The 'LIVING Planetarium' Project 2018: See the Crescent Moon AND Crescent Venus, Jupiter, Mars and Saturn, any night with a clear sky (and the Space Station some nights)!

Tuesday. Sept. 18:  - cloudy, rain - we  don't know yet if we will be observing in Northport tonight. (Probably NOT, because of impending tropical storm Florence's leftover storms on Tuesday)   (Direction maps below)
For the week of Sept. 16-23: Special RARE Event:  If the sky is clear, we will examine planet Venus' crescent phase just before it leaves our evening sky and  goes into the pre-dawn morning sky. Please read the next paragraph for details about this. We will probably not stay much later than 8:30. Come VERY early - call to find out if we will be starting BEFORE SUNSET to see this!. Check back around sunset any evening (because that's when we make our final decision based on sky conditions) or call 631-664-0515. (If "we don't know yet if we will" appears above, please refresh the page, as that may be outdated.) And if it's cloudy, but then clears early enough to observe, it will be posted here.

Special event details: The planet Venus is between the Earth and the Sun in its orbit around the Sun. Once in about 1 1/2 years, (NOW) it actually passes between us and the Sun. For these few weeks we can see Venus' "night side", facing us, and its "day side", facing the Sun. Because it is between us and the Sun, Venus (and Mercury) appear to show phases just like our Moon! Venus is now showing itself as a "moon-like" CRESCENT, not the usual entire disk. The "left" side is illuminated by sunlight; that is "daytime" on Venus! The "right" side, which we cannot see, is "night time"; facing away from the Sun.  But because it is so close to the Sun as seen from Earth, it is ONLY VISIBLE FOR ABOUT 1 HOUR before it sets. COME EARLY to see this! (By the way, THIS is how astronauts on Mars would see Earth through their telescopes, as a pale blue crescent, because Earth would be between Mars and the Sun!)
Scheduling note: The location we observe at, in Northport Village, is very quiet on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday evenings. Very few people are in the park those nights, so The Living Planetarium will present programs MOSTLY on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings. However, if there is an interesting astronomical event (like Venus' briefly present crescent phase*) or a special evening event in the Village) any OTHER day, we may present a special program that evening. [*With Venus now in its rarely-seen crescent phase as it is about to leave the evening sky, we WILL try to take advantage of any clear evening for just this couple of weeks to catch Venus just around sunset. But on those evenings we may not stay later to observe the other 3 planets, since there will be plenty of opportunities on other nights to see them. Mars, Jupiter and Saturn will remain in the evening sky for months after this.]

ALL FOUR IN ONE EVENING! WOW! We'll see all 4 visible planets AGAIN next time,  And, if you come VERY EARLY (7:30 pm), Venus is now coming between us and the Sun, showing its moon-like phases, visible just a few weeks every 2 years! Come early, and SOON, to see this because Venus is just visible for about an hour, and will only be visible for a few more weeks.

AFFORDABLE USED TELESCOPES spotted FOR SALE! (..no, not the ones we use, but instruments very much like them): We will ONLY POST telescopes we feel are of good quality and reasonably priced. We see MANY mediocre items frequently, but we won't bother listing them. HURRY - these things go FAST!
1 moderate-quality used telescope seen at Unique thrift shop on Old Country Rd. and Post Ave. in Westbury! HURRY THIS ONE MAY STILL BE AVAILABLE!  Similar to ours but smaller, but with plastic altazimuth mount (not very stable but ok for beginner. We prefer the heavier equatorial mount).  3" reflector telescope, old-style crosshairs telescope finder, aluminum tripod.  Price unknown- probably around $30, it just came in. Weird sale pricing policy: Half Price today only IF YOU HAVE THEIR APP, regular price all other days except 25% off sale on Mondays and Thursdays.)


   The Living Planetarium project is a FREE opportunity for you and your family and friends to look through powerful telescopes at stars, planets, the Moon, and even eclipses! Children of ANY AGE are also welcome, and we have a stepladder for the kids who are not tall enough to look through the telescopes. (And if a child has any difficulty seeing it, we will adjust the equipment and re-try again and again until she/he sees it!) And a special smartphone adapter is available if you want to take pictures through the telescope!

