Partial Solar Eclipse On October 23rd – Attendance And Location Update

Greetings fellow astrophiles,

The forecast for Thursday (Oct. 23rd) presently isn’t all that pleasant for observing the upcoming partial solar eclipse, but 3 days is a long time for CNY forecasting. We will keep track of the weather over the next few days and will announce on this site and our Facebook Page accordingly.

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The views of the partial solar eclipse from Starry Night Pro’s predictions.

The current location for the session will be the very southern end of the Onondaga Lake Parkway, just below the baseball diamond shown in the google map below.

For those willing to brave that left-hand turn at the main entrance, you need only loop left on the Parkway to get to the large parking lot at the southern end. For those NOT interested in fighting any rush hour traffic, we advise making a driving map that has you going past Heid’s, turning left onto 1st Street, making the left onto Lake Drive, then meander your way along to Onondaga Lake Parkway to get to the south end.

All of the data I’ve found so far for New York indicates the eclipse will start at 5:43 p.m. And go well past sunset (at which point it does’t matter to us anyway). The CNYO board will have several solar scopes and solar glasses there, so all you need do is show up! If you’ve solar equipment you want to bring, by all means do so.

Attendees may even be in for a special treat, as there’s currently a MASSIVE sunspot gracing the Sun’s surface. Seriously, look at the size of that thing in the image from NASA SOHO below:

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As always, keep track of this website for weather updates, with the final call being made on Thursday afternoon. We hope you can join us!

NASA News Digest: Space Science For 12 October – 16 October 2014

Greetings fellow astrophiles,

The NASA News service provides up-to-date announcements of NASA policy, news events, and space science. A recent selection of space science articles are provided below, including direct links to the full announcements. Those interested in receiving these news announcements directly from NASA can subscribe to their service by sending an email to:

hqnews-request@newsletters.nasa.gov?subject=subscribe

NASA Mission Finds Widespread Evidence of Young Lunar Volcanism

RELEASE 14-284 (Click here for the full article) – 12 October 2014

2014oct20_14_284NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) has provided researchers strong evidence the moon’s volcanic activity slowed gradually instead of stopping abruptly a billion years ago.

Scores of distinctive rock deposits observed by LRO are estimated to be less than 100 million years old. This time period corresponds to Earth’s Cretaceous period, the heyday of dinosaurs. Some areas may be less than 50 million years old. Details of the study are published online in Sunday’s edition of Nature Geoscience.

“This finding is the kind of science that is literally going to make geologists rewrite the textbooks about the moon,” said John Keller, LRO project scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

To access the complete collection of LROC images, visit: lroc.sese.asu.edu/

For more information about LRO, visit: www.nasa.gov/lro

NASA Mission Provides Its First Look at Martian Upper Atmosphere

RELEASE 14-285 (Click here for the full article) – 14 October 2014

2014oct20_14_285NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) spacecraft has provided scientists their first look at a storm of energetic solar particles at Mars, produced unprecedented ultraviolet images of the tenuous oxygen, hydrogen, and carbon coronas surrounding the Red Planet, and yielded a comprehensive map of highly-variable ozone in the atmosphere underlying the coronas.

The spacecraft, which entered Mars’ orbit Sept. 21, now is lowering its orbit and testing its instruments. MAVEN was launched to Mars in November 2013, to help solve the mystery of how the Red Planet lost most of its atmosphere.

“All the instruments are showing data quality that is better than anticipated at this early stage of the mission,” said Bruce Jakosky, MAVEN Principal Investigator at the University of Colorado, Boulder. “All instruments have now been turned on — although not yet fully checked out — and are functioning nominally. It’s turning out to be an easy and straightforward spacecraft to fly, at least so far. It really looks as if we’re headed for an exciting science mission.”

For more about MAVEN, visit: www.nasa.gov/maven

NASA’s Hubble Telescope Finds Potential Kuiper Belt Targets for New Horizons Pluto Mission

RELEASE 14-281 (Click here for the full article) – 15 October 2014

2014oct20_14_281Peering out to the dim, outer reaches of our solar system, NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has uncovered three Kuiper Belt objects (KBOs) the agency’s New Horizons spacecraft could potentially visit after it flies by Pluto in July 2015.

The KBOs were detected through a dedicated Hubble observing program by a New Horizons search team that was awarded telescope time for this purpose.

“This has been a very challenging search and it’s great that in the end Hubble could accomplish a detection – one NASA mission helping another,” said Alan Stern of the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) in Boulder, Colorado, principal investigator of the New Horizons mission.

The Kuiper Belt is a vast rim of primordial debris encircling our solar system. KBOs belong to a unique class of solar system objects that has never been visited by spacecraft and which contain clues to the origin of our solar system.

For images of the KBOs and more information about Hubble, visit: www.nasa.gov/hubble

For information about the New Horizons mission, visit: www.nasa.gov/newhorizons

NASA’s Hubble Finds Extremely Distant Galaxy through Cosmic Magnifying Glass

RELEASE 14-283 (Click here for the full article) – 16 October 2014

2014oct20_14_283Peering through a giant cosmic magnifying glass, NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has spotted a tiny, faint galaxy — one of the farthest galaxies ever seen. The diminutive object is estimated to be more than 13 billion light-years away.

This galaxy offers a peek back to the very early formative years of the universe and may just be the tip of the iceberg.

