great for viewing. We can expect mostly clear skies with frigid temps. We have the 83% waxing gibbous Moon with us for the night offering up fabulous views of the Kepler Crater, Sinus Iridum, and more. Winds will be minor, though enough to bring wind chills into the single digits, which will make the need for adequate winter attire a requirement (read about how we dress on the coldest nights). Regardless, clear skies on a Friday night is something to celebrate, and we are ready to go.
The Observatory and Sky Theatre will open at 6:00 p.m. In the Observatory, telescopes will start off with the gibbous Moon followed by views of Albireo, Uranus, the Orion Nebula, and more. The Sky Theatre will feature breaks from the cold of winter with a showcase of celestial objects photographed at Frosty Drew Observatory. We will stay open until 11:30 p.m.
Overall, tonight’s sky conditions are looking pretty good. The Moon will be bright, so no dark sky freak-outs, and temps will be impactful – bringing a festive winter punch. Though views will certainly be had and what better way to send off the year than a winter’s night under the stars. So bundle up, grab some friends, and catch fabulous views of the Moon’s Mare Imbrium, Albireo’s fabulous colors, and the vastness of the Orion Nebula at Frosty Drew tonight.
Tomorrow night, Saturday, December 30th, the last of a series of lunar conjunctions in 2017 of Aldebaran (brightest star in Taurus) will happen locally, starting at 6:29 p.m. EST. Occultations occur when the Moon, which orbits the Earth inclined 5° to the ecliptic (path the Sun takes across the sky and the plane of the Solar System), passes in between our view of a star or Solar System object. Being that the Moon orbits the Earth once every 27.3 days, its position in the sky changes about 15° in a 24 hour period moving from west to east across the sky. This subtle movement becomes visible during occultations. Step outside tomorrow night about 5 minutes before the occultation starts and catch Aldebaran to the bottom left of the Moon. Watch over the next few minutes as it vanishes from your sight, behind the Moon. Step out again around 7:15 p.m. EST and catch Aldebaran re-appear on the right side of the Moon. These times are applicable to Rhode Island / Eastern Massachusetts. For times applicable to your location, check out the time table on this page. The occultation will be naked eye visible, though binoculars or a small telescope will rock your view.
What are your plans to bid 2017 a fond farewell? If you’re finding yourself with an open slot at the beginning of your night, we have a perfect solution. Starting at 4:30 p.m. on December 31, 2017 the Town of Charlestown, RI will host the annual New Year’s Eve bonfire in Ninigret Park (home to Frosty Drew Observatory). The bonfire will go until 7:00 p.m., after which Frosty Drew Observatory will open for 2 hours (7-9 p.m.) with views of the Moon, Albireo, Uranus, and more. So put the cosmos on your list of fabulous New Year’s celebrations and cast hope for a great year ahead with a little geek.
Have a safe and happy New Year from all of the astro-geeks at Frost Drew Observatory!