   We call this the 'Living Planetarium' because we look at real objects in the real sky, and we have 'space music' and compass direction signs like an indoor planetarium. This is an outdoor activity, so dress for the cool evening temperatures. Many indoor planetariums show the entire starry sky as you could see it from a very dark location, (not from suburbia) and often do not show where the planets are. You really can not see all those stars from here.  We 'focus' on the planets (pardon the pun), which indoor planetariums really SHOULD do, because they are very bright and easy to find. And our live presentations mean you have a rare opportunity to ask us questions! They are NOT pre-recorded "shows" on a disc that can't respond to your questions.
   With school now back in session, we end any weekday stargazing events earlier, around 10pm. We observe only on CLEAR evenings. Unlike some astronomy 'clubs', we do not show slides of the planets indoors if it's cloudy. We ONLY do live observations. If it's clear tomorrow, (or any other day), check here again. We're usually in Northport Harbor Park at the 'bottom' end of Main Street, on the northwest corner of Main St & Woodbine Ave, diagonally across from Skipper’s Restaurant from about 8:15  - 10:30pm.  Sometimes we use other locations (sometimes if there's a public event going on elsewhere, we'll set up there, or if it's a weeknight when people aren't out and about, and we are working on a new presentation, you are welcome to watch.)
   Further down this page is a list of locations we might be at, and we'll  highlight  the place we'll be at that evening.) Check the sky - if you see clouds then, it's cancelled. Or call 631-486-4818  before sunset,  or 1-631-664-0515 after sunset.
   We don't know yet when skies will stay clear. (oh, did I forget to mention clear skies AGAIN? LOL!) Please look outside: if the sky at sunset is not clear blue, we will not do it that evening. ( Here's why: On a recent evening last week, the sky had just a few small clouds at sunset, so we posted here that we WILL be doing it then, and emailed all people on our list that we would be there. By the time we got there it had completely clouded over, so we cancelled it. Even a partly cloudy sky is not good, because by the time we set up and aim at a planet, the clouds cover it and we have to wait sometimes 20 minutes till we get another 10-minute clear spot. Very frustrating for viewers!  There will be plenty more clear nights!) 
Oh, by the waySome evenings we see the International Space Station go by: Reflecting light from the Sun, it looks like a bright star or like  Jupiter, but moves slowly like a plane but does not have blinking aircraft lights: Times and where it is in the sky will be listed here.  NEWS: The International Space Station will again be visible on clear evenings from Thursday Sept. 20 to Monday Sept 24! Come down and see it!
°
(We use our "clock & fist" measurement system to describe where to find objects in the sky. Our 'horizon clock' is our direction compass: Imagine you are standing in the center of a traditional clock. 12:00 means looking North; 6 means South, 3 = east, and the Sun sets in the W, at 9 on this scale.)
Measure an object's height above the horizon by making a fist with your outstretched arm. Use your fist as a 'ruler'. 1 fist up = 10 degrees, 2 = 20... etc....    9 = overhead.)
*You will learn how to use these 'clock & fist' measurements next time when we teach how to measure the sky, as part of the Living Planetarium program.

The Living Planetarium staff were out of the 'office' last summer from Aug. 16 through Sept. 1. We went on an expedition to Casper, Wyoming, to observe the Total Solar Eclipse that swept across our country on the 21st.  ('You're such a lovely audience; we'd loved to have taken you there with us' - apologies to the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper!) It was absolutely INCREDIBLE! (In past years we observed partial eclipses from Long Island, and they were fascinating, but nothing comes close to the Total Eclipse experience.) [Photo credit Gaye and  Jeff Barlowe.]

PS: Thank you for the pictures! (If you were here on any night and you took pictures or video of the telescope view, or of your family and friends watching, please send me a link to them so I can post them here!  Woodge1@hotmail.com )

In February, on an unusually warm Tuesday evening, it was mild enough to observe! About 30 people enjoyed viewing the crescent Moon through the telescope.

Notes from the summer of 2016: Sunday night, Sept. 26 from  Northport - Absolutely Incredible! The sky COMPLETELY CLEARED just in time for the lunar eclipse- and it was fantastic! Many excited people watched in total awe as the Moon slipped into the Earth's shadow and became reddish-brown in color. The sky remained perfectly clear right through to totality. Earlier in the evening we looked at Saturn's rings. Many people enjoyed viewing Saturn! Viewing of Saturn and its rings was fantastic! Everyone was amazed that you could see it so clearly; it almost looked like it was an artificial picture, but it was the real thing!

  N   We were featured in Newsday's 2018 Summer Fun Book as a wonderful family activity, and sometime this fall we may be interviewed by FiOS1 for a "Push/Pause" TV story, or a CableVision story, and also a print media story!

