The 'LIVING Planetarium' Project 2018: See the planets Venus, Jupiter, Mars and Saturn, and the Space Station on nights with CLEAR skies.

Saturday, stardate July 14, 2018: -  - We will not be observing tonight at 9:45pm.
We'll see the 4 planets AGAIN next time we observe.
Tuesday night we saw four planets! We watched the planet Venus as it set over the harbor, and we observed the planet Jupiter and its 4 largest moons, planet Saturn with a fantastic view of its rings and finally the planet Mars for the first time this year!
We found 2 used telescopes for sale last week: both are 60mm refractors (not the best; we prefer larger reflector telescopes); one is at SAVERS thrift shop on Larkfied Rd. in Comack, the other is at UNIQUE thrift shop on Old Country Rd. in Westbury. Both have no eyepieces; both have altazimuth mounts (we prefer equatorial mounts). Call them to see if they still are there.
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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. We call this the Living Planetarium because we look at real objects in the real sky. 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.
Now that school is out for the summer, we will set up stargazing any day of the week, but only on CLEAR evenings. 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 9:15 - 10:30pm.  Sometimes we use another location (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. ( On a recent Saturday night, the sky was clear 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 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 wayMany evenings,  you can 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. Complete explanation here:
(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,
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 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.  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! )

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!

o On the second weekend in August (next month), the Perseid Meteor Shower is the big show this year because there will be no moonlight to wipe it out. 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'.
o Currently, on early evenings in July 2018 we are following the planets Venus and Jupiter. Then we will turn the telescope to view the planet Saturn and its rings. Lastly we will see the red planet Mars come into view before we end our evening around 11pm!.
o We were featured in Newsday's 2018 Summer Fun Book as a wonderful family activity, and sometime this summer we may be interviewed by FiOS1 for a "Push/Pause" TV story, or a CableVision story, and also a print media story!
o The next Solar Eclipse visible from the US will be in 6 years, with totality passing right over Niagara Falls, on April 10, 2024. (Sounds like a long way off, but waiting for this 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 2024.
How to make a projection box to view the eclipse 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. ]
  Huntington Village: Near the Art museum in Huntington's Hecksher Park.
(  )    Various locations in the area as we work on new presentation material.
(  )     the intersection of Main St & New York Ave (Rte 110) in Huntington Village tonight. On the North sidewalk of Main St. near the Loft store.
(  ?    Nassau County's East Meadow Eisenhower Park

   What we'd see  TONIGHT if we had planned to observe:  

We would be looking at the bright white Planet Venus in the West (3 fists above 9 on our horizon clock * (which is rising and behind the Sun in its orbit), the white planet Jupiter in the southeast (4 fists above 5). and later on we'd see the planet Saturn and its rings, and the red planet Mars! The planets look like 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.
What you would be able to see, from home tonight, yourself:
The planet Venus (looks like a very bright white star) in west sky for 2 hours after sunset.
The bright white planet Jupiter in the south (5 fists up above 6 on our horizon clock.).
The faint planet Saturn is visible but not easy to find. It is about 5 fists above 5 on our horizon clock. We will show you how the next time you're here!
And around 11pm you see the bright pink planet Mars low in the southeast (2 fists up above 4 on our horizon clock).

Check THIS site often, to see when & where we'll be observing again.  In the summer we start later, around 9:30pm., (except 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 this current cold air that doesn't belong here in June, colliding with extremely warm moist air from the South, also powered by extra energy.  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.  Many people who do not realize that this is the climate crisis are frustrated with the frequently 'April-like'  chilly weather. This is not normal for summer. 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 Florida and Georgia, and Delaware! This is what 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 destroyed whole residential communities. 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 month now goes into the record books as the warmest February in history.) Last February's unusual warmth started the flowers blooming way too early, only to suffer freeze damage immediately afterwards. 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 this 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:

*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