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MY FAVORITE ASTRONOMICAL EVENTS

 

Some of the celestial objects discussed would have been hard to see in a haze!! Watch for more content soon now that I have a Meade ETX scope!!

View my 40 Years of my Astronomy Hobby page produced in 2008.

View my new SPF-120 Sun Blog for the 2012-2013 sunspot maximum period.

Go here to re-promote Pluto!!

CONTENTS: Comets / Solar Eclipses / Lunar Eclipses / Transits / Conjunctions / Planets / Other / Observatory Visits


Comets

    Comet Bennett about April 1970 - I remember being waken up early by my folks to see this one. It was fairly bright naked eye. I also viewed it with my telescope.

    Comet Kahoutek 1973-1974 - I was never able to find that one despite all the hoopla!!

    Comet Halley 1985 - I was able to see it only in binoculars. I also saw it through a telescope at AFGL when I was there for something related to my work at Aerodyne Research, Inc.

    Comet Hyautake March 1996 - My best view was out in West Brookfield, MA during late March 1996 when it was way up in the north sky - the ion tail was real long!!!

    Comet Hale-Bopp Late Winter and Spring 1997 - Saw it naked eye even in light polluted Arlington, MA and got a good view naked eye and with binoculars and telescope in West Brookfield, MA where I grew up.

    Comet Ikeya-Zhang - I finally found it in the constellation Cepheus using 7x35 binoculars at about 4:15 am on April 17, 2002!! Go here to see some coincidences I noticed related to the comet!!

    Comet Machholz - Found it with my 10x50 binoculars in mid-December 2004 in Arlington, again with 8x25 binoculars during New Years' Day 2005 weekend in Quincy, MA. Supposed to be near Algol in mid-January 2005.

    10/27/07 - As Game 4 of the World series is being played (The Sox won the World Championship at 12:05 am October 29, 2007.) on October 28, 2007, there is a fairly bright naked eye comet named Comet Holmes visible in the northern sky. I looked at the comet myself with naked eye, my 10x50 binoculars and with my 5" telescope from about 09:30-09:40 PM. It looks like an extra "star" in the constellation Perseus with the naked eye; as a compact yellowish (hint of red) blob in my binoculars and as a faintish disk with a bright center from my telescope. I saw 2-3 "stars" on the edge of the bright center with my telescope. The Red Sox were ahead 1-0 when I looked at the comet; now they are ahead 2-0 in the 5th inning as I post this. This comet's brightening was entirely unexpected by astronomers.

    Go here for more details on the comet.


    I think this comet heralded victory for the Red Sox meaning that a rare astronomical event is going to be associated with the 2007 Championship just like in 2004. Recall that the Sox broke The Curse at the tail end of totality of a total lunar eclipse in 2004. You may want to go here for the details and photos of the 2004 eclipse.

    10/31/07 - I looked at the comet again on Halloween night and the coma and head expanded considerably since October 28, 2007. The core looked granular in my 10x50 binoculars, reminding me a little bit of the gnats that helped Cleveland defeat the Yank-hiss in the 2007 ALDS.

    I think I sighted Comet Lulin in 7x50 binoculars in Arlington, mA at about 10:40 PM EST on February 24, 2009 in the constllation Leo about 6 deg from Saturn. It looked like a faint blur. I saw it again in 10x50 binoculars a day or two afterwards from Quincy, MA while it was approaching the bright star Regulus in Leo. It was a more easily visible blur.

    NEW!!I sighted Comet Lovejoy with my Tasco 7x50 binoculars at about 11:00 PM EST, December 30, 2014. The comet looked like a fuzzy blob of light somewhat dimmer than the Orion Nebula with a very slight hint of a tail. According to the finder charts in Sky and Telescope magazine, the comet was in the southeastern corner of the constellation Lepus which is just south of the constellation Orion. I found this comet very easily which is surprising given that the night skies are somewhat light polluted in Arlington Heights, MA. I saw this comet with my bigger and more powerful Celestron 15x70 binoculars on December 31, 2014 and again on January 1, 2015 in Quincy, MA. The comet looked pretty much the same as I saw it back on December 30, 2014 but bigger. The Moon was getting brighter and closer to the comet during the three days I observed it.


Solar Eclipses

    March 7, 1970 - Was total over Nantucket, was well over 90% when I watched it indirectly with a pinhole camera in West Brookfield, MA. I remember the temperature dropping several degrees.

    July 1972 - Was over 80% over West Brookfield, MA. Projected image of Sun through 60 mm refractor on sheet of paper.

    May 10, 1994 - Was annular in southern Vermont. Pictures (click here) taken by me at Farmbrook Motel in Plymouth, VT near Calvin Coolidge's birthplace and near White River Junction, VT. The temperature dropped by a few degrees during the annular phase.


Lunar Eclipses


Transits

    I remember observing a transit of Mercury back on May 9, 1970 and another one that happened in November 1973 by projectin the image of the Sun through 60 mm refractor on sheet of paper. I was unable to photograph the November 8, 2006 transit because of bad weather but I did see Mercury with my 10x50 binoculars and unaided eye at ~6:20 AM locat time on November 26, 2006.

    NEW!!Photos and a Flash animation of the Transit of Mercury of May 9, 2016.

    Venus transited the Sun on June 8, 2004 (photos) and again in 2012. I watched the 2012 transit online.


Conjunctions

    February 22, 2002 - Jupiter near Moon, photos with my Nikon Coolpix 995 digital camera.

