For thousands of years people have looked up at night into the void of outer space and gazed at the stars and planets.
In Northern New Jersey there are quite a few of these people as evidenced by the number of amateur astronomy clubs. With a current star chart and a good cloudless night, anyone can begin learning about the universe we live in. A star chart for your area can be found on the Internet or in your local paper. The New York Times publishes a star chart weekly in the Sunday edition that is good for the following week. Binoculars are an excellent next step for beginners who then may move on to a telescope.
In 2002 and 2003, a good subject for observation is Saturn. New Jersey and the rest of the Northern Hemisphere is tilted toward Saturn where it is high above the horizon, buildings and trees. Saturn's light is passing though the least amount of atmosphere creating the perfect conditions for viewing. Last year, Mars, named for the Roman god of war, was prominent in the sky. Now Saturn, the bringer of wisdom, rules the night sky. Saturn has the most moons of any planet with more than twenty and was one of the first objects observed by Galileo through the newly invented telescope in 1610.
To Galileo, Saturn's unusual shape presented a
mystery until another astronomer, Christiaan Huygens, correctly
identified Saturn as a sphere with disc-like rings around it. The space
between the outermost and the inner ring is called the Cassini Division
which was discovered in 1676. The spacecraft Pioneer 11 and Voyager 2
visited Saturn between 1979 and 1981. The Cassini-Huygens
Satellite is on it's way to Saturn and it's moon Titan to begin
orbiting Saturn on July 1, 2004.
This year, the Earth will be the closest to Saturn since 1975. The rings change their tilt because Saturn's axis, like Earth, is tilted at an angle to the sun. The rings in the current position clearly display the Cassini Division. As Saturn orbits the sun, the tilt causes it to have different seasons similar to what happens one Earth. This change is evidenced by the position of the rings. In the time lapse images above, the Hubble Space Telescope recorded this change over a five year period beginning in 1996 and continuing to the year 2000.
This chart shows the predicted sky conditions for the next two days, cloudy or clear for astronomical viewing in Wawayanda State Park in West Milford, New Jersey. Each block represents the hour of day with the day and time below. The white areas represent overcast skies, light blue or indigo colored areas are partially covered skies, dark blue zones are clear skies. The "tran" is the transparency forecast of the atmosphere calculated by the amount of water vapor in the atmosphere. Click on the graphic for more details.
Current Weather at
Morristown, New Jersey
updated: 328 PM EST WED DEC 17 2014
TONIGHTMOSTLY CLOUDY. ISOLATED SPRINKLES AND FLURRIES THIS EVENING. LOWS IN THE LOWER 30S. NORTHWEST WINDS 5 TO 10 MPH.
THURSDAYMOSTLY SUNNY. HIGHS IN THE LOWER 40S. NORTHWEST WINDS 10 TO 15 MPH.
THURSDAY NIGHTPARTLY CLOUDY. LOWS IN THE MID 20S. NORTHWEST WINDS 5 TO 10 MPH.
FRIDAYMOSTLY SUNNY. HIGHS IN THE UPPER 30S. NORTHWEST WINDS 5 TO 10 MPH. GUSTS UP TO 20 MPH IN THE AFTERNOON.
FRIDAY NIGHTMOSTLY CLEAR. LOWS IN THE LOWER 20S. NORTH WINDS
North Jersey Area Astronomy Clubs
Rockland Astronomy Club -
Rockland, New York
Jack Horkheimer Star Gazer International Edition - Seen on PBS stations throughout North America and Internationally via satellite, the world's first and only weekly TV series on naked eye astronomy produced in cooperation with Miami Museum of Science and Space Transit Planetarium.
Lord of the Rings , Richard Tresch Fienberg, Sky and Telescope, February 12, 2002
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