FUTURE SPECIAL EVENTS:
o Currently, on evenings in September 2018 we are following the planets Venus and Jupiter. Then we will turn the telescope to view the planet Saturn and its rings. And at the same time we will see the red planet Mars! (Scientists recently found a large underground 'lake' on the Red Planet! But it is not visible in our telescopes.)
  .  We will see the International Space Station go by on some clear evenings!  (from Thursday Sept. 20 to Monday Sept 24!)
  /   Around the 2nd weekend in December, the Geminid Meteor Shower lights up the sky as winter approaches. Dress VERY WARM even if it is a mild evening. Find a location where there is a clear sky.  And then find the darkest place far from suburban streetlights and watch the entire sky starting after 11pm.  The Living Planetarium will not be doing a public meteor watch 'party'. But, weather permitting, we will still have stargazing at our usual times.
    The next Total Lunar Eclipse will be this winter, on January 19, 2019:   The Living Planetarium PROBABLY will watch this! Visible from North and South America, Europe, Africa. As explained in Space.com: "Lunar eclipses occur when Earth's shadow blocks the sun's light, which otherwise reflects off the moon. There are three types — total, partial and penumbral — with the most dramatic being a total lunar eclipse, in which Earth's shadow completely covers the moon." Totally safe to observe with the naked eye; the Moon will darken, possibly turn red or brown, possibly even disappear for an hour, then the sames stages of brightness and color will be seen in reverse order until the Full Moon is bright again.
 c  The next Partial (Annular) Solar Eclipse visible from the US will be in 5 years, with only 30% partiality (a sky-blue 'chip' out of the Sun's disk) occurring around noon here in NY on October 14, 2023. WARNING: You MUST NOT look at the Sun with the naked eye! Make the safe projection box (see illustration below.) Annular means the Moon will be a little too far from Earth to cover the entire Sun, so maximum eclipse in Western states (traveling from Texas to New Mexico to Utah to Nevada to extreme Northern California and ending in Oregon) will look like a thin bright 'ring' of sunlight    O    around the dark disk of the Moon. (from the word Annulus, meaning 'ring'). It will not 'turn day into night'; it will just appear as dim as a very overcast, cloudy day. (See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_eclipse_of_October_14,_2023#/media/File:SE2023Oct14A.png
  o  The next Total Solar Eclipse visible from the US will be in 6 years, with totality passing right over Niagara Falls, on April 10, 2024. WARNING: You MUST NOT look at the Sun with the naked eye! Make the safe projection box (see illustration below.) (Sounds like a long way off, but waiting for last summer's eclipse back in 2010 seemed like it took forever also, but it's amazing how fast 7 years passes!)
You are welcome to print out the diagram below, and save it for 2023 and 2024.
How to make a projection box to view the solar eclipses safely:
Get the biggest box you can find. (A box from a large appliance works fantastic, but so will a shoe box, but it will have a smaller image.) Punch a small hole the size of a dime in the top center of one end of the box. Cover hole with aluminum foil; pierce the center of the foil with a pin. Cover the INSIDE of the OPPOSITE END of the box with white paper. Aim the foil end of the box towards the sun (DO NOT LOOK DIRECTLY AT THE SUN.) Now look into the dark inside of the box and watch the projected image of the eclipse on the white paper! The Moon partially covering the Sun will look like this:    c       (We have done this with countless partial solar eclipses and it worked every time!) Also look at the shadows on the ground cast by close-together tree leaves. The light areas between the shadows will also be projected images of the eclipse!

o NEW!! We are now adding the new, largest 6" Dobsonian Reflector telescope to our observation evenings - it gives us bigger, brighter color views! We are using it, along with the 4 1/2" Newtonian Reflector scope to examine Jupiter and 4 of its moons, ( some of which are now believed to have an ocean below their icy surface crust! - and possible primitive life, clinging to ocean-floor steam jets. Click here to read about Saturn's ocean moons.)

Scroll down for details about our next observing session.  Enjoy a fascinating live "mini astronomy class" while you are using the telescope.

If it's clear, we set up The Living Planetarium at different locations, depending on which part of the sky we will observe. Below is a list of the locations we may be at.
The         yellow highlighted location below  is the place where we would set up the telescope [IF we decided we can do it tonight. But please call first; we don't want you making the trip for nothing.]
[NO yellow highlighted location below means we have not planned anything YET for this evening] ]]]
     Northport Park;  near the flagpole street corner at Woodbine Ave. at the bottom end of Main St. in Northport Village
. Diagonally opposite from SKIPPER'S Restaurant.  ( From Huntington, Take Main St (25A) 5 miles E of Huntington and turn left on Woodbine Ave; go 3 miles to the Park at intersection with Main St.)   Click here for Map: 
[EXACT GPS location: 21 Main St., Northport, NY 11768. Put this into your GPS. It will take you there, but it is a park next to the dock so you won't see any street numbers. The number '21' is just to pinpoint the GPS. When you get there, find us diagonally opposite Skippers' Restaurant, at the NorthWest  street corner of Main & Woodbine, with its FLAGPOLE and the MEMORIAL ROCK and the LARGE STONE PATIO on the park corner. Look for the telescope. We would be within about 100 ft of that GPS location. ]