“This galaxy is an example of what is suspected to be an abundant, underlying population of extremely small, faint objects that existed about 500 million years after the big bang, the beginning of the universe,” explained study leader Adi Zitrin of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, California. “The discovery is telling us galaxies as faint as this one exist, and we should continue looking for them and even fainter objects, so that we can understand how galaxies and the universe have evolved over time.”

For images and more information about Hubble, visit: www.nasa.gov/hubble

NASA Spacecraft Provides New Information About Sun’s Atmosphere

RELEASE 14-288 (Click here for the full article) – 16 Ocrober 2014

2014oct20_14_288NASA’s Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph (IRIS) has provided scientists with five new findings into how the sun’s atmosphere, or corona, is heated far hotter than its surface, what causes the sun’s constant outflow of particles called the solar wind, and what mechanisms accelerate particles that power solar flares.

The new information will help researchers better understand how our nearest star transfers energy through its atmosphere and track the dynamic solar activity that can impact technological infrastructure in space and on Earth. Details of the findings appear in the current edition of Science.

“These findings reveal a region of the sun more complicated than previously thought,” said Jeff Newmark, interim director for the Heliophysics Division at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “Combining IRIS data with observations from other Heliophysics missions is enabling breakthroughs in our understanding of the sun and its interactions with the solar system.”

For more information about IRIS, visit: www.nasa.gov/iris

A Busy Week – Comet Siding Spring On The 19th, Orionids On The 21st, Partial Solar Eclipse On The 23rd, Kopernik AstroFest On The 24th & 25th

Greetings Fellow astrophiles!

Several upcoming events of note – three of which depend on the weather, one of which is a go either way.

1. October 19th – CNYO @ Happy Valley For Comet Siding Spring

NOTE: Please contact us at info@cnyo.org, on our Contact Page, or on the Facebook Page about the event. This is event is weather-permitting and is a one-time event (no rescheduling)! Keep track of this website for updates on the 19th.

2014oct16_marscometComet C/2013 A1 Siding Spring is going to side-swipe Mars at 2:27 p.m. Eastern time at a distance 1/3 that of the Earth-Moon distance. That’s an astronomical close-call by all metrics! That’s close enough that NASA has reportedly taken steps to protect its robot fleet in Mars’ orbit.

Now, this is a rare and special event, but we’re going to miss the closest-approach by several hours (waiting for sunset at 6:15 p.m., that is, then the additional wait for the sky to get darker). The view of Mars and Siding Spring through a single eyepiece should be great, but it’s going to require a dark, dark location to see them both well. To accommodate this, Ryan Goodson will be leading a session at Happy Valley outside of Parish, NY.

Yes, THAT Happy Valley.

Odd history aside, this is a dark sky location if ever there was one in CNY. If you’ve interest in attending, we ask that you contact us via the methods listed above for directions and so we can get a head count. Mars will set around 9:00 p.m., so this session with the drive North should still get you home by 10 p.m. (Unless you decide to stick around for some additional observing).

2. Orionid Meteor Shower, Peaking The Morning Of October 21st

2014oct16_orionid_radiantThe constellation Orion is appearing earlier every evening, marking the beginning of the winter observing session (and return of some of the best objects the Night Sky has to offer the well-insulated amateur astronomer). Those staying up late (or waking up extra-early) will be treated to the first spectacle Orion has to offer in the form of the Orionids, which peak early Tuesday morning. This shower isn’t known for quantity (10 to 25/hour) but has been known for some particularly brilliant shooters. This is also a chance for those who’ve never seen Halley’s Comet to say they’ve at least seen a teeny, tiny piece of it, as this comet’s debris field is the feeder for this late-fall shower.

As with all meteor showers, dark skies = better skies. As for observing the shower itself, your best bet is to lie down with your feet pointed at Orion, then wait (patiently) as the shooters shoot over your feet and towards your head.

3. Partial Solar Eclipse, At Sunset On October 23rd

NOTE: This event is weather-permitting and can’t be rescheduled! Keep track of this website for updates on the 23rd.

We had a limited glimpse of the recent total lunar eclipse just a few weeks ago, now have a chance to see the tables turned in the form of a partial solar eclipse. This will be a small clipping of the Sun by the New Moon and will happen VERY close to sunset – close enough that we’ll miss most of the eclipse when the Sun sets below the Western horizon. Because of that, we’re still looking for an observing location that’s up high and with a low horizon. Our plan right now is to meet at the parking lot next to the Onondaga Lake Inner Harbor Amphitheater (where we ran our first-ever CNYO session) but we’re also considering the southern end of the Onondaga Lake Parkway. We will make final decision in the next few days.

2014oct16_patia_solar_eclipse

We’ll have about 25 minutes (5:44 to 6:09) of partial solar eclipse if the skies hold and the horizon’s low. More details (like location) to follow as we finalize event details.

4. Kopernik AstroFest 2014, October 24th & 25th

Our friends (and, for some of us, fellow members) of the Kopernik Astronomical Society are getting ready to host their annual AstroFest, always one of the very best events of its kind in New York. Having already posted the official announcement on cnyo.org, I’ll leave you to the Kopernik AstroFest website to learn more about the Friday/Saturday festivities. Several of us are still planning on attending both days of the event and are willing to carpool down. Please drop a line to info@cnyo.org or our Facebook Page for arrangements.