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Astronomy Events – July 2014

June 30, 2014

by yaska77

Summertime! Long days, short warm evenings, is there a better season to enjoy the night? This is the time of year to have friends round for a barbecue during the day, then fire up the chimenea for a little warmth and light and stay outside long into the night, under a blanket of twinkling stars. Perfect!

But what is there for you to see? There’s always something worth craning your necks for in our ever changing night sky, and whether you’re just an occasional Moon watcher or a more avid amateur astronomer, we’ve listed below a little something for everyone in our monthly astronomy guide for July.

Keep watching the skies!

Tuesday 1st July - Now is probably the best time of year to watch out for noctilucent clouds, which sometimes appear low down in the northwest (after sunset) and northeast (just before sunrise)

Noctilucent clouds as captured over Sweden (click to enlarge) – Credit: P-M Hedén

Noctilucent clouds as captured over Sweden (click to enlarge) – Credit: P-M Hedén

These clouds are in the upper atmosphere and are usually too faint to see, becoming visible only when illuminated by sunlight from below the horizon while the lower layers of the atmosphere are in the Earth’s shadow

Friday 4th July - Minor planet Pluto is at opposition in the constellation Sagittarius, and the Earth is also at Aphelion, the furthest point out in it’s orbit from the Sun (at a distance of 152 million kilometres or 94.5 million miles)

1. Planet at aphelion 2. Planet at perihelion 3. Sun

1. Planet at aphelion 2. Planet at perihelion 3. Sun – Source – Pearson Scott Foresman (Wikimedia Commons)

Saturday 5th July - The Moon can be seen at First Quarter phase today, and pays a close visit to Mars and bright star Spica in the constellation Virgo. Look low down to the West after nightfall

Shown above at 21:30 UTC (22:30 BST) the first quarter Moon pays a close visit to Mars and Spica this evening. Looks low to the West after nightfall (click to enlarge) - Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium

Shown above at 21:30 UTC (22:30 BST) the first quarter Moon pays a close visit to Mars and Spica this evening. Look low to the West after nightfall (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium

Monday 7th July - This evening the waxing gibbous Moon lies just below beautiful ring-world Saturn. See if you can spot them together low down towards the West after it’s got dark

Shown above at 22:30 UTC (23:30 BST) on 7th July, see if you can spot the Moon and ringed planet Saturn low towards the West (click to enlarge) - Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium

Shown above at 22:30 UTC (23:30 BST) on 7th July, see if you can spot the Moon and ringed planet Saturn low towards the West (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium

Saturday 12th July - The Full Moon in the sky today is also sometimes known as the Summer Moon, Crane Moon or Rose Moon

And inner planet Mercury is at greatest western elongation, but the long morning twilight in the approach to sunrise means it is not easily seen from more northern latitudes

Sunday 13th July - The near Full Moon is at Perigee today at a distance of 358,260 km (222,612 miles), the closest point of its orbit to the Earth

Wednesday 16th July - To help identify the summer constellations you can see throughout the month, below we’ve provided constellation guides for southern and northern skies in July, shown as seen at 00:00 UTC (01:00 BST) on 16th July

Shown at 00:00 UTC (01:00 BST) on 16th July, both these images are a handy guide for the whole month. This is the view you’ll get looking South (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium

Shown at 00:00 UTC (01:00 BST) on 16th July, both these images are a handy guide for the whole month. This is the view you’ll get looking South (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium

Displaying the night sky midway through the month, this image can help you identify the constellations you’ll see in the northern sky in July (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium

Displaying the night sky midway through the month, this image can help you identify the constellations you’ll see in the northern sky in July (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium

Saturday 19th July - This morning our Moon is seen at Last Quarter phase

Monday 21st July - Strange asterism “the coathanger” can be spotted high up due South around midnight this evening. Clearly visible through binoculars or a small telescope, Brocchi’s Cluster is a beautiful sight, and is easily located midway between the right edges of constellations Vulpecula and Sagitta

