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Star Watch

Star Watch for March through May, 2020

The scheduled planetarium shows and telescope viewing are cancelled at this time. For more information, call (203) 837-8672.

 

The WCSU Planetarium and Observatory facility is will hold its first Public Night of the 2020 spring season on Sat., March 14. See the schedule below.

A second, earlier planetarium show has been added to this semester’s schedule to accommodate individuals and families who might not be able to come out later in the evening.

The planetarium has a maximum seating of 40 people; it is first come, first served. There will be no entry to the planetarium once the show has started. Planetarium shows are appropriate for adults and older children, but generally not for infants or toddlers.

The Observatory and Planetarium facility lies atop the hill between the Westside Campus Center and the Pinney Hall dormitory; the entrance road faces the front of Pinney Hall. The road’s entrance apron is steep; come into it from an angle to avoid bottoming out. Very limited parking is available around the facility; more may be found on University Boulevard.

Public Nights may be cancelled due to severe storm watches or warnings. For updates, check the NOAA weather web site (www.weather.gov) on the day of an event. An update may also be issued on the observatory number, (203) 837-8672 . Sky viewing cannot be held during cloudy or precipitating weather, but a planetarium show may still be held as long as conditions are not severe.

SPRING, 2020 PUBLIC NIGHT SCHEDULE

Date of Public Night

Planetarium Shows (EDT)

 Observing (if clear: EDT)

Objects That May Be Observed
    Sat., Mar. 14

4 – 5 p.m.

7 – 8 p.m.

8 – 10 p.m.

Venus, Orion Nebula, Sirius, late winter sky

    Sat., Mar. 28

  4 – 5 p.m.

7 – 8 p.m.

8 – 10 p.m.

Crescent Moon, Venus, Orion Nebula, Sirius, Beehive cluster, early spring sky

    Sat., Apr 4

4 – 5 p.m.

7:30 – 8:30 p.m.

8:30 – 10:30 p.m.

Waxing gibbous Moon, Beehive cluster, Mizar & Alcor, Algieba, early spring sky
    Sat., Apr. 18

4 – 5 p.m.

7:30 – 8:30 p.m.

8:30 – 10:30 p.m.

Algieba, carbon star R Leonis, Mizar & Alcor, early spring sky
    Sat., May 2

5 – 6 p.m.

8 – 9 p.m.

9 – 11 p.m.

Waxing gibbous Moon, Algieba, Mizar & Alcor, carbon star Y CVn, M5 star cluster, spring sky

     Sat., May 16

   5 – 6 p.m.  

 8 – 9 p.m.

9 – 11 p.m.

Mizar & Alcor, M5 & M13 star clusters, spring sky

NIGHTLY SKY CALENDAR                                                                                                                                                      

*, !, !! – interesting to very interesting celestial event

E –  calendar or geometry- related event (such as an equinox)

 

