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

Mon. Dec. 10:   Hi from Warren & Deb!'s very cold - we will not be observing in Northport tonight, depending on wind and temperature. (Direction maps below) Call 631-664-0515 for info.
  And if it's cloudy, but then if it clears early enough to observe, it WILL be posted here, so check back again. 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 (If "we don't know yet if we will" appears above, please refresh the page, as that may be outdated.)
OBSERVATION NEWS: 3 weeks ago (last Wed. morning, actually; 1:45 am) we were outside for a few minutes, sky was very clear and Debbee saw a brilliant fireball! It went from the southwest, about 45 degrees up, to the southeast, about 35 degrees up, very slowly, took about 20 seconds, was white with a light blue edge, and it was larger than any naked-eye observation of a planet. It was almost as bright as the last-quarter Moon that was up in the east! We filed a report with a meteor watch group.

  Scheduling note: The location we observe at, in Northport Village, is very quiet on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday evenings. Very few people are outside in the park those nights, so The Living Planetarium will present programs MOSTLY on MILD TEMPERATURE evenings with CLEAR SKIES on Thursdays, Fridays, and/or Saturday evenings. We will not observe on windy or cold evenings, or if very few people are outside. However, if Monday is a school holiday any week, we may also do it that Sunday night. Or if there is an interesting astronomical event  like a newly-seen comet, or a special evening event in the Village any OTHER day, we may present a special program that evening. Mars is the only planet currently visible. It is small even in a telescope/ Mars will remain in the evening sky for months after this.]

Most of the visible Planets have left our skies. For the week of Dec. 10-16, if the weather gets warmer, we will be watching a comet (comet Wirtanen) and the Moon next time we observe.

Earth as seen from Solar Probe; Sept. 2018.
No, WE did not take this picture. This is how the Earth looks from 27 million miles away, taken by the Solar Probe in Sept. 2018!

AFFORDABLE USED TELESCOPES spotted FOR SALE! (, 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!

December 10: Telescope Now for sale! There is a fairly good quality 60mm refractor telescope now for sale at Island Thrift on Rte 110 in Huntington Station. The price is $20. It has an equatorial mount like the ones we use, that makes it very easy to follow an object as the Earth rotates. Not many refractors have equatorial mounts; usually they are on cheap altazimuth mounts which only move up-and-down, and left-to-right. Altazimuth mounts  are not easy to follow sky objects with. That's why we are listing this one.  However, we use reflector telescopes instead of refractors, because they are easier to work with, and give brighter images. Hurry, this one is a goodie and will quickly be someone else's holiday gift!

   Warren Barlowe's and Debbee Decordova's "The Living Planetarium" project is a FREE opportunity for you and your family and friends to look through powerful reflector 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 OUTDOORS 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 6:15  - 9:30pm.  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.
(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' the summer of 2016 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! )

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 winterl we may be interviewed by FiOS1 for a "Push/Pause" TV story, or a CableVision story, and also a print media story!

o Currently, on evenings in December 2018 we are following the Moon, a comet (Comet Wirtanen) and Mars. At other times of the year, we will view the planet Saturn and its rings, Venus's phases, and Jupiter's moons.
  .  We will see the International Space Station go by on some clear evenings!
  /    THIS WEEK (Thursday night, Dec. 13 - Fri. Dec. 14), 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.
From the International Meteor Assosciation" (  )
Geminids Active from December 4th to December 17th, 2018

The Geminids are usually the strongest meteor shower of the year and meteor enthusiasts are certain to circle December 13 and 14 on their calendars. This is the one major shower that provides good activity prior to midnight as the constellation of Gemini is well placed from 22:00 onward. The Geminids are often bright and intensely colored. Due to their medium-slow velocity, persistent trains are not usually seen. These meteors are also seen in the southern hemisphere, but only during the middle of the night and at a reduced rate.

Radiant: 07:28 +32.2° - ZHR: 150 - Velocity: 22 miles/sec (medium - 35km/sec) - Parent Object: 3200 Phaethon (asteroid)"

     CORRECTION: The next Total Lunar Eclipse will be this winter,  on Sunday evening, January 20, 2019 from 10:30pm-1:50am (NOT Sat. Jan. 19 as previously posted.)   The Living Planetarium PROBABLY will watch this! Visible from North and South America, Europe, Africa. As explained in "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,_2023#/media/File:SE2023Oct14A.png
  o  The next Total Solar Eclipse visible from the US will be in 5 1/2 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 2011 seemed like it took forever also, but it's amazing how fast 5 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 Saturn  and its rings, ( with a powerful telescope you can see Saturn's 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. ] See maps below:

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

  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. On the North sidewalk of Main St. near the Loft store.
(  ?    Nassau County's East Meadow Eisenhower Park

Maps: Where to find us when we are in Northport:
  What we'd see  NEXT TIME if it is clear:  

3 OBJECTS IN ONE EVENING! The Moon, a comet and Mars! WOW!  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.
What you would be able to see, from home tonight, yourself:
The crescent Moon.
WOW!! The faint comet Wirtanen is visible but not easy to find. It is about 8 fists above 5 on our horizon clock. We will show you how the next time you're here! It is far below the star cluster Pleides (the 7 sisters), and is moving up (North), and on about Dec. 16 it will pass to the left of that beautiful star cluster, and should be an incredible sight in binoculars! Best time to look for it is around 10 pm when it is almost overhead. For a map to find it, see the last comet in the list at
And the very bright pink planet Mars in the south (4 fists up above 6 on our horizon clock).

Check THIS site often, to see when & where we'll be observing again.  In the winter we start earlier, around 6:00pm., (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, 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. Early November's 'surprise' 6" snowfall was very strange for mid-November. Last summer we had 4 tornadoes in the Metro NY area, one in Rankonkoma! This was the rainiest year in Wilmington, N. Carolina's history!  6 months ago 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 they 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'.   Scientists are now saying that if we don't get our carbon dioxide levels down by 40% in the next 12 years, climate change will be irreversible, and life on Earth is doomed. For the future of our children and grandchildren, we MUST come up with ways to get that message across.
    [NOTE: The very words we choose to use can change peoples' thinking. When I talk about using natural gas, oil and coal as 'fuels', I try not to use the phrase 'fossil fuels' because we should NOT even be THINKING of USING FOSSIL MATERIALS AS "FUEL".  We NOW KNOW that burning these materials releases large amounts of carbon dioxide into Earth's atmosphere, causing the 'greenhouse effect' that traps tremendous amounts of extra solar energy that is changing our weather patterns. Using the phrase 'fossil fuels' can imply to some people that fossil materials are INTENDED to be burned as 'fuels'. 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 dangerous acceptance of the idea of using 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 and FORCED to be used 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 cold, damp, stormy weather. This is not normal even for November. 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 Hurricane Michael. and all the wildfires in the western states, floods in Pennsylvania's Hershey Park and in Florida and Georgia, and Delaware! This is what powered last summer'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 61 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 Washington 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  w....e18