Tag Archives: Baltimore Woods

Transit Of Mercury Session @ Baltimore Woods – Monday, May 9th, 8 a.m. To 10 a.m.

Greetings, fellow astrophiles –

There will be no next-day reschedule of this event! Our hemisphere is being treated to the third Transit of Mercury this century, and Bob Piekiel is hosting an official observing session at Baltimore Woods to mark the event and to give keen viewers a sight of our (now) smallest planet.

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This NASA graphic depicts the time and location of Mercury as it crosses the face of the sun during the May 9, 2016 Transit of Mercury event. – From NASA

For those new to the phenomenon, a transit occurs when one small body passed in front of another larger body relative to the observer’s position. If you’ve ever been in the left lane of a three-lane highway, had a big truck in the right lane, and had a motorcycle pass in the middle lane at some blistering speed, you’ve witnessed a (kind of) transit. From our Earth-centric perspective (and sticking to one definition of a transit), transits occur when the inferior planets (which just means their between us and the Sun) Mercury or Venus pass between us and the Sun. Once we’re living on Mars, transits will occur when the inferior planets Mercury, Venus, or Earth pass between us (there) and the Sun. And you get the idea.

2016may5_orbital_angles_q4O5UNow a little math – Mercury revolves around the Sun once every 87.9 days – what we call its sidereal period. Because the Earth revolves as well, the time it takes for Mercury to hit the same basic spot between us and the Sun is 115.9 days (its synodic period). If all of the planets of the Solar System were in a perfect flat plane, that would mean we’d get a Mercury Transit every 116-ish days and the phenomenon would be a little less impressive. Because all of the planets are at slight tilts with respect to Earth’s orbit, we don’t always get clean passes – the Sun is huge overall, but still a small target at an Astronomical Unit, so the slight angles of Mercury and Venus matter when it comes to the proper lining-up needed for transits to occur.

Click the map to make directions to Baltimore Woods.

The next Mercury Transit (from an Earth viewing location, that is) won’t occur until 11 Nov 2019, then there’s a loooong wait until 13 Nov 2032. If you can get a free block in the morning, I highly encourage you to make the trip out to Baltimore Woods. The two Venus Transits I witnessed definitely “clicked” something in me about how the Solar System works (and the size of Venus against the Sun was a very impressive sight!).

The text from Bob’s official announcement is below:

Rare Transit of Mercury Across the Sun. The planet Mercury will move directly between the Earth and the Sun. Viewers with telescopes and approved solar filters will be able to observe the dark disk of the planet Mercury moving across the face of the Sun. This is an extremely rare event that occurs only once every few years. There will be one other transit of Mercury in 2019 and then the next one will not take place until 2039. (Venus will also be visible right near the sun as well).

If you can’t make it out but still want to see it, the good news is that your tax dollars are being put to good use – NASA will be live streaming the transit. For details, see www.nasa.gov/press-release/nasa-to-provide-coverage-of-may-9-mercury-transit-of-the-sun

Bob Piekiel Hosts A Mercury/Jupiter-Centric Observing Session At Baltimore Woods, Friday – 15 April 2015

UPDATE: FRIDAY, APRIL 15 – The Baltimore Woods observing session is A GO for tonight! Dress accordingly and come enjoy some excellent views of Mercury, Jupiter, and the Moon!

Greetings fellow astrophiles!

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The view at 8:00 p.m., Friday, April 15th. Click for a larger view.

The temperature’s spiked up just in time for Bob Piekiel’s monthly observing session at Baltimore Woods.

A quick note from Bob about the session:

My program highlight is Mercury, which is at greatest elongation. I’m actually listing the program with a 6pm start time (the Sun will still be up!) because we will also have the Moon and Jupiter as easy targets, and with my NexStar GPS I can lock on them and find Mercury very early. I don’t think it’s necessary to get there much before 6:30, but Mercury does drop below the tree line during twilight.

A Note About Baltimore Woods

Part of Baltimore Woods’ support for their facility and programs comes from event fees – take in some keen sights and keep the place going at the same time!

* Registration for these events are required. Low registration may cause programs to be canceled.
* $5 for members, $15/family; $8 for nonmembers, $25/family.
* To Register By Email: info@baltimorewoods.org
* To Register By Phone: (315) 673-1350

Bob Piekiel Hosts Observing Sessions At Baltimore Woods (And More!) – 2016 Observing Schedule

This event list will be added to as the year progresses. Check back often!