Brocchi's Cluster (otherwise known as the Coat-Hanger for obvious reasons!) can be found high up to the South around midnight this evening (click to enlarge) - Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium

Brocchi’s Cluster (otherwise known as “the Coathanger” for obvious reasons!) can be found high up to the South around midnight this evening (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium

We were lucky enough to catch a Perseid meteor flashing near to Brocchi’s Cluster in August 2012.  The easiest way to find it with binoculars is to locate bright star Vega (at the top of the constellation Lyra) and slowly move them diagonally down and to the left

A Perseid meteor flashes past Brocchi's Cluster in August 2012 (the upside down coat hanger!) early on 11th August 2012 (click to enlarge) - Credit: Sky-Watching/A.Welbourn

A Perseid meteor flashes past Brocchi’s Cluster (the upside down coat hanger!) early on 11th August 2012 (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/A.Welbourn

This cluster sits well within the band of the Milky Way, which you should also be able to see crossing the night sky (if your skies are dark enough!) and with the Moon almost out of the way now is a good time to have a look for it!

Thursday 24th July - One for the early risers today, a sliver of crescent Moon sits just to the right of bright planet Venus before sunrise this morning. If your eastern horizon is flat enough you may get a glimpse of Mercury into the bargain! If anyone gets any photographs of this close gathering please tweet them to us!

A thin crescent Moon sits close by to Venus and Mercury early this morning (shown at 03:00 UTC / 04:00 BST) if your horizon is flat enough (click to enlarge) - Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium

A thin crescent Moon sits close by to Venus and Mercury early this morning (shown at 03:00 UTC / 04:00 BST) if your eastern horizon is flat enough (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium

And gas giant Jupiter is in conjunction with the Sun today, so will be unobservable until the middle of August when it reappears in the sky as an early morning object

Saturday 26th July - The New Moon rises with (and sets just after) the Sun today, so now is a good time to observe deep sky objects when the skies are unaffected by moonlight

Monday 28th July - Today the Moon is at Apogee at a distance of 406,570 km (252,631 miles) the furthest point out in its orbit around the Earth this month

As usual, if you take any photos throughout July you’d like to show us, please tweet them to us using the link below! We’d love to see your efforts and we’ll re-tweet them to your fellow sky-watchers!

Planets visible this month:

Jupiter
Venus
Mars
Mercury
Saturn
Neptune
Uranus

Remember, it can take your eyes up to 20 minutes to become properly dark adapted, and anything up to an hour for a telescope to reach ambient temperature outside (to ensure the best image), so give yourself plenty of time to get set up!

To make it easier to find this list of astronomical happenings you can also locate it in the “Monthly Guide” section in the menu bar to the right. Handy! :)

Guide images created with Stellarium

Archive:
Astronomy Events – June 2014
Astronomy Events – May 2014
Astronomy Events – April 2014

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Astronomy Events – June 2014

May 31, 2014

by yaska77

So much of the year has passed already and we would be genuinely depressed at the lack of viewing opportunities we’ve had this year, if we weren’t so sickeningly optimistic!

June usually promises much opportunity for stargazing however, so we’ll keep our gear on standby and see what we can do about bringing you some more images and articles to get stuck in to!

As it always helps to have some handy info nearby when planning your observing schedule, below we’ve listed some interesting celestial occasions of note for the coming month. So get outside, crane your necks and keep watching the skies!

Sunday 1st June - This evening the thin crescent Moon can be viewed low down to the West after sunset, close to a bright Jupiter. A crescent Moon is always a great target for photographs, so if your western horizon is flat enough it’s worth a look with some binoculars or a small telescope

Shown to the West just after sunset, the crescent Moon and Jupiter should be clearly visible (click to enlarge) - Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium

Shown to the West just after sunset, the crescent Moon and Jupiter should be clearly visible and a great target for some photos (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium

Tuesday 3rd June - Today the Moon is at Apogee at a distance of 404,955 km (251,627 miles) the furthest point out in its orbit around the Earth