    April-May 2002 - All five bright planets in evening sky. Was able to see Mercury, Venus, Jupiter but harder to find Saturn and Mars in the light pollution near Boston, MA. Photos: ONE / TWO / THREE / FOUR

    I observed a rare planetary grouping of Mercury, Venus and Saturn on Monday, June 27, 2005 with my 10x50 binoculars. Mercury and Venus were less than a half degree apart - I saw the pair through my 70 mm refractor.

    Photos of Venus and Saturn close to each other on July 2, 2007, two days after a conjunction when they were 0.7o apart: One / Two / Three.

    I have since sighted Mercury with naked eye, 10x50 binoculars and my Meade ETX-125 telescope on Sunday, May 4, 2008. It appeared as a very small gibbous phase disc in my telescope. I photographed it next to the crescent Moon on May 6, 2008. 5 Photos: One / Two / Three / Four / Five

    Photos of Conjunction of crescent Moon, Venus and Jupiter taken December 1, 2008: One / Two

    Photos of Venus and Mercury taken April 3, 2010.

    Photos of Mercury and Jupiter near Venus taken on May 26 and 27, 2013.

    Photos of Venus very near the Moon taken on September 8, 2013.

    Go here for photos of the Moon close to Mars and Spica on July 5, 2014 and the Moon close to Saturn on July 7, 2014.


Planets

    NEW!! A blast from my past: Some October-November 1974 drawings of Jupiter, Saturn and the Sun that I recently found: One / Two

    Mars made its closest EVER approach to Earth on August 27, 2003 which happens to be on my birthday. More details can be found here.

    I made another sighting of Saturn on February 10, 2007 at ~5:45 PM EST through my 10x50 binoculars and at 27x through my 70mm refractor.

    Pluto needs to be re-promoted!! View a few of my photos of Pluto taken October 2006: One / Two / Three / Four View more photos that were taken March 31-April 1, 2009: One / Two / Three / Four / Five / Six

    Since my photos of Pluto, I have taken:
    - Photos of Neptune taken August 2012 off the northern coast of Norway: One / Two / Three

    Photos taken of the planet Venus during late December 2013 and early January 2014. Many of the photos show Venus' thin crescent.
    Photos: December 27, 2013: One / Two / Three / Four / Five / Six / Seven
    January 1, 2014: One / Two / Three / Four / Five
    January 3, 2014: One / Close-up

    - NEW!! - Mercury, Venus and Comet Lovejoy Near New Year's Day 2015 - photos taken December 31, 2014 - January 2, 2015.


Other

    Year 2000 was a good year for astronomical events - including a lunar eclipse just two days before MIT Club of Boston's Gala 2000 in January!! Unfortuneatly, it snowed that day so I could not get any pictures of the eclipse to use on the MIT Club of Boston's Gala 2000 page. There was a Great Conjunction of all 5 bright planets in May 2000. Also, Comet LINEAR behaved non-LINEAR-ly by breaking apart during the summer of 2000!!:-)

    Great Sunspot Outbreak of Late October 2003 aka "The Perfect Solar Storm" - I saw my first aurora since I think 1973 on October 30, 2003 which is on the 12th anniversary of the "Perfect Storm" of October 30-31, 1991.

    View photos of a Canadian Moonset photographed September 18, 2005 from Toronto.

    Photos of International Space Station taken June 20, 2007.

    NEW!! A video of the International Space Station that I posted on YouTube

    My new page about 2009 and its importance to astronomy and space.

    My wife and I got to see a couple moon rocks up close after an MIT Club of Boston's Boston Seminar Series lecture about the Moon's core held October 19, 2011.

    My Super Moon page - photos of the full moon during Cinco de Mayo (May 5), 2012.

    Super Moons of 2014 - photos of the full moon during July 11 and August 10, 2014.

    - NEW!! Photos of I Got a Sun Dog, etc. for Christmas 2015. Photos taken December 22-25, 2015 including halo around the nearly full Christmas Eve Moon; page produced January 1, 2016.

    Photo of a Galaxy taken in May 2013.

    My wife and I saw Neil Degrasse Tyson at the Wilbur Theatre in Boston on January 15, 2015. Tyson hosted an updated remake of Carl Sagan's Cosmos series in 2014. Photos: One / Two / Three


Observatory Visits

I have been to the following observatories:

  • Lowell Observatory, where the planet Pluto was first discovered, near Flagstaff, AZ. I visited it in 1978.
  • Wallace Observatory in Westford, MA. This observatory is run by MIT. I visited it in the early 1980s during my grad school days at MIT.
  • Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, for Boston Amateur Telescope Makers club monthly meetings and Public Observatory Nights.
  • Oak Ridge Observatory, Harvard, MA - I saw their 61" telescope and a large radio telescope when I visited it with members of the Aldrich Astronomical Society c. 1989.
  • Lick Observatory on top of Mt. Hamilton, near Silicon Valley, CA. It is the home of the second largest refracting telescope in the world. I visited it in 2004. Panorama: One
  • Observatory at Maria Mitchell Association on Nantucket Island, MA. Maria Mitchell was the first woman astronomer in the USA. I visited it on August 22, 2007. Some photos: One / Two / Three / Four / Five / Six / Seven / Eight / Nine / Ten / Eleven
  • Griffith Observatory near Hollywood/Los Angeles, CA. I visited it on March 29, 2009. Panoramas: One / Two / Three / Four / Five


Page modified May 14, 2016.


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