Astronomy Aroostook County

Hello and welcome back to a new year of classes and adventures at the University of Maine at Presque Isle. Northern Maine is a great place to live and, if you like astronomy, it is a great place to be.  Northern Maine has rich dark skies full of stars and celestial events.

The University Times runs this ongoing series of articles about astronomy throughout the year.  The topics vary from edition to edition and will contain news related to astronomy and information about various sky events.  Although I have some articles in mind, I would like your input on possible articles.  If you have any questions or would like to suggest an article, please feel free to email me at

Here are a couple of places you can go to find more information about astronomy in Aroostook County.

The Aroostook County Astronomy Club provides educational opportunities and occasional observing nights throughout the year.  Joining the local astronomy club is easy: just join their Facebook group “Aroostook County Astronomy Club.”  By joining this page, you will be able to receive interesting articles about astronomy, be notified of upcoming club events, receive information about celestial events and receive notifications about possible northern lights.

The Maine Solar System Model was dedicated in 2003.  At that time, it was the largest to scale solar system model on Earth.  Now it is the second largest.  One mile is equal to 93,000,000 miles in this 40+ miles model.  At this scale, the Earth is located near Percy’s Auto Sales one mile south of UMPI’s campus on Route 1.  For more information about the Maine Solar System Model, go to

The Francis Malcolm Science Center, located in Easton, Maine, has a planetarium and hosts occasional planetarium shows and observing nights. The science center is a great place to visit and, when possible, their shows will be listed here and on the astronomy club’s Facebook page.  For more information about the science center go to

Happy stargazing.




All of the times and events listed below are from  You may register at this site and load your location (anywhere in the world) to be able to get event information and times.  The University of Maine at Presque Isle is located at 68d00m7.8s west longitude and 46d40m45.6s north latitude.


The International Space Station is visible as follows:

Morning – Until Sept. 16.

Evening – Sept. 18 to Oct. 12.

Morning – Oct. 23 to Nov. 12 .


To get a free sky chart, go to


Sun and Planet Visibility


06:15 Sunrise .

18:34 Sunset

18:48 – 19:00 Mercury.

18:36 – 18:54 Venus.

Not visible Mars.

18:42 – 21:54 Jupiter.

19:00 – 23:48 Saturn.



06:42 Sunrise.

17:54 Sunset.

18:24 – 18:30 Mercury.

17:54 – 18:24 Venus.

05:36 – 06:12 Mars.

18:06 – 20:42 Jupiter.

18:24 – 22:30 Saturn .


09/12 @ 05:00 ISS passes 1.2 degrees from Alnilam (Epsilon Orion).

09/13 @ 04:11 ISS passes 0.5 degrees from Elmath/Al Nath (Beta Taurus).

09/13 @ 09:01 Mercury 0.3 degrees from Venus.

09/13 @ 09:16 Moon at apogee – farthest from the Earth (252,514.6 miles/406,382.8 km).

09/14 @ 00:32 Full moon.

09/21 @ 22:40 Last quarter moon.

09/23 @ 03:50 September Equinox – Fall begins in the northern hemisphere.

09:24 @ 19:58 ISS passes Arcturus (Alpha Bootes).

09/26 @ 06:00 Equilux – Equal day and night in Presque Isle, ME.
09/27 @ 22:17 Moon at perigee – closest to the Earth (222,324.0 miles/357,795.8 km).

09/28 @ 05:42 Comet 13P Olbers at perihelion – closest to the sun = Mag 7.2.

09/28 @ 14:26 New moon.

10/03 @ 02:12 Mercury at aphelion – farthest from the sun (43,382,500 miles/69,817.300 km).
10/05 @ 12:47 First quarter moon.

10/06 @ 19:00 Draconid Meteor Shower – 6 meteors/hr.

10/07 @ 19:00 Draconid Meteor Shower – 8.8 meteors/hr.

10/07 @ 21:08 Winter begins on Mars’ northern hemisphere.

10/08 @ 19:00 Draconid Meteor Shower – 11 meteors/hr.

10/09 @ 02:00 Draconid Meteor Shower Maximum – 12.4 meteors/hr.

10/09 @ 19:00 Draconid Meteor Shower – 10.4 meteors/hr.

10/10 @ 14:18 Moon at apogee – farthest from the Earth – (252,228.4 miles/405,922.2 km).

10/10 @ 19:00 Draconid Meteor Shower – 7.8 meteors/hr.

10/11 @ 19:00 Draconid Meteor Shower – 5.3 meteors/hr.

10/13 @ 17:07 Full moon.

10/20 @ 00:00 Mercury greatest elongation = 24.6 degrees east – visible in the evening sky.

10/20 @ 05:00 Orionid meteor shower – 6.3 meteors/hr.

10/21 @ 05:00 Orionid meteor shower – 8.8 meteors/hr.

10/21 @ 08:39 Last quarter moon.

