STAR WATCH FOR SEPTEMBER through DECEMBER, 2014

Public Night Schedule, Fall 2014:  All events are on Saturdays.

DATE

Sunset  (Norwalk-Stamford)

Planetarium Show

Sky Observing        (if clear)

Objects

Sept. 6

7:16 p.m. EDT

7 - 8 p.m.

8 - 10 p.m.

Waxing gibbous Moon, summer Milky Way sky objects

Sept. 20

6:54 p.m.

7 - 8 p.m.

8 - 10 p.m.

Summer Milky Way sky objects

Oct. 4

6:29 p.m.

6:30 - 7:30 p.m.

7:30 - 9:30 p.m.

Waxing gibbous Moon, summer Milky Way sky objects

Oct. 18

6:07 p.m.

6 - 7 p.m.

7 - 9 p.m.

Summer Milky Way and early autumn sky objects

Nov. 1

5:47 p.m.

6 - 7 p.m.

7 - 9 p.m.

Moon just past First Quarter, autumn sky objects

Nov. 15

4:32 p.m. EST

4:30 - 5:30 p.m. EST

5:30 - 7:30 p.m. EST

Autumn and early winter Milky Way sky objects

Dec. 6

4:24 p.m.

4:30 - 5:30 p.m.

5:30 - 7:30 p.m.

Full Moon; autumn and early winter Milky Way sky objects

 

The facility is located atop the hill between the Westside Campus Center and the Pinney Hall dormitory. Limited parking is avail-able around the facility, with additional parking on University Boulevard.

Public Nights may be cancelled due to severe weather or hazardous road conditions. Call 837 – 8672 on the day of an event, for updates. Sky viewing cannot be held in cloudy or precipitating weather, but planetarium shows are usually held.

Planetarium shows are appropriate for adults and older children, but generally not for infants or toddlers.

NIGHTLY SKY CALENDAR

*or ! – interesting to very interesting celestial event
!! – 'must-see' event
E – calendar or geometry- related event (such as a solstice)

Day

Date

Remarks

Description

Sun

Aug. 31

*

Close conjunction of the waxing crescent Moon and Saturn; Mars nearby

Tue

Sept. 2

 

First Quarter Moon

Sat

6

*

Free PUBLIC NIGHT at the WCSU Planetarium and Observatory. Planetarium show from 7 to 8 p.m., followed by sky viewing with the 20-inch telescope, 8 to 10 p.m., if skies are clear.

Mon

8

*

Another "superMoon" occurs. At midnight on the 8th, the Moon reaches perigee at 358,389 km or 222,692 miles from Earth's center. The FULL Harvest MOON occurs on the 9th at 9:38 p.m. Expect large ocean tides on the 8th through the 10th.

Mon

15

 

Last Quarter Moon

Sat

20

 

 

*

The waning crescent Moon reaches apogee at 405,845 km or 252,180 miles from Earth's center.

Free PUBLIC NIGHT at the WCSU Planetarium and Observatory. Planetarium show from 7 to 8 p.m., followed by sky viewing with the 20-inch telescope, 8 to 10 p.m., if skies are clear.

Sun

21

 

Mercury reaches greatest eastern elongation 26 degrees east of the Sun, but this is an unfavorable elongation for Northern hemisphere observers, keeping the planet low in WSW evening twilight.

Mon

22

E

The autumnal equinox (Sun crossing the equator moving southward) occurs at 10:29 p.m. EDT.

Wed

24

 

New Moon

Sat

27

*

The waxing crescent Moon passes just north of Saturn (magnitude 0.6); look low in the WSW after sunset.

Wed

Oct. 1

 

First Quarter Moon

Sat

4

*

Free PUBLIC NIGHT at the WCSU Planetarium and Observatory. Planetarium show from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m., followed by sky viewing with the 20-inch telescope, 7:30 to 9:30 p.m., if skies are clear.

Mon

6

 

The nearly-full Moon reaches perigee at 362,476 km or 225,232 miles from Earth's center. The Moon is full two nights later, for the last "superMoon" of the year.

Wed

8

!

