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 firstname.lastname@example.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.
Comet 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
The 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.
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 email@example.com or our Facebook Page for arrangements.