Barnard-Seyfert Astronomical Society

BSAS Meetings through December 2016

Due to renovations at the Cumberland Valley Girl Scout Council Building, meetings of BSAS through the end of the year will be held in the Fellowship Hall at Glendale United Methodist Church. Click here for directions.

August 2016: Is there a super-Earth in the Solar System out beyond Neptune?

When the advent of large telescopes brought us the discoveries of Uranus and then Neptune, they also brought the great hope of a Solar System even richer in terms of large, massive worlds. While the asteroid belt and the Kuiper belt were each found to possess a large number of substantial icy-and-rocky worlds, none of them approached even Earth in size or mass, much less the true giant worlds. Then, the discovery of Sedna in 2003 turned out to be even more groundbreaking than astronomers realized.

July 2016: Venus and Jupiter prepare for their close-up this August

As Earth speeds along in its annual journey around the Sun, it consistently overtakes the slower-orbiting outer planets, while the inner worlds catch up to and pass Earth periodically. Sometime after an outer world—particularly a slow-moving gas giant—gets passed by Earth, it appears to migrate closer and closer to the Sun, eventually appearing to slip behind it from our perspective. If you've been watching Jupiter this year, it's been doing exactly that, moving consistently from east to west and closer to the Sun ever since May 9th.