The Moon, Jupiter, Saturn and Mars – April 14-16, 2020

Subtitle: Get Up At 5 Am This Week

The Moon is going to glide past Jupiter, Saturn and Mars in the hours before sunrise on Tuesday 4/14, Wednesday 4/15, and Thursday 4/16. At 5 am on Tuesday, the Moon will be 7° 45’ from Jupiter. Closest approach to Jupiter actually happens Tuesday evening but will not be visible for us here in the US.

The Moon and Jupiter at 05:00 on 4/14/2020

However, after gliding past Jupiter, by 5am Wednesday morning the Moon will be 3° 10’ from Saturn.

The Moon and Saturn at 05:00 on 4/15/2020

By 5 am on Thursday, the Moon will have slipped past Mars, but will still be only 3° 30’ away from it.

The Moon and Mars at 05:00 on 4/16/2020

So if your “sheltering in place” somewhere with a good southeastern view, and are inclined to get up just before 5 am; go out and take a look…

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Oh My Stars! An Astronomy Program

Oh My Stars! An Astronomy Program
Tentatively Rescheduled for Saturday February 1, 2020 6:30 PM – 8:30 PM
Cancelled – Will Be Rescheduled
Ft. Pulaski National Monument, Savannah, GA

Weather permitting, Ft. Pulaski National Monument will be hosting members of the Oglethorpe Astronomical Association for a free public observing program. The members will be setting up telescopes of all sizes to observe an assortment of objects including the Moon, Venus, and possibly Mercury, Neptune and Uranus. We’ll also have views of several deep sky objects such as the Great Orion Nebula, the Andromeda Galaxy, the Double Cluster in Perseus, the M41 star cluster in the constellation Canis Major; just to name a few.

The event will run from 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM, but the gates will close for entry promptly at 7:30 PM and further entry into the park will not be permitted at that point. Saturday February 1st will be the rain date if the weather doesn’t cooperate on Friday.

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Mercury Transit 2019

On Monday November 11, 2019 the planet Mercury will pass in front of (transit) the Sun  from our point of view on Earth. This is the 4th of a total of 14 Mercury transits that will  occur this century. However, the next two transits (2032 & 2039) are not going to be visible from the United States. After this transit on Monday, the next one that will be visible for folks in the continental US will not be until May 2049; 29 years from now.

Folk in the Eastern part of North America will be able to watch the whole transit from start to finish on Monday. The events starts at about 7:35 AM, so you’ll need a good view to the east-southeast as the Sun will only be about 8 degrees above the horizon at the beginning. The event end at about 1:04 PM.

It should go without saying, but I’ll do so anyway…. you should only try and observe the Sun directly if you have the proper solar equipment to do so! Even a brief glance at the Sun can permanently damage your eyesight. The planet Mercury will appear as a small dot (tiny really) as it passes in front of the Sun, so it is unlikely that you would be able to see this without properly filtered equipment. If you break out the eclipse glasses you saved from The Great Eclipse Of August 2017, you probably won’t be able to see anything. If you’re going to try and take pictures of the event, again make sure your camera is properly filtered with a solar filter to photograph the Sun.

If you don’t have the proper equipment to watch this event, you can come out and use the Oglethorpe Astronomical Association’s (OAA) solar filtered telescopes to take a look. We will have at least 3 telescopes set-up at Skidaway Island State Park for the duration. We plan to be on location and have the telescopes set-up by 7:30 AM. Unfortunately we will miss the very beginning of the event because the Sun will not have climbed high enough above the trees at the start. But we will start viewing as soon as possible and will remain for the whole event.

There is a $5 parking fee per vehicle to get into the park (unless you have a pass), but Skidaway Island State Park is a great place to spend a morning even if there wasn’t a rare Astronomical event to watch; so its money well spent. For questions about the event or the park, please contact Skidaway Island State Park at (912) 598-2300, or check out their events list on Facebook. You can also reach out to the OAA at savannahastronomy+owner@groups.io

Here are some links for more information about this (and future) Mercury transits for you to check out:

Don’t Miss Monday’s Rare Transit of Mercury – Sky & Telescope

Mercury Transit 2019: Where and How to See It on Nov. 11 | Space

Transit of Mercury on November 11, 2019 | Tonight | EarthSky

How to See the 2019 Mercury Transit | The Planetary Society

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Stargazing In The Park

Skidaway Island State Park will be hosting the Oglethorpe Astronomical Association for an evening of public stargazing and planet viewing on Friday October 4th, 2019. Weather permitting, the program will begin at 7:30 PM and will last until 9:30 PM. The OAA will have telescopes set-up to view the Moon, Jupiter & Saturn; as well as several double-star systems, star clusters, nebula and possibly even a galaxy or two. Admission to the park is $5 per vehicle. For questions or additional information, please contact the staff at Skidaway Island State Park at (912) 598-2300.

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