Day Date Note Description
Mon Mar. 2 First Quarter Moon
Sun 8 E Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) resumes at 2 a.m. Set clocks ahead 1 hour.
Mon 9 FULL Worm MOON
Tue 10 The Moon reaches perigee at 357,122 km (221, 905 miles) from earth’s center.
Sat 14 ! Free PUBLIC NIGHT at the WCSU Planetarium and Observatory on the Westside Campus.
Planetarium shows: 4 – 5 p.m. and 7 – 8 p.m. EDT
Viewing with 20-inch telescope (if skies are clear): 8 – 10 p.m. EDT.
Visible: Venus, Orion Nebula, Sirius, late winter sky
Mon 16 Last Quarter Moon
Tue/Wed 17, 18 (!! predawn) A line of planets (Mercury, Saturn, Jupiter and Mars, with Mercury lowest and leftmost), plus the waning crescent Moon forming a tight triangle with Jupiter and Mars on the 18th. look southeast. (Saturn, Mars and Jupiter remain along a shallow curve, visible in the SE before dawn, through the first few days op April.)
Thu 19 E The vernal equinox occurs at 11:50 p.m. This is the earliest spring equinox in 124 years.
Tue 24 The New Moon reaches apogee at 406,692 km (252,706 miles) from Earth’s center.
Tue 24 (predawn) Mercury reaches greatest western elongation, about 28 degrees from the Sun, but this is not a favorable appearance; the planet is low in the ESE predawn twilight.
Tue 24 ! Venus reaches greatest eastern elongation, 46 degrees from the Sun. Look high in the west after sunset to find super-bright Venus; it will be visible, ever lower, for the next three hours. In a telescope, venus appears half lighted, like a quarter Moon.
Sat 28 ! Free PUBLIC NIGHT at the WCSU Planetarium and Observatory on the Westside Campus.
Planetarium shows: 4 – 5 p.m. and 7 – 8 p.m. EDT
Viewing with 20-inch telescope (if skies are clear): 8 – 10 p.m. EDT.
Visible: Crescent Moon, Venus, Orion Nebula, Sirius, Beehive cluster, early spring sky
Wed Apr. 1 First Quarter Moon
Sat 4 ! Free PUBLIC NIGHT at the WCSU Planetarium and Observatory on the Westside Campus.
Planetarium shows: 4 – 5 p.m. and 7:30 – 8:30 p.m. EDT
Viewing with 20-inch telescope (if skies are clear): 8:30 – 10:30 p.m. EDT
Visible: Waxing gibbous Moon, Beehive cluster, MIzar and Alcor, Algieba, late winter sky
Tue 7 ! FULL Pink MOON. The Moon reaches perigee at 356,907 km (221,772 miles) from Earth’s center. LARGEST FULL MOON IN 2020.
Tue 14 (! predawn) The Last Quarter Moon is at the right side of the lineup (looking R to L) of Jupiter, Saturn and Mars. Look SE an hour before sunrise.
Wed 15 (! predawn) The Moon is below Saturn in the lineup (looking R to L), of Jupiter, Saturn and Mars.
Thu 16 (! predawn) The Moon is below and left of Mars in the lineup (looking R to L), of Jupiter, saturn and Mars.
Sat 18 ! Free PUBLIC NIGHT at the WCSU Planetarium and Observatory on the Westside Campus.
Planetarium shows: 4 – 5 p.m. and 7:30 – 8:30 p.m. EDT
Viewing with 20-inch telescope (if skies are clear): 8:30 – 10:30 p.m. EDT
Visible: Algieba, carbon star R Leonis, Mizar & Alcor, early spring sky
Mon 20 The Moon reaches apogee at 406,462 kilometers (252,563 miles) from Earth’s center.
Wed 22 New Moon
Sat 25 Waxing crescent Moon near the star Aldebaran (in Taurus); look WNW an hour after sunset to see the crescent Moon in the V-shaped Hyades star cluster, with the Pleiades cluster toward the right.
Sun 26 ! Look for the thin crescent Moon directly left of the brilliant planet Venus in the WNW sky an hour after sunset.
Thu 30 First Quarter Moon
Sat May 2 ! Free PUBLIC NIGHT at the WCSU Planetarium and Observatory on the Westside Campus.
Planetarium shows: 5 – 6 p.m. and 8 – 9 p.m. EDT
Viewing with 20-inch telescope (if skies are clear): 9 – 11 p.m. EDT
Visible: Waxing gibbous Moon, Algieba, Mizar & Alcor, M5 star cluster, spring sky
Tue 5 The moon reaches perigee at 359,654 km (223,478 miles) from Earth’s center.
Thu 7 FULL Flower MOON
Tue 12 * The Moon passes near Jupiter and Saturn.
Thu 14 * The Last Quarter Moon passes near Mars.
Sat 16 ! Free PUBLIC NIGHT at the WCSU Planetarium and Observatory on the Westside Campus.
Planetarium shows: 5 – 6 p.m. and 8 – 9 p.m. EDT
Viewing with 20-inch telescope (if skies are clear): 9 – 11 p.m. EDT
Visible: Mizar & Alcor, M5 and M13 star clusters, spring sky
Mon 18 The Moon reaches apogee at 405,583 km (252,017 miles) from earth’s center.
Thu. May 21 * There is a close conjunction of Mercury and Venus in W evening twilight, with a thin crescent Moon nearby.
Fri 29 First Quarter Moon

PLANETARY INFORMATION                                                                                              

MERCURY reaches greatest western elongation on March 24, the same day Venus reaches greatest eastern elongation. Being at G.W.E. means the planet will rise before the Sun and be visible briefly in the predawn sky. But this is not a favorable appearance; Mercury at best is low in the ESE sky. Still, it forms the lowest of a gorgeous line of planets (from ESE to SSE) that continues with Saturn, Jupiter and Mars, lasting from March 13 to 21.

VENUS – dominates the western sky after sunset during the spring. It reaches greatest eastern elongation on March 24 and visible for more than three hours after sunset. In a telescope, Venus at G.E.E. looks like a tiny First Quarter Moon. On April 27, Venus reaches greatest brilliancy as a larger lighted crescent

MARS shares the spring predawn sky with Saturn and much brighter Jupiter, plus the waning crescent Moon. Look SE an hour before sunrise. On March 18, Jupiter, the Moon and Mars make a striking triangle with Saturn farther left. Jupiter and Mars remain very close for the next few nights, then Mars drifts eastward and joins closely with Saturn at the very end of March and the first night of April. Thereafter, Mars moves eastward, separating from Saturn and Jupiter

JUPITERis the brightest object (other than the Moon) in the SE predawn sky. It will slowly close with Saturn during the spring.

SATURN – spends the spring with Jupiter and Mars in the SE predawn sky.


Star Watch is a service provided by the Earth and Planetary Sciences program at Western Connecticut State University. Thanks for connecting!