Wednesday 4th June - Remember that now is a good time of year to watch out for noctilucent clouds, which sometimes appear low down in the northwest (after sunset) and northeast (just before sunrise)

Noctilucent clouds as captured over Sweden (click to enlarge) – Credit: P-M Hedén

Noctilucent clouds as captured over Sweden (click to enlarge) – Credit: P-M Hedén

These clouds are in the upper atmosphere and are usually too faint to see, becoming visible only when illuminated by sunlight from below the horizon while the lower layers of the atmosphere are in the Earth’s shadow

Thursday 5th June - The Moon can be seen at First Quarter phase tonight

Saturday 7th June - Red planet Mars is paid a visit by the waxing gibbous Moon this evening, have a look WSW after nightfall

The Moon appears just below and to the right of Mars this evening, shown below at 21:00 UTC (22:00 BST) to the WSW (click to enlarge) - Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium

The Moon appears just below and to the right of Mars this evening, shown below at 21:00 UTC (22:00 BST) to the WSW (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium

Tuesday 10th June - Beautiful ringed planet Saturn appears close to the nearly full Moon this evening. If you look due South at about 21:30 UTC (22:20 BST) they should both be easy to find

A nearly full Moon and Saturn can be seen as close neighbours this evening (click to enlarge) - Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium

A nearly full Moon and Saturn can be seen as close neighbours this evening (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium

Friday 13th June - The Full Moon in the sky today is also sometimes known as the Rose Moon, Lotus Moon or the Moon of Horses

Sunday 15th June - The waning gibbous Moon is at Perigee today at a distance of 362,060 km (224,974 miles), the closest point of its orbit to the Earth

And continuing our recent addition to this guide, below we’ve provided constellation guides for southern and northern skies in June, shown at 00:00 UTC (01:00 BST). These can help you identify the early summer constellations you can see throughout the month

Shown at 00:00 UTC (01:00 BST) on 16th May, both these images are a handy guide for the whole month. This is the view you’ll get looking south (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium

Shown at 00:00 UTC (01:00 BST) on 15th June, both these images are a handy guide for the whole month. This is the view you’ll get looking South (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium

Displaying the night sky midway through the month, this image can help you identify the constellations you’ll see in the northern sky in May (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium

Displaying the night sky midway through the month, this image can help you identify the constellations you’ll see in the northern sky in June (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium

Thursday 19th June - Inner planet Mercury is in Inferior Conjunction today, remaining too close to the Sun for the rest of the month for observation.  And this evening our Moon is seen at Last Quarter phase

Friday 20th June – For those that find it difficult to locate dimmer planet Uranus, the Moon lends a helping hand this evening. The ice giant will appear about a Moon’s width from the Moon, so with the help of our guide image below it should increase your chances of spotting it!

Shown low down to the East at 02:00 UTC (03:00 BST) Uranus will be a Moon's width from the Moon (click to enlarge) - Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium

Shown low down to the East at 02:00 UTC (03:00 BST) Uranus will be a Moon’s width from the Moon (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium

Saturday 21st June - Today is Summer Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere

Tuesday 24th June - One for the dirty stop outs (or early risers) up before the Sun this morning, a beautiful thin crescent Moon greets bright morning object Venus to the ENE just before sunrise

If you're up before dawn on 24th June you could do worse than take a look at the thin crescent Moon visiting a bright Venus to the ENE (click to enlarge) - Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium

If you’re up before dawn on 24th June you could do worse than take a look at (or try and get some photos of!) the thin crescent Moon visiting a bright Venus to the ENE (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium

Friday 27th June - The New Moon rises with (and sets just after) the Sun today, so now is a good time to observe deep sky objects when the skies are unaffected by moonlight

Saturday 28th June – Double star Albireo will be very nearly overhead (facing South) at 01:00 UTC (02:00 BST) this evening

Double star Albireo can be located at the tail of constellation Cygnus (click to enlarge) - Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium

Albireo can be located at the tail of the constellation Cygnus, shown above at 01:00 UTC (02:00 BST) due South (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium

Located 430 light years from the Earth, when viewed with the naked eye it appears as a single star. We’ve imaged Albireo twice but will be aiming to have another look for some higher clarity stacked imaging

An image we captured of Albireo in early September 2011 (click to enlarge) - Credit: Sky-Watching/A.Welbourn

An image we captured of Albireo in early September 2011, the differing colours of the two stars is clearly defined (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/A.Welbourn

Monday 30th June – Today the Moon is at Apogee for the second time this month at a distance of 405,930 km (252,233 miles) the furthest point out in its orbit around the Earth this month

As usual, if you take any photos throughout June you’d like to show us, please tweet them to us using the link below! We’d love to see your efforts and we’ll re-tweet them to your fellow sky-watchers!

Planets visible this month:

Jupiter
Venus
Mars
Mercury
Saturn
Neptune
Uranus

Remember, it can take your eyes up to 20 minutes to become properly dark adapted, and anything up to an hour for a telescope to reach ambient temperature outside (to ensure the best image), so give yourself plenty of time to get set up!

To make it easier to find this list of astronomical happenings you can also locate it in the “Monthly Guide” section in the menu bar to the right. Handy! :)

Guide images created with Stellarium

Archive:
Astronomy Events – May 2014
Astronomy Events – April 2014
Astronomy Events – March 2014

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Astronomy Events – May 2014

April 30, 2014

by yaska77

Now we’re talking, the weather is warming up nicely and hanging around outdoors for the evening is no longer the daunting (and chilly) prospect it was just a few months ago.

We admit we’ve not exactly flooded this blog with our images recently, but the impetus is there to rectify that soon so we’re busy cleaning our scopes and charging our camera batteries with an intensity rarely seen round these parts!

Joking aside while putting together the guide you see below we’ve already picked out some astronomical occurrences in May to get us back outside and observing again. We hope you can join us (metaphorically of course…) so keep watching the skies!

Sunday 4th May - The waxing crescent Moon is closely visited by gas giant Jupiter this evening. Look low down to the West around 21:00 UTC (22:00 BST)

Shown low down to the West at 21:00 UTC (22:00 BST) Jupiter has the waxing crescent Moon for company after sunset (click to enlarge) - Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium

Shown low down to the West at 21:00 UTC (22:00 BST) Jupiter has the waxing crescent Moon for company after sunset (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium

Monday 5th May - This evening sees the peak of the annual Eta Aquarids meteor shower. Look towards the Eastern horizon from midnight onwards to catch these usually bright but fast moving meteors (with a ZHR of around 10 per hour expected as viewed from the UK)

Tuesday 6th May - Today the Moon is at Apogee at a distance of 404,320 km (251,233 miles) the furthest point out in its orbit around the Earth

Wednesday 7th May - The early morning Moon can be seen at First Quarter phase today

Saturday 10th May – Ringed planet Saturn is at Opposition in the constellation Libra this evening, so is observable for the whole night from sunset to sunrise.  When at opposition, Saturn is 1,331 million kilometres (827 million miles) from the Earth!

Despite its attraction we've not managed to image Saturn all that often, so we're hoping for another go at imaging it over March (click to enlarge) - Credit: Sky-Watching/A.Welbourn

Despite its attraction we’ve not managed to image Saturn all that often, so we’re hoping for another go at imaging it over May (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/A.Welbourn

You’ll also spot Mars very close to the Moon

Wednesday 14th May - The Full Moon in the sky today is also sometimes known as the Dragon Moon, Hare Moon or Grass Moon

Friday 16th May - Continuing our recent addition to this guide, below we’ve provided constellation guides for Southern and Northern skies in May, shown below at 00:00 UTC (01:00 BST). These can help you identify the spring constellations you can see in May

Shown at 00:00 UTC (01:00 BST) on 16th May, both these images are a handy guide for the whole month. This is the view you’ll get looking south (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium

Shown at 00:00 UTC (01:00 BST) on 16th May, both these images are a handy guide for the whole month. This is the view you’ll get looking south (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium

Displaying the night sky midway through the month, this image can help you identify the constellations you’ll see in the northern sky in May (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium

Displaying the night sky midway through the month, this image can help you identify the constellations you’ll see in the northern sky in May (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium

Sunday 18th May - The crescent Moon is at Perigee today at a distance of 367,100 km (228,105 miles), the closest point of its orbit to the Earth

Wednesday 21st May - Today our Moon is seen at Last Quarter phase

Sunday 25th May - The waxing crescent Moon appears close to planet Venus before sunrise this morning. Shown below at 03:00 UTC (04:00 BST), they make a great photo opportunity to you early risers (or dirty stop outs!)

This early morning meeting creates a great opportunity for some images. Shown at 03:00 UTC (04:00 BST) low down to the East (click to enlarge) - Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium

This early morning meeting creates a great opportunity for some images. Shown at 03:00 UTC (04:00 BST) low down to the East (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium

Inner planet Mercury is also at Greatest Eastern Elongation.  It will be brightest earlier in the month, but easier to spot after sunset low down to the WNW (if your horizon is flat enough) from the 15th onwards

Wednesday 28th May - The New Moon rises with (and sets just after) the Sun today, so now is a good time to observe deep sky objects when the skies are unaffected by moonlight

Friday 30th May - Now is the time of year to start looking for noctilucent clouds, which sometimes appear low down in the northwest (after sunset) and northeast (just before sunrise)

Noctilucent clouds as captured over Sweden (click to enlarge) – Credit: P-M Hedén

Noctilucent clouds as captured over Sweden (click to enlarge) – Credit: P-M Hedén

These clouds are in the upper atmosphere and are usually too faint to see, becoming visible only when illuminated by sunlight from below the horizon while the lower layers of the atmosphere are in the Earth’s shadow

As usual, if you take any photos throughout May you’d like to show us, please tweet them to us using the link below! We’d love to see your efforts!

Planets visible this month:

Jupiter
Venus
Mars
Mercury
Saturn

Remember, it can take your eyes up to 20 minutes to become properly dark adapted, and anything up to an hour for a telescope to reach ambient temperature outside (to ensure the best image), so give yourself plenty of time to get set up!

To make it easier to find this list of astronomical happenings you can also locate it in the “Monthly Guide” section in the menu bar to the right. Handy! :)

Guide images created with Stellarium

Archive:
Astronomy Events – April 2014
Astronomy Events – March 2014
Astronomy Events – February 2014

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Astronomy Events – April 2014

March 31, 2014

by yaska77

British Summer Time is now in effect, giving us lighter evenings and signalling the approach of actual summertime :)

April is a good month for garden astronomers, the warmer evenings allow for longer use of scopes and cameras without as much annoyance from dew and lens fogging (or general freezing!) but it’s still getting dark early enough to get some good observing in before bed!

So with a meteor shower towards the end of the month it’s as good a time as ever to get kids into appreciating the wonders of the night sky.  Today’s enthusiastic children are tomorrow’s astronomers, scientists and astronauts!

As usual then we’ve listed some astronomical events of interest for the coming month, so pick out some observing opportunities and keep watching the skies!

Wednesday 2nd April - Planet Uranus is in conjunction with the Sun today and is unobservable throughout April

Thursday 3rd April - The waxing crescent Moon is a close visitor in Taurus soon after sunset this evening as shown below

Shown due West at 21:00 UTC (22:00 BST) the waxing crescent Moon should be exhibiting Earthshine! (click to enlarge) - Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium

Shown due West at 21:00 UTC (22:00 BST) the waxing crescent Moon should be exhibiting Earthshine! (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium

With such a thin crescent you should be able to see some Earthshine affecting the Moon’s surface! This creates a nice effect so it’s worth trying to capture it in some photos if you have a DSLR

