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Star Gazing in North Jersey

Astronomy Doppler Radar Map

Astronomy Events

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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.



Saturns rings change orientation over the years from 1996 to 2000.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.


Cassini Huygens Mission to Saturn and Titan
Cassini-Huygens Saturn Orbit Insertion (SOI) Countdown

Saturn Observation Campaign

The time Saturn takes to go once around the sun, a Saturn year, is a little more than 29 Earth years. The last time Saturn and it's rings were in the same position was 1972. During the mid to late 1980's, Saturn was very low in the sky and viewing was diminished by the haze of the Earth's atmosphere.

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.

Saturn false color infrared camera/NICMOS image
False color image of Saturn using the Hubble Space Telescope's Near Infrared Camera and Multi-Object Spectrometer (NICMOS), April 23, 1998.


Blue Skys

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: 342 PM EST Mon Feb 19 2018
  Cloudy. Rain with drizzle likely this evening, then  patchy drizzle after midnight. Patchy fog this evening, then  areas of fog after midnight. Not as cool. Near steady temperature  in the lower 40s. Southwest winds 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain  90 percent.
  Areas of fog in the morning. Mostly cloudy with patchy  drizzle in the morning, then partly sunny in the afternoon. Not  as cool with highs in the mid 60s. Southwest winds 5 to 10 mph.
  Mostly cloudy with patchy drizzle. Areas of fog.  Lows in the lower 50s. Southwest winds around 5 mph.
  Partly sunny. Areas of fog in the morning. A slight  chance of showers in the afternoon. Highs around 70. Temperature  falling into the lower 60s in the afternoon. Southwest winds 5 to  10 mph. Chance of rain 20 percent.
  Cloudy with a 30 percent chance of showers.

North Jersey Area Astronomy Clubs

Rockland Astronomy Club - Rockland, New York
UACNJ Observatory and Educational Center - Jenny Jump State Forest, Warren County, NJ.
New Jersey Astronomical Association Observatory - High Bridge, New Jersey
Morris Museum Astronomical Society - Morristown, New Jersey


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



- Saturn Images are courtesy of the Space Telescope Science Institute, NASA, infrared image: Erich Karkoschka (University of Arizona), seasons images: R.G. French (Wellesley College), J. Cuzzi (NASA/Ames), L. Dones (SwRI), and J. Lissauer (NASA/Ames).


Astronomy Doppler Radar Map
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