I’m pleased to have obtained the official schedule for Bob Piekiel’s growing observing and lecture programs for the 2016 season and have added them to the CNYO Calendar. For those who have not had the pleasure of hearing one of his lectures, attending one of his observing sessions, or reading one of his many books on scope optics (or loading the CD containing the massive Celestron: The Early Years), Bob Piekiel is not only an excellent guide but likely the most knowledgeable equipment and operation guru in Central New York.

Notes On Baltimore Woods Sessions:

The Baltimore Woods events calendar is updated monthly. As such, I’ve no direct links to the sessions below. Therefore, as the event date nears, see the official Calendar Page for more information and any updates on the event.

Also…

* Registration for these events are required. Low registration may cause programs to be canceled.
* $5 for members, $15/family; $8 for nonmembers, $25/family.
* To Register By Email: info@baltimorewoods.org
* To Register By Phone: (315) 673-1350

Baltimore Woods:

* January 8 (Fri.)/9 (Sat. weather alternate), 7-9 p.m. (meetup.com)

Winter skies at their finest, with the many bright clusters and nebulae surrounding the constellation of Orion. The planet Uranus will be visible as well, and maybe a few leftover Quadrantid meteors.

* February 5 (Fri.)/6 (Sat. weather alternate), 7-9 p.m.

Winter skies again, with the many beautiful sights surrounding the constellation Orion. Another good look at the planet Uranus, and we may get our first peek at Jupiter as it rises in the east.

* February 27 (Sat.)/28 (Sun. weather alternate), 1-3 p.m.

Solar program in the parking lot.

* March 4 (Fri.)/5 (Sat. weather alternate), 7:30-9:30 p.m.

Jupiter will be about as close to earth as it gets, so it will be bigger and brighter than any other time in the upcoming year. Come see the king of the planets, plus a final look at the bright winter skies.

* April 15 (Fri.)/16 (Sat. weather alternate), 6-9 p.m. (Notice the early start time!)

This will be our best chance to see the planet Mercury, as it will be as high in the western sky after sunset as it ever gets. Jupiter will be visible, plus a bright moon. While the moon will blot out faint objects, this will be a great night to view the planets!

* Monday, May 9, 8-10 a.m.

Rare Transit of Mercury Across the Sun. The planet Mercury will move directly between the Earth and the Sun. Viewers with telescopes and approved solar filters will be able to observe the dark disk of the planet Mercury moving across the face of the Sun. This is an extremely rare event that occurs only once every few years. There will be one other transit of Mercury in 2019 and then the next one will not take place until 2039. (Venus will also be visible right near the sun as well).

* June 10 (Fri.)/11 (Sat. weather alternate), 9:00-11:00 p.m.

The start of Summer skies, with the planet Jupiter in good view, and Mars about as close to earth as it will get for the year.

* July 22 (Fri.)/23 (Sat. weather alternate), 9:00-11:00 p.m.

Summer skies at their finest, with the many rich star clusters and nebulae visible in the direction of the heart of our Milky Way galaxy. Venus, Jupiter, Saturn and Mars will be visible.

* August 12 (Fri.)/13 (Sat. weather alternate), 8:30-11:00 p.m.

The annual persied meteor shower, one of the year’s finest. Bring a blanket or lawn chair to recline on while not looking through a telescope. Great views of the summer Milky way, with the planets Mars Jupiter, Venus and Saturn visible.

* August 27 (Sat.)/28 (Sun. weather alternate), 1:00-3:00 p.m.

SOLAR VIEWING PROGRAM. Using special telescopes, come and see solar flares, prominences, sunspots, and magnetic storms on our nearest star, the sun!

* September 9 (Fri.)/10 (Sat. weather alternate), 8:00-10:00 p.m.

Say goodbye to summer skies, and view the softer constellations of Autumn. Neptune will be visible, as well maybe our last look at Saturn before it sets. Venus is getting bigger and brighter. We will also get a good look at the first-quarter moon, displaying a wealth of craters and mountain ranges.

* October 21 (Fri.)/22 (Sat. weather alternate), 8:00-10:00 p.m.

The Orionid meteor shower peaks at this time, plus Venus, Uranus and Neptune are in great viewing positions. The fall skies, with their many bright galaxies, will be visible through telescopes. Bring a lawn chair to lie back and watch for meteors.

