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AAA OBSERVING AT CARL SCHURZ PARK


The Amateur Astronomers Association of New York hosts observing sessions, free and open to the public, one Friday night each month from April through October at Carl Schurz Park in Manhattan. Carl Schurz Park is located along East End Avenue at the end of East 86th Street. The park has a lovely view of a lot of sky above the East River, Roosevelt Island, Queens, and the Queensborough and Triborough bridges.

We meet on the park esplanade (John Finley Walk), overlooking the East River. The 86th Street entrance to the park is the closest to where we set up, though that entrance requires climbing stairs to reach the esplanade. One may enter the park at many other points, including 87th or 88th streets, thereby avoiding the stairs.

We encourage anyone wishing to bring a telescope or binoculars to do so, but it is not required. You are welcome to look through ours.

Contact Bruce Kamiat, 212-923-7021, for more information about the Carl Schurz Park sessions.

Please note that solar observing now takes place on Sunday afternoons at Conservatory Water in Central Park. We also have solar observing sessions in the Bronx on Saturday mornings.

Contact Tom Haeberle for more information about the Central Park solar observing sessions or Joseph Martinez for the Bronx solar observing sessions.

 

2014 Observing Dates
Friday Nights

(Canceled if cloudy)

See below for times of sunset
and starting times of these events
All times on this schedule are Eastern Daylight Time

 

The weather forecasts for the evening of April 11 are all for clouds and rain.
The April 11 Carl Schurz Park observing session is canceled.
Maybe we'll have better luck next time.

April 11 — Starting at 8:30 p.m.

The Sun sets at 7:31 p.m.

The waxing gibbous Moon will be full on the night of the 14th to 15th.

Mars is just past its April 8 opposition, so it is big and bright in the sky (about -1.5 magnitude). That is as bright as Sirius, the brightest star in Earth’s nighttime sky. Mars appears bigger and brighter than it has since 2007. The red planet rises at 6:59 p.m., before sunset. Saturn and Jupiter are also in the evening sky, with Saturn rising at 9:51 p.m. and Jupiter still high in the west.

The Big Dipper and Leo are almost directly overhead. Bright Arcturus is to their east and bright Capella to their west.

 

 

May 9 — Starting at 8:30 p.m.

The Sun sets at 8:00 p.m.

The waxing gibbous Moon will be full on the night of the 14th to 15th.

Mars is still bright in the sky (about -1 magnitude), and rises at 4:31 p.m. By sunset, Mars is high overhead, not far from the Moon on the sky. Saturn and Jupiter are also in the evening sky. Saturn is one night short of opposition and rises at 7:51 p.m., just before sunset.

The Big Dipper and Arcturus are also high overhead.

May 10 is International Astronomy Day.

 

 

June 13 — Starting at 9:00 p.m. (Note time change.)

The Sun sets at 8:28 p.m.

The waning gibbous Moon is one night past full and rises at 8:58 p.m.

Mars is still bright in the sky (about -0.26 magnitude) and is high overhead by sunset. Saturn and Jupiter are also in the evening sky, with Saturn high in the southeast by sunset. Jupiter is already low in the west and will sink behind the buildings of Manhattan’s East Side.

The Summer Triangle of Vega, Deneb, and Altair is rising in the east. The Big Dipper and Arcturus are high overhead.

 

 

July 11 — Starting at 8:30 p.m.

The Sun sets at 8:28 p.m.

The Moon is full this night and rises at 7:38 p.m.

We will cut the full Moon’s intense light with a filter, to observe it telescopically without being blinded by the glare. Full Moon is the best time to see the bright raylike patterns that cross the Moon’s surface. Those radiating lines surrounding young craters are made up of the debris that was hurled out of the craters by the explosive impacts that formed them.

