Weekly Happenings: June 7, 2013
Tonight's forecast is calling for heavy rain, thunderstorms, and wind with gusts up to 24mph compliments of Tropical Storm Andrea. The super thin 1% crescent moon will set tonight at 7:23 bringing on the New Moon tomorrow. With post tropical storm conditions at the observatory tonight, it is safe to conclude that the observatory and telescopes will remain closed. Tonight's weather surely is a drag considering the lack of a bright moon to obscure our dark skies, but overall this Spring has offered us some great observation opportunities especially when compared to the past few years and just this week alone we had some really fantastic nights for observing.
Aside from all the crazy cool night sky events happening this year we also have much awesomeness happening during the daytime. Solar maximum is quickly approaching and the sun is freaking out with stunning solar activity as a result. With so many astonishing solar events taking place, Frosty Drew Observatory has appropriately added a new solar projection program. This program is an extension of our current public stargazing program on Friday nights and takes place at 6:00 p.m. continuing until sunset. The program will offer safe solar viewing for the general public. Using a Sunspotter, shielded telescopes, cameras, and modern technology we will project live views of the sun's photosphere showcasing visible sunspots and prominence (flares). Projected views will be displayed inside the Sky Theatre, Observatory, and outside around the grounds. This afternoon would have been our official start date of the program (had skies been clear) which will continue until mid-September. Be sure to stop in Friday evenings this summer for fantastic views of the Sun at Frosty Drew Observatory.
This week has been a real winner for those hunting the fabled Northern Lights. Earlier this week an interplanetary shock wave sparked fabulous Auroras as far south as Colorado for a couple nights. Then again last night, Earth passed through a region of the solar wind triggering a large geomagnetic storm producing Auroras as far south as Kansas! This weekend on Saturday up-to two CME's (Coronal Mass Ejections) are expected to impact Earth offering a high likelihood for fantastic Northern Lights. When making an attempt at viewing the Northern Lights there really aren't any tricks. Find a spot relatively free of light pollution with a wide open view of the sky when facing North. Take out a lawn chair and relax for a bit while gazing towards the north star after midnight. The Northern Lights will be visible as a red-purple-green glow or with visible streaks of colored light perpendicular to the horizon. Patience is key as well as reasonable expectations as Southern New England is surely not Aurora country. If anybody happens to snap a photo of the Northern Lights be sure to post it on our Facebook page and we will share it on our time-line. Happy hunting!