* November 4 (Fri.)/5 (Sat. weather alternate), 7:00-9:30 p.m.

This is the night of the Taurid meteor shower. Venus, Uranus and Neptune will be visible, as well as the start of the winter skies, with their bright nebulae and star clusters. Bring a lawn chair to lie back and watch for meteors.

*December 13 (Tue.)/14 (Wed. weather alternate), 7:00-10:00 p.m.

This is the night of the Geminid meteor shower, the year’s finest. Even though the moon will be nearly full, many Geminids are so bright they can still be seen. Bring a lawn chair to lie back and watch for meteors, and enjoy telescope views of some of the brightest winter star clusters and nebulae. Depending on the tree line, we MIGHT get a quick peek at Mercury just as it gets dark. Uranus and Neptune will be visible all evening. Venus will be a bold crescent just before dark.

Green Lakes:

* January 9 (Sat.)/10 (Sun. weather alternate), 1-3 p.m. (meetup.com)

Come view our nearest star, the sun, close up in special telescopes that give interesting views of solar flares, eruptions, and sunspots. At the parking lot behind the main office building.

* February 26 (Fri.)/27 (Sat. weather alternate), 7:30-9:30 p.m.

Come see the winter skies at their finest! The area around the constellation of Orion has more bright stars, nebulae, and clusters than any other part of the sky, plus, the planet Jupiter will be in good view as well. At the parking lot behind the main office.

* July 29 (Fri.)/30 (Sat. weather alternate), 8:00-10:30 p.m.

The summer skies are at their finest, when we can look directly into the center of the Milky Way galaxy, and see it’s many rich star clusters and nebulae. The Delta Aquarids meteor shower peaks that night, and Venus, Jupiter, Saturn and Mars will be visible. We might even get a peek at Mercury.

* August 26 (Fri.)/27 (Sat. weather alternate), 7:30-9:30 p.m.

Summer skies again, Plus a stunning conjunction of Jupiter and Venus in the west on those nights, and Mars and Saturn also.

Clark Reservation:

* July 8 (Fri.)/9 (Sat. weather alternate), 8:00-10:30 p.m.

Planets, stars, and a crescent moon! The summer skies are at their finest, when we can look directly into the center of the Milky Way galaxy, and see it’s many rich star clusters and nebulae. Venus, Jupiter, Saturn and Mars will be visible. We might even get a peek at Mercury.

* August 13 (Sat.)/14 (Sun. weather alternate), 1:00-3:00 p.m.

Solar program! Using special telescopes, come and see solar flares, prominences, sunspots, and magnetic storms on our nearest star, the Sun!

CNYO Observing Log: A Summary Of The Last Few Months Of 2015 In Rapid Succession

Greetings fellow astrophiles!

In the interest of full documentation of the year’s events (but because we’re running short on time), a brief post summarizing all of the unsummarized Observing Logs for the past few months (we’re done with observing for 2015 unless something really interesting happens tomorrow night!). Despite mostly unfavorable conditions, we did manage to get a few decent sessions in.

Mid-to-Late 2015 Library Lectures

1. Hazard Branch Library, Syracuse – 20 June 2015

In advance of International SUN-Day on June 21st, CNYO hosted a combined solar astronomy lecture and nearly clouded-out observing session. Provided the sky is clear (which was mostly NOT the case for the 2015 SUN-Day festivities), we’ll be running a session for International SUN-Day 2016 somewhere around town.

2. Seymour Library, Auburn – 6 October 2015

A “general introduction to astronomy” lecture was the staff request for this session, including a bit about getting around the CNY Nighttime Sky (courtesy of CNYO’s handy-dandy brochures) and a little sneak-in of the New Horizons (Pluto!) and Dawn (@ Ceres!) missions. For the record, one of the aesthetically pleasing libraries in CNY.

3. Liverpool Public Library, Liverpool – 23 November 2015

2015december30_lpl

After a rescheduling of the October 22rd lecture due to pending social obligations, CNYO returned for our twice-yearly (or more) LPL lecture, featuring a more complete session about Ceres and Pluto and all that it means to be dwarf planets in our always-interesting Solar System.