10/22 @ 05:00 Orionid meteor shower – 10.5 meteors/hr.

10/22 @ 10:00 Orionid meteor shower – 10.6 meteors/hr.

10/23 @ 05:00 Orionid meteor shower – 9.8 meteors/hr.

10/24 @ 05:00 Orionid meteor shower – 7.4 meteors/hr.

10/25 @ 05:00 Orionid meteor shower – 5.2 meteors/hr.

10/25 @ 06:03 ISS passes 0.9 degrees from the moon.

10/25 @ 08:06 Mercury at half phase.

10/26 @ 06:31 Moon at perigee – closest to the Earth (224,498.9 miles/361,295.9 km).
10/27 @ 06:01 ISS passes 0.4 degrees from Betelgeuse (Alpha Orion).

10/27 @ 23:38 New moon.

10/28 @ 04:02 Uranus at opposition – directly behind the Earth.

10/31 Mercury 2.5 degrees from Venus.

Going to Mars

NASA recently announced that it is ready to launch a mission to Mars.

According to an article in the “National Conspirator,” NASA’s director of public information, Doug Blastoff, stated the space agency was hoping to launch the mission quietly and then alert the public after the astronauts reached space.  When asked why, he just replied, “Wouldn’t  you?”

The planned mission would be launched on board the new Galaxy Class Space Shuttle Enterprise.  Mr. Blastoff felt this new class of space shuttle will “boldly take this mission where no man has gone before.” Continue reading “Going to Mars”

It’s Jupiter! It’s Saturn! It’s a Planet Head?

What do you get when you combine a fundraiser for cancer assistance with paint and shower caps or shaved heads?  You get Planet Head Day, of course!

What is Planet Head Day?  It is an opportunity to help raise funds that are used to assist local cancer patients.  Planet Head Day is one of two annual fundraisers held by the local nonprofit group “Caring Area Neighbors for Cancer Education and Recovery – C.A.N.C.E.R.” Continue reading “It’s Jupiter! It’s Saturn! It’s a Planet Head?”

Happy New Year from Ultima Thule

On Jan. 1, 2019, NASA’s New Horizons space probe will pass by Ultima Thule.  Ultima Thule may sound like a robot from the Transformers movies, but in actuality, it is a Kuiper Belt asteroid orbiting the sun at a distance of four billion miles.  What makes Ultima Thule so special is that it is the second member of the Kuiper Belt (the solar system’s second asteroid belt) to be visited by the New Horizons space probe.  The first was the dwarf planet Pluto. Continue reading “Happy New Year from Ultima Thule”

The Martians Are Coming!!!

It happened on Sunday, Oct. 30, 1938 – 80 years ago.  The Martians arrived and war broke out around the world.  Well sort of….

On the night of Oct. 30, 1938, the Mercury Radio Theatre aired a performance of H. G. Wells’ 1896 “The War of the Worlds.”  The radio play was performed so well that some people panicked, ran from their houses and warned their neighbors of the impending invasion.  Stories also provide information of water towers being shot at in New Jersey and a woman in Pittsburgh wanting to take poison instead of being killed by aliens.     Continue reading “The Martians Are Coming!!!”

Astronomy in Aroostook County

     Hello everyone and welcome to or back to the University of Maine at Presque Isle.  If you are interested in astronomy, we have several treats for you in and around the Presque Isle area.

     The University Times runs this ongoing series of articles about astronomy.  The topics vary from edition to edition and will contain news related to astronomy.  Although I have some articles in mind, I would like your input on possible articles.  If you have any questions or would like to suggest an article, please feel free to email me at:       Continue reading “Astronomy in Aroostook County”

Summer 2018

     The summer of 2018 will be a rather boring summer for astronomical events.  Perhaps the biggest event of the summer will be the Perseid meteor shower.  This year’s shower will last from August 8 to August 17.  The moon will be approaching or just past new moon throughout the meteor shower, so moonlight blocking out dimmer meteors will not be an issue.  Warm August weather should make it comfortable to sit outside or lie down on a blanket and look toward the northeast.  At its peak, the Perseids will produce and average of a meteor per minute.  The best time to view the meteors is after midnight.  Below is a listing of the days of the shower and the number of meteors that may be expected on that date. Continue reading “Summer 2018”

The Next Vacation Spot

     All of this cold weather has me thinking about taking a vacation.  I really want to head to some place warm and with no snow outside the window.  A place were all my worries would be hundreds of miles away.  If you feel like this too, I know where we can go.  Let’s start making our plans to go to the Aurora Station.

     Orion Span founder and CEO Frank Bunger unveiled the Aurora Station concept on April 5 at the Space 2.0 Summit in San Jose, Calif.  What is the Aurora Station?  It is a new hotel that is expected to be the premier destination for space tourists.  The Aurora Station will be launched into low Earth orbit in late 2021.  The reservation counter is now open for rooms beginning in 2022.  Continue reading “The Next Vacation Spot”