Our Current Sky

Our Current Sky

our-current-skiesWhat’s Up in Southwest Florida’s February Skies

A Total Solar Eclipse will cross the United States on August 21, 2017.  Here in Fort Myers, FL, we are not along the path of totality, so we will see a partial eclipse. A full-country Eclipse 2017 USA map is here (opens in new tab).  An alternative map with local times is here (opens in new tab).


The Calusa Nature Center & Planetarium will be showing two features on “Flight” at noon daily starting in February.   At 2 pm, we will watch galaxies collide in “Cosmic Castaways” and also do some orientation to SW FL night skies in the dome. At 3 pm, we’ll enjoy European Southern Observatories’ “From Earth to the Universe” and (optionally) “Winter Stargazing” or Potluck: the 3 p.m. show often has fewer guests, so when that happens, we like to offer several alternatives so that people can see the things that most interest them (or are most fun/appropriate for their children’s age groups). Each show is preceded by a live presentation to orient visitors to SW Florida’s night (and pre-dawn) skies this month. See you there!

Heather Preston, Planetarium Director, Calusa Nature Center Planetarium, Fort Myers, FL

Astronomy News Bulletins:

Calvin College professor Larry Molnar and his students along with colleagues from Apache Point Observatory (Karen Kinemuchi) and the University of Wyoming (Henry Kobulnicky) are predicting a change to the night sky that will be visible to the naked eye.

“It’s a one-in-a-million chance that you can predict an explosion,” Molnar said of his bold prognostication. “It’s never been done before.”

Molnar’s prediction is that a binary star (two stars orbiting each other) he is monitoring will merge and explode in 2022, give or take a year; at which time the star will increase its brightness ten thousand fold, becoming one of the brighter stars in the heavens for a time. The star will be visible as part of the constellation Cygnus, and will add a star to the recognizable Northern Cross star pattern.

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2017-01-astronomers-explosion-night-sky.html

Friday, January 13th, 2017

Get in on the Pro-Am Comet Observing Action! Remember, the campaign starts later THIS MONTH: https://astronomynow.com/2016/11/24/worldwide-pro-am-help-sought-for-comet-trio-study/. The actual page with details is at the Planetary Sciences Institute, here: http://www.psi.edu/41P45P46P

Wednesday, January 25th, 2017 Astronomy News Bulletin:

Jan 25th update from (opens in new tab) EarthSky.org:  An asteroid designated 2017 BX – found just days ago, on January 20 – passed between the Earth and moon on late Tuesday night according to clocks in the Americas. The asteroid’s closest approach was 11:45 EST on January 24, 2017 (04:45 UTC on January 25). It came within 0.68 lunar distances, or about 162,252 miles (261,120 km). Slooh broadcast a show about this asteroid last night, which you can see in the video above. Slooh said that asteroid 2017 BX has been nicknamed “Rerun” in honor of the beloved, late actor Fred Berry.


Useful Sites for Backyard Astronomers…

Here is an off-site excellent summary (opens in new page) of night sky observables this month…

The International Space Station is visible some nights, and is very bright! For specific visibility direction, greatest altitude, and time at your location: https://spotthestation.nasa.gov/sightings/

The Hubble Space Telescope is visible some nights.  For specific times and routes: http://www.heavens-above.com/