4. CNY Tech User Group @ LPL, Liverpool – 7 December 2015

CNYPCUG (but by “PC,” they mean “Tech”), which meets monthly at LPL, saw the announcement for the November 23rd session and asked for a tech-centric lecture of their own. Mixing up some of the recent dwarf planet discussion with the flurry of missions already active (with an extra emphasis on Hubble imagery), this session ran over 90 minutes and had lots of good discussions to boot.

Late 2015 Observing Sessions

2015 wasn’t a truly bad year for observing, but trying to get clear skies, little-to-no Moon, and short-notice organizing all together for some of our hoped impromptu sessions just didn’t work out too well. The four official sessions on the books are listed below.

1. Total Lunar Eclipse @ Baltimore Woods – 27 September 2015

This, THIS session was a treat. Driving out to Baltimore Woods around 8:00 p.m., the sky was completely overcast with only a few patches of anything clear-like in the distance. Within 5 minutes of BW, however, the sky just opened right up, with some of the last cloud cover making for some excellent final views of the obscured Moon before the whole sky went clear. Over 50 people were at the session, which culminated in a beautiful full lunar eclipse.

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The best part of the whole session – and the one I made mention of for people to take a second look – was just how bright the restive the sky becomes when the Moon is dimmed so significantly. One could have had a full New Moon observing session, complete with galactic views and all the subtle highlights one could wish for, all while having this dark orange/red Moon *right there* in the sky. Bob Piekiel was kind enough to make a montage of the event, which I include above (click for a larger view).

2. North Sportsman’s Club, West Monroe – 10 October 2015

This session was mostly organized on our Facebook Group and even received a small but active (8) attendance (including a guest appearance by New Moon Telescope’s own Ryan Goodson) despite a clerical error in the organization itself not allowing us to make it through the gate (so, not wanting to waste a clear sky, we unloaded and observed from the long NSC driveway – the field being too far away to want to risk carrying scopes around).

3. Joint Nottingham/Corcoran Observing Session @ Corcoran High School – 6 December 2015

2015december30_corcoran

A shining example of Murphy’s Law of Astronomy – “If you schedule it, it will be cloudy. If you cancel, it will be clear.” The session was scheduled for December 4th, with the 5th and 6th as alternates. The 4th was a wash, and the 5th looked to be – until we cancelled the session, after which those who still attended reported having an hour of clear skies for observing. We set the 6th as a make-or-break session – which mostly broke. Despite a busy 70 minutes with 18 attendees, we were only able to catch a poor view of the Andromeda Galaxy and a moderately washed-out view of the Pleiades. The discussion more than made up for the weather, however, and we plan to return again to try our luck near the heavily lit Corcoran High School football field (sadly, Nottingham High School does not fare much better).

4. Geminid Meteor Shower @ Baltimore Woods – 13/14 December 2015

As far as reported observing, this session went solely to Bob Piekiel at his special session at Baltimore Woods. With a one hour clearing on the evening of the 13th, Bob and his two attendees managed six bright meteors and a number of deep sky objects before packing it up. The 14th, sadly, was not an option for observing due to increased cloud cover, meaning CNY, yet again, largely missed out on one of the great meteor showers.

The 2016 calendar is getting populated and plans are in the works for more sessions. Stay tuned and Happy New Year!

2015 Geminid Meteor Shower Sessions At Baltimore Woods – Event And Weather Updates

UPDATE: Sunday, December 13th, 6:00 p.m.

We’re going to try for Monday night (Dec. 14th) instead given the poor conditions over Marcellus and the hope that patchy forecasts tomorrow will mean holes enough to see meteors. Check back around 5:00 p.m. Monday evening for a final announcement.

Greetings fellow astrophiles,

As of 9:00 a.m. Sunday, the weather is only looking slightly promising for Bob Piekiel’s scheduled session at Baltimore Woods, and for the observing of any Geminids from CNY in general. According to the current Clear Sky Clock

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… there may be a slight amount of clearing this evening. While the CSC looks a little better for some of tomorrow night, the other forecasts you might see online differ as to if and how much rain to expect.

We’ll make a final post here and on our Facebook Group page around 5:00 p.m. In the meantime, if you’re in a location with a large clear patch over the next few days, this handy-dandy sky chart from Sky & Telescope gives you all the important information. If you can find Orion’s Belt, you’re well on your way to orienting yourself for the Geminids.

Map of the Geminids from Sky & Telescope. Click for a larger view.

For all sorts of useful info on Meteor Showers in general, have a look at our CNYO Brochure:

A Guide To Meteor Showers