Mars has dimmed to +0.17 magnitude and has moved to the low southwestern evening sky. Mars has been near the bright star Spica on the sky all through this apparition, but it now appears extremely close to Spica. Mars sets at 12:34 a.m. It will disappear behind the East Side buildings, as viewed from Carl Schurz Park, sometime before that. Saturn is high in the south as we begin our session, moving into the southwestern sky. Two of the largest and brightest asteroids, Ceres and Vesta, appear less than one degree apart, having been closest together on the sky on July 4.

Bright Arcturus and Vega are high overhead; as the Summer Triangle of Vega, Deneb, and Altair reaches the zenith a little after midnight. Pegasus rises in the east.

 

 

August 1 — Starting at 8:30 p.m.
(Note: all the other sessions are on the second Friday of the month; this one is on the first.)

The Sun sets at 8:11 p.m.

The Moon is a waxing crescent, reaching first quarter on the night of August 3 to 4. It is already low in the southwest as the sky grows dark, as are Mars and Saturn.

Mars has dimmed to +0.4 magnitude. The Moon, Mars, and Saturn are nicely lined up and close together, but will sink behind the buildings early in the evening.

Bright Arcturus and Vega are high overhead; as the Summer Triangle of Vega, Deneb, and Altair reaches the zenith about 11 p.m. Pegasus rises in the east, and climbs entirely above the horizon by 10 p.m.—bringing with it Andromeda and its Great Galaxy, M31. This night is better for stars, star clusters, and other deep-sky objects than for the Moon and the planets.

 

 

September 12 — Starting at 8:30 p.m.

The Sun sets at 7:10 p.m.

The waning gibbous Moon is four nights past full. It will reach last quarter on the night of September 15. It rises at 9:34 p.m. This should be a good night for lunar observing, once the Moon climbs a little higher into the sky.

Mars and Saturn are low in the southwest and will disappear from our view behind the buildings.

The Summer Triangle of Vega, Deneb, and Altair reaches the zenith about 9 p.m. Pegasus, Andromeda, Cassiopeia, and Perseus are among the constellations rising in the east this evening. As it was last month, this night is better for stars, star clusters, and other deep-sky objects than for the planets.

 

 

October 10 — Starting at 8:30 p.m.

The Sun sets at 6:23 p.m.

The waning gibbous Moon is three nights past full. It will reach last quarter on the night of October 15. It rises at 8:08 p.m. This should be a good night for lunar observing.

No bright planets are visible to us in the evening sky from Carl Schurz Park. Mars sets at 9:21; but it is already very low in the southwest by the time the sky gets dark, and is hidden behind the buildings. We may try to spot the tiny blue-green disk of Uranus, which was at opposition in Pisces on October 7, at 5.7 magnitude.

The Summer Triangle of Vega, Deneb, and Altair is almost directly overhead as we begin this session. Pegasus, Andromeda, and Cassiopeia are very high in the eastern sky as we begin, and almost directly overhead by 10. Perseus and Auriga are rising in the northeast.

 

 

 

 


Directions:

       Carl Schurz Park is located at the end of East 86th Street in Manhattan (X on the map below).

Subway:

    • Take the Lexington Avenue express (4 or 5) or local (6) to 86th Street. Walk east or take the M86 crosstown bus to York Avenue. The park is one block farther east.
    • Take the Broadway local (1 or 9), Sixth Avenue local (B), or Eighth Avenue local (C) to 86th Street. Take the M86 crosstown bus to York Avenue. The park is one block farther east).

Bus:

    • Crosstown: The M86 runs along 86th Street to York Avenue. Walk one block farther east to East End Avenue. The M79 runs on 81st Street on the West Side and 79th Street on the East Side. Take it to 80th Street and East End Avenue and walk uptown.
    • Up or downtown: Buses run uptown along First (M15), Third (M101, M102, and M103), and Madison (M1, M2, M3, and M4) avenues. Go to 86th Street and walk or take the M86 crosstown east, as above. Buses run downtown along Second (M15), Lexington (M101, M102, and M103), and Fifth (M1, M2, M3, and M4) avenues. Go to 86th Street and walk or take the M86 crosstown east, as above.

    

Map of Carl Schurz Park observing site