Map:


...or we might observe from the following locations:


     
  
  Huntington Village: Near the Art museum in Huntington's Hecksher Park.
or
(  )    Various locations in the area as we work on new presentation material.
or
(  )     the intersection of Main St & New York Ave (Rte 110) in Huntington Village. On the North sidewalk of Main St. near the Loft store.
or
(  ?    Nassau County's East Meadow Eisenhower Park

   What we'd see  NEXT TIME if it is clear:  

ALL 4 PLANETS IN ONE EVENING! WOW! COME EARLY if you want to see crescent Venus!  We would be looking at the bright white Planet Venus in the West (now just 1 fist or 10° above 9 on our horizon clock *) (Venus is descending and coming between Earth and the Sun in its orbit, so we're seeing its Moon-like "PHASES" now! Hey, THIS is a RARE sight, visible only a couple of weeks every 1 1/2 years! ).  We'll also see the white planet Jupiter in the south (5 fists above 7). and the planet Saturn and its rings, and the red planet Mars! The planets look like bright stars but they do not twinkle.

* (using our "clock & fist" measurement system. 12:00 means looking North; 6 means South.)
Measure an object's height above the horizon by making a fist with your outstretched arm. Use your fist as a 'ruler'. 1 fist up = 10 degrees, 2 = 20... etc. (9 = overhead.)
*You will learn how to use these 'clock & fist' measurements next time when we teach how to measure the sky, as part of the Living Planetarium program.

 We often look at the Moon; (when it's up)  Click here for current Moon Phase.
YOU DO NOT NEED TO BRING YOUR OWN EQUIPMENT. If you have a telescope, you're welcome to bring it to the program, if you want.  We can show you how to use it or repair it.
----------------------------
* * EVEN IF YOU CAN’T COME TO WATCH TONIGHT, * *
What you would be able to see, from home tonight, yourself:
The planet Venus (looks like a very bright white star) in west sky (1 fist above a flat horizon, at 9 on our horizon 'clock') for 1 hour after sunset.
The bright white planet Jupiter in the south (4 fists up above 7 on our horizon clock.).
The faint planet Saturn is visible but not easy to find. It is about 5 fists above 4 on our horizon clock. We will show you how the next time you're here!
And the very bright pink planet Mars low in the southeast (3 fists up above 5 on our horizon clock).

Check THIS site often, to see when & where we'll be observing again.  In the fall we start earlier, around 7:15pm., (except even earlier if there is something happening in the sky earlier.) But you can come anytime before 10:30 pm.

"HELP WANTED":  Many of our international visitors speak other languages, so WE NEED volunteer foreign language translators.  Some of our visitors have hearing impairments -  so WE NEED volunteer ASL sign language interpreters.  We intend to be inclusive to all. And you COULD get extra credit in school for providing this PUBLIC SERVICE! If you live very close to the park, we could text message you when we need your help!
  And students, in September, when we observe, tell your teachers what you saw and maybe you can get EXTRA CREDIT for it! [give a talk on astronomy, make a picture for art or science class; write poetry/rap about it for writing or music class... etc!]  