The FULL Hunter's MOON is totally eclipsed in the predawn hours, near moonset. Earth's dark umbral shadow begins to "bite" into the Full Moon around 5:15 a.m. Total eclipse begins at 6:25 a.m., with greatest eclipse at 6:55 a.m. Totality ends at 7:24 a.m., and the partial phase ends at 8:34 a.m. (Moonset is 6:58 a.m., sunrise is also 6:58 a.m. EDT for Norwalk-Stamford, so southern Connecticut observers will see very little of this eclipse: mostly the first partial “bite.”)

Wed

15

 

Last Quarter Moon

Sat

18

 

Free PUBLIC NIGHT at the WCSU Planetarium and Observatory. Planetarium show from 6 to 7 p.m., followed by sky viewing with the 20-inch telescope, 7 to 9 p.m., if skies are clear.

Tue,Wed

21,22

*

With the Moon in waning crescent phase, this is a good year to observe meteors from the Orionid shower without being bothered much by moonlight. The constellation Orion, from which the meteors appear to come, rises in the eastern sky around midnight and is visible from then until dawn (gradually shifting toward the south). From an otherwise dark location, an observer might expect to see a dozen fast meteors each hour, especially after midnight.

Thu

23

 

The New Moon will partially eclipse the Sun; the partial phase begins at 3:38 p.m. EDT and ends at 7:52 p.m. From western New England and New York, the maximum "bite" will occur just after sunset. From Danbury, the Sun’s altitude is only 1.5 degrees when the partial eclipse begins, so the eclipse is essentially not visible from here. The western and northern parts of the U.S. and Canada will see more of the eclipse.

Thu

30

 

First Quarter Moon

Sat

Nov. 1

*

Free PUBLIC NIGHT at the WCSU Planetarium and Observatory. Planetarium show from 6 to 7 p.m., followed by sky viewing with the 20-inch telescope, 7 to 9 p.m. if skies are clear.

 

2

E

At 2 a.m., Eastern Daylight Time ends and Eastern Standard Time (EST) resumes. Set clocks back by one hour.

 

2

 

The waxing gibbous Moon reaches perigee ay 367,878 km or 228,588 miles from Earth's center. As Full Moon this month is almost four days later, it will not appear as large as the "superMoons" of September and October.

Thu

 6

 

FULL Beaver MOON

Fri

14

 

Last Quarter Moon at 10:15 a.m. Eleven hours later, the Moon reaches apogee at 404,336 km or 251,242 miles from Earth's center.

Sat

15

*

Free PUBLIC NIGHT at the WCSU Planetarium and Observatory. Planetarium show from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m., followed by sky viewing with the 20-inch telescope, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., if skies are clear.

Mon,Tue

17,18

*

With the Moon in waning crescent phase, this is a good year to observe meteors from the Leonid shower. The constellation Leo, from which the meteors appear to come, rises in the eastern sky around midnight and gradually climbs higher and toward the southeast. The best time to view Leonids will be between midnight and around 3 a.m. From an otherwise dark location, an observer might expect to see a dozen fast meteors each hour.

Sat

22

 

New Moon

Thu

27

 

The waxing crescent Moon reaches perigee at 369,827 km or 229,799 miles from Earth's center.

Sat

29

 

First Quarter Moon

Tue

Dec. 2

*

The waxing gibbous Moon passes just above the greenish planet Uranus. The planet, at apparent magnitude +5.8, will be readily visible in binoculars.

Fri

5

*

The nearly-Full Moon passes near the Hyades star cluster and its brightest star, orange Aldebaran, for a nice binocular view.

Sat

6

 

*

FULL Cold MOON.

Free PUBLIC NIGHT at the WCSU Planetarium and Observatory. Planetarium show from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m., followed by sky viewing with the 20-inch telescope, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., if skies are clear.

Thu

11

*

The waning gibbous Moon passes near Jupiter.

Fri

12

 

The waning gibbous Moon reaches apogee, at 404,581 km or 251,394 miles from Earth's center.

Sat/Sun

13/14

*

This is a fair year to observe meteors from the Geminid shower. The constellation Gemini, from which the meteors appear to come, rises in the east-northeastern sky around mid-evening, so the best time to view Geminids will be between 8 and 11:30 p.m., before the last quarter Moon rises. From an otherwise dark location with the Moon not visible, an observer might expect to see three to four dozen slow meteors each hour.

Sun

14

 

Last Quarter Moon

Sun

21

E

The Sun reaches its farthest-south location in the sky (the summer solstice) at 6:03 p.m. EST.

