9:00pm – 11pm

Wesleyan commencement.
This is Wesleyan’s Commencement weekend, so parking lots may be more crowded than usual, and parking rules are likely to be enforced. Please see parking instructions here.

Moon night  (Van Vleck crater), Jupiter, and Deep Sky observing.

**Update**: There will be a visible flyover of the International Space Station, with a maximum altitude of 50 degrees at 9:08pm in the NNW. It will be very bright at magnitude -2.8, and moving from WSW to NE.

The moon will be only at an altitude of 12 degrees by 9:00pm. The libration (tilt of that edge of the moon towards the Earth) is reasonable, but it may be difficult to see Van Vleck crater with this young of a moon, 2.18 days old. This altitude is also quite low for observation, the “seeing” will be poor because of viewing through a thick layer of Earth’s atmosphere, and there will be only a short window of opportunity to view the crater because the moon will be setting. The location of Van Vleck crater is shown below.

Graphic courtesy of Starry Night (R) Orion Special Edition, Version: 6.2.3 kcEW, Imaginova (R) Corp.

Jupiter, however, is another story. It will be well placed for observation, 43 degrees high at 10pm. The position of it’s four largest moons at that time is shown here. The shadow of Io will be visible on the planet until 10:30pm, and Europa actually exits the shadow of Jupiter and becomes visible at 10:06pm.

Graphic courtesy of Starry Night (R) Orion Special Edition, Version: 6.2.3 kcEW, Imaginova (R) Corp.

Only a few degrees away from Jupiter is the double star Gamma Virginis (Porrima). It’s a true binary star where motion is easily visible over the span of a human lifetime.

Also in the immediate area is the Virgo Cluster of galaxies. The surface brightness (brightness per unit area) of galaxies is, in general, quite low, making them a challenge to view from Middletown’s light-polluted skies. If the background sky is brighter than the s.b. of the galaxy, it won’t be visible. Nevertheless, some brighter cluster members can be observed.