Summer Stargazing Nights

Summer Stargazing Nights

Frosty Drew Observatory
Friday August 24, 2018 at 6:00 p.m
$5 Suggested Donation per person 5 years and older

Tonight is Stargazing Night and forecasts look totally awesome! We can expect clear skies, cooler temps, and dry conditions all afternoon, evening, and overnight. Add in that atmospheric seeing conditions (the quality of the atmosphere as it applies to telescope viewing) are also forecast to be amazing, we have an fabulous night ahead of us! The only negative tonight will be the 99% waxing gibbous Moon, one day short of full, which will bring intense moonlight to our sky, blocking nearly all deep sky objects from view. Though planetary viewing will be absolutely stunning tonight!

We will open the Observatory and Sky Theatre at 6:00 p.m. this afternoon. In the Observatory courtyard, we will have our hydrogen alpha telescope setup on the Sun, offering fabulous views of the solar chromosphere, and the tiny sunspot group AR 2719. Once the Sun sets, we will direct our telescopes to the night sky with Jupiter up first, sporting three Galilean Moons and the Great Red Spot shortly after. Once twilight starts to wane, Saturn will rock our night, with fantastic views of the rings and up-to 5 moons visible. Mars will end the night in the big telescope, where we are seeing a significant clearing of dust in the Martian atmosphere, allowing for better viewing of martian surface features. Field telescopes setup in the Observatory courtyard, will also showcase the near full Moon, and a handful of binary stars shining through the moonlight. We will stay open until 11:30 p.m.

Overall, tonight’s weather is to die for! Clear skies all night with stable atmosphere will make for fabulous planetary viewing. If the Milky Way is your flame, then tonight is certainly not your night, as the bright Moon will dominate the sky. Though Lunar crazies are in for a stunning night with the Moon. It’s been a few weeks since we have had a beautiful night like this, and what better way to send off summer break than with a fabulous night out under the stars. So put the cosmos on your list of awesome, and set your inner astro-geek lose at Frosty Drew Observatory tonight!

Weekly Happenings
Scott MacNeill

On August 15, 2018, Venus waned into a crescent phase. Reaching Maximum Eastern Elongation on August 17, 2018, Venus is now moving towards inferior conjunction, when it passes in between Earth and the Sun. Maximum elongation happens when an inner planet (inferior planet) reaches the point in its orbit when the tangential angle, when viewed from Earth, forms a right angle with the Sun. Think of a triangle comprised of a straight line stating at Earth and ending at an inner planet, then another line from the inner planet to the Sun, and a third line extending from the Sun to Earth. When the line from Earth to the inner planet and the line from the inner planet to the Sun form a right angle (90°), you have maximum elongation of the inner planet. Consequently, when the line from Earth to an outer (superior) planet and the line from the Sun to Earth form a right angle, you have quadrature of the outer planet Eastern Elongation means that the inner planet is at maximum elongation while being placed on the eastern side of the of the Sun in Earth’s sky. All that aside, Venus will continue to wane into a super thin crescent over the next couple months. Though Venus phase is getting smaller, Venus will continue to brighten in our night sky over the month because it is orbiting closer to us with each passing day. Make a point to get out and see Venus’ fabulous crescent in a telescope over the next month. We will showcase Venus in our telescopes at Frosty Drew Observatory every Friday, right after sunset, until it orbits out of view.

As the fabulous weather continues into the weekend, you have another chance to get out and celebrate clearer skies and cooler temps. Tomorrow night, Saturday, August 25th, the RI Sidewalk Astronomers will be setup at two venues. Frosty Drew Observatory’s Scott MacNeill (@ScottieMacNeill) will be partnering with Brown University Physics at Waterfire in Providence, RI along River Walk in between College Street and Market Square starting at 6:00 p.m. and continuing until midnight. Lights in the Dark’s Jason Major (@JPMajor) will be on the bridge in Pawtuxet Village, RI from sunset until about 11:00 p.m. These are fantastic opportunities to catch spectacular views of the Full Green Corn Moon (Full Sturgeon Moon), Saturn, Mars, and more. So make it a perfect Saturday night and stop in at either Waterfire for a night of fire, smoke, food, and stars; or stop in for a less crowded walk with ice cream, coffee, and the Moon on the bridge in Pawtuxet Village.
Check out the Sidewalk Astronomers on Facebook
Pawtuxet Village Bridge

Hanging out in southern Rhode Island this coming Saturday night? Well stop in at the South Kingstown Land Trust Barn for an evening celebration of the Full Green Corn Moon. Frosty Drew Observatory’s Sarah LeClair will have a telescope setup, offering views of the Full Moon, Jupiter, Saturn, and Mars alongside food, beer, live music, and more. Support a local Rhode Island land preservation organization with a night of end-of-summer festivities. Note that tickets are required to attend and can be purchased on their website