  It's hard to plan stargazing when the weather has been so strangely unpredictable, because of the ongoing climate crisis. This unusually intense weather is caused by strong northwest winds powered by extra energy created by burning fossil "fuels", bringing down cold air from Canada, colliding with extremely warm moist air from the South, also powered by extra energy.  This was the rainiest year in Wilmington, Delaware's history!  Last month a tornado touched down in College Point in Queens. This is not normal for LI. Last May's extra energy caused FIFTEEN MINUTES of high winds, hail, thunderstorms and heavy rain, and 4 tornadoes hit the region. Winds brought down hundreds of trees, killing 2 people, and knocked out power to thousands for days. As the thunderstorms moved out over the ocean, they created 'mini-tsunamis' that raised the sea level by 12" for several hours!  Back in early March, that rain/snow/windstorm was described by forecasters with a new word in their vocabulary - 'BOMBCYCLONE' . The week-long power outages in Westchester, Hurricane Maria's devastation of Puerto Rico, and the displacement of thousands of American citizens there, with very little government aid, was 'unforgivable'. Can't we SEE this is climate change? Hurricane Harvey's flooding and devastation in Texas is more proof of this. Our hearts go out to the people in Puerto Rico, many of whom STILL have no power, and their families and friends here. And Irma was the next storm to be intensified by burning fossil 'fuels'.
    [NOTE: I put quotes around the word 'fuels', because we should NOT be engaging in the risky habit of using fossils as fuels. I don't casually use the phrase 'fossil fuels' , because they are just FOSSIL REMAINS of ancient life here on Earth. They belong in the ground, where future scientists can find them and study the Earth's early life forms. Changing our vocabulary is a good first step in fighting the risky acceptance of fossils as 'fuels'. I was inspired to make this change after watching a TV program on slavery. The narrater made it clear that they don't use the word 'slaves' anymore, because these people were FREE PEOPLE before they were taken as 'slaves'. They now use the correct phrase 'enslaved people'.]
    Many people who do not realize that this is the climate crisis are frustrated with the frequently hot, muggy, stormy weather. This is not normal even for September. It is because huge storms are being overloaded with extra atmospheric energy from burning fossil materials (the 'greenhouse effect'). These are powerfully pulling down Canadian cold air, and pulling up abnormal amounts of very hot air, from the far South, causing all the wildfires in the western states, floods in Pennsylvania's Hershey Park last month and in Florida and Georgia, and Delaware! This is what will power this week's Category 5 typhoon over Japan, and last week's 14 tornadoes in Wisconsin (where tornadoes are unheard of), and the Category 4 hurricane in Hawaii, intensified last year's tropical storm IRMA into a Category 5 hurricane, wrecking the Carribbean islands and slamming Florida. Global warming caused all that flooding in desert-dry Arizona, and the huge wildfires in California that have killed several people and destroyed whole residential communities and closed parts of Yosemite National Park. Because of this, forecasters are saying some days will have heavy rain and powerful winds. Other days will be unseasonably chilly for this time of year. (Last October 'succeeded' in making its way into the record books as the warmest October EVER. And last year's February now goes into the record books as the warmest February in history.) That February's unusual warmth started the flowers blooming way too early, only to suffer freeze damage immediately afterwards. This year 2018 is the 4th warmest year on record. And last July was the chilliest July in many years. This whole mess is a major warning signal of the climate crisis.
The Living Planetarium supports AND SALUTES the work of everyone to use science to save our planet from CLIMATE CHANGE. It caused deadly mudslides in California, it turned what would have been a light 2 inch snowfall event here into a blizzard early last winter, and made it snow in Florida, and it changed smaller tropical storms last fall into Category 5 hurricanes like Irma and Harvey and Maria. Watch news coverage of storm damage everywhere, and outdoor climate protests at times in Washington, DC and elsewhere worldwide. Click "ALL AROUND THE WORLD" to read about Jan. 2018's: native peoples' massive protest in Wash. state.

But now YOU can do something about it! And YOU can help!  Click and  Join our 2 Climate Change projects:
and an EDUCATION 'on-location' EXHIBIT PROJECT:  https://www.facebook.com/Label-extreme-weather-events-as-climate-Change-996973760365244/

*The month of May last year was the coldest May since 2008. We saw wilder temperature swings than usual.  (June 29, 2016 was the FIRST TIME the high-altitude northern hemisphere Jet Stream actually crossed over the equator and mixed with the southern Jet Stream. Click to read about it:  ( Scientists are calling this a "Weather Emergency".)  Wildfires. Floods. Long hot spells. Category 5 hurricanes. A cold start to the summer of 2017.This is Climate Change, the popular phrase for ACD (Anthropomorphic Climate Disaster); 'Anthropo' means 'human' and 'morphic' means 'shaped-by'. That's climate disaster; too much heat energy trapped by excess carbon dioxide in our atmosphere, caused by humans burning fossil materials as 'fuel'. Possible human EXTINCTION (yes, you read that right). July 2016 was the HOTTEST MONTH EVER on record.  Scientists say last winter's storms were intensified by ACD. Visit our related scientific/political ACTION projects helping everyone see that climate change IS happening RIGHT NOW in your own neighborhood. (And we need volunteers to help with this easy project - you COULD get extra credit in SCIENCE for helping us!..and helping the Earth.)

We share the TOMORROWLAND movie Idea and Pope Francis' warningEvery one person can make a difference in the future of our world. We MUST find a solution to CLIMATE CHANGE, so our GRANDCHILDREN can LIVE HERE. But there STILL are 'some elected official(s)' who don't believe climate change even exists. We at The Living Planetarium stand with those many politicians who agree it's a real threat.
We Endorse the Tomorrowland Idea!

 




The Living Planetarium is a service offered by the Long Island Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) HelpLine, (631) 486-4818, offering support and information to people living with OCD, to lead a full life. It is answered 7 days a week by a volunteer with OCD. More at www.ocd.hereweb.com