Sun

21

 

New Moon

Wed

24

 

The waxing crescent Moon reaches perigee at 364,797 km or 226,674 miles from Earth's center.

Sun

28

 

First Quarter Moon

Mon

29

*

(See the entry for Dec. 2.) The waxing gibbous Moon again passes just above the greenish planet Uranus. The planet, at apparent magnitude +5.8, will be readily visible in binoculars.

 

PLANET INFORMATION

MERCURY is at greatest eastern elongation (visible after sunset) on Sept. 21, but it is only visible low in the WSW evening twilight. It vanishes into the Sun's glare during early October but reappears in the eastern predawn sky later in the month. Mercury reaches greatest western elongation 19 degrees from the Sun on November 1, and this is a favorable elongation for Northern hemisphere observers. After mid-November and for most of December, the planet is again lost in the Sun's glare. Mercury reappears after sunset, below Venus in the SW evening twilight, during the last week of the year.

VENUS is in the ENE predawn sky during September, gradually closing with the Sun. It is lost in the Sun's glare until early December, when it reappears in the SW evening twilight sky.

MARS, between September and December, moves through Libra into Scorpius, Ophiuchus, Sagittarius and Capricorn; this rapid eastward motion keeps it visible low in the SW evening sky during those months. The Red Planet fades in brightness from apparent magnitude + 0.6 at the start of September to magnitude + 1.1 at the end of the year. Mars passes near the bright star Antares ("Mars's rival") in Scorpius between Sept. 26 and 30; this is a good time to compare their brightness and color.

JUPITER rises well after midnight during September and October, gradually becoming visible in late evening during December. It moves from Cancer into Leo during this time and brightens from magnitude -1.8 (start of September) to - 2.4 (end of the year).

SATURN, in Libra, is low in the WSW evening twilight sky during September but is lost in the Sun's glare thereafter until early December, when it reappears in the SE morning twilight sky. Saturn's rings end the year with a tilt of 24.5 degrees, their most wide open of the year.


Thanks for connecting! Star Watch is sponsored by the Earth and Planetary Sciences program at WCSU.


GENERAL INFORMATION about the planetarium and observatory:

  • Public Nights are free, but we do accept donations in the planetarium and in the hyperbolic funnel ("black hole") in the lobby.
  • Planetarium shows will be held as scheduled, rain or shine, unless severe storms or hazardous driving conditions are predicted. The telescope cannot be used if skies are cloudy or precipitating. (Use the National Weather Service link, above, to see the forecast for any scheduled Public Night date.)
  • Parking is very limited (4 to 6 vehicles) atop the hill where the facility stands, but more is available on University Boulevard (the main Westside Campus road).
  • The planetarium has a seating capacity of 40. The telescope chamber can accommodate 6 to 8 at one time, with additional standing space on the stairs.
  • Planetarium shows usually last about one hour and are geared to adults and families with preadolescent and older children; i.e., older than baby or toddler. Younger children may be disturbed by the dimming of lights in the planetarium and other special effects.
  • It is requested that people attending planetarium shows turn off mobile phones, digital cameras and other electronic devices, as their use during the show is disturbing to others. The same request holds for flashlights, lighted sport shoes and other sources of illumination.
  • The observatory houses a 20-inch f/8.1 Ritchey-Chretien reflecting telescope that is used for public observing and astronomy research by WCSU students and faculty. It has a German-type equatorial mounting (the telescope has counterweights) and a computer controlled pointing and tracking system.


DRIVING DIRECTIONS to the WCSU Observatory and Planetarium: 

        The facility is located on the WCSU Westside Campus, which is off Exit 4 (Lake Avenue) of Interstate 84. After exiting the Interstate, travel about 0.7 mile west on Route 6 to the main campus entrance, then another 0.7 mile up the main campus road, University Boulevard. You will pass Centennial Hall (new dormitory) on your left; continue straight. At the new Campus Center, turn left and proceed a short distance to the observatory road, which will be on your left and facing the Pinney Hall dormitory. SLOWLY turn onto the road--preferably coming in from an angle--as the entrance apron is steep; we don't want you to bottom out!

        Parking is very limited (4 to 6 vehicles) atop the hill where the facility stands, but more is available on University Boulevard (the main Westside Campus road).


      

WCSU Logo