Earthshine happens when light reflected from the surface of the Earth illuminates the dark side allowing us to see details (click to enlarge) - Credit: Sky-Watching/A.Welbourn

Earthshine happens when light reflected from the surface of the Earth illuminates the dark side allowing us to see details (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/A.Welbourn

Monday 7th April - The Moon can be seen at First Quarter phase this evening

Tuesday 8th April - Today the Moon is at Apogee at a distance of 404,500 km (251,345 miles) the furthest point out in its orbit around the Earth

Red planet Mars is also at Opposition in Virgo this evening, so rises at sunset and sets at sunrise

We’ve yet to target Mars with our CCD camera (and variety of coloured filter lenses) so if the skies are favourable we may give it a proper go, especially as dark martian surface feature Syrtis Major Planum should be visible around midnight, providing a good contrast in surface colours to try and capture in the image

The only images we've managed to take of Mars so far have been wide angle shots (click to enlarge) - Credit: Sky-Watching/A.Welbourn

The only images we’ve managed to get of Mars so far have been wide angle shots like this one taken on 9th March 2014 (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/A.Welbourn

Tuesday 15th April - The Full Moon in the sky today is also sometimes known as the Flower Moon, Seed Moon or Awakening Moon, but also commonly as the Paschal Full Moon

Easter Sunday always immediately follows the Paschal Full Moon (which we imaged in April 2011) so perhaps we should call it the Bunny Moon or Egg Moon?!

Taken using a Canon EOS 550D DSLR mounted to a SkyWatcher Explorer 200mm Newtonian Reflector Telescope (click to enlarge) - Credit: Sky-Watching/A.Welbourn

This shot of a Paschal Full Moon from 2011 was taken using a Canon EOS 550D DSLR, mounted to a SkyWatcher Explorer 200mm Newtonian Reflector Telescope (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/A.Welbourn

The Moon will also experience a total lunar eclipse visible over east Australia, New Zealand, the Pacific and North and South America

It will enter the penumbral shadow at 00:35 and the umbral shadow at 05:58. Totality will last for 1 hour 18 minutes, between 07:07 and 08:25 with the moon leaving the umbral shadow at 09:38 and the penumbral shadow at 10:38 (all times UTC)

This map shows at a glance where on the planet the lunar eclipse will be visible - Credit: Fred Espenak (NASA GSFC)

This map shows at a glance where on the planet the lunar eclipse will be visible (click to enlarge) – Credit: Fred Espenak (NASA GSFC)

Wednesday 16th April - Continuing our recent addition to this guide, below we’ve provided constellation guides for Southern and Northern skies in April, shown below at 00:00 UTC (01:00 BST).  These can help you identify the spring constellations you can see in April

Shown at 00:00 UTC (01:00 BST) on 16th April, both these images are a handy guide for the whole month. This is the view you’ll get looking south (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium

Shown at 00:00 UTC (01:00 BST) on 16th April, both these images are a handy guide for the whole month. This is the view you’ll get looking south (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium

Displaying the night sky midway through the month, this image can help you identify the constellations you’ll see in the northern sky in April (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium

Displaying the night sky midway through the month, this image can help you identify the constellations you’ll see in the northern sky in April (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium

Monday 21st April – This evening is the peak of the annual Lyrid meteor shower, whose shooting stars appear to emanate from the constellation Lyra (see below for our radiant guide)

Best viewed late evening and early morning on the 22nd April before the Moon rises, you should also catch some Tuesday evening as well!

While the meteors will appear to emanate from Lyra, they can appear all over the sky (click to enlarge) - Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium

While the meteors will appear to emanate from Lyra they can appear all over the sky, seen streaking away from the radiant position. Shown above at 23:00 UTC (00:00 BST) to the East (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium

Tuesday 22nd April - This morning the Moon is seen at Last Quarter phase

Wednesday 23rd April - The crescent Moon is at Perigee today at a distance of 369,765 km (229,761 miles), the closest point of its orbit to the Earth

Saturday 26th April - Mercury is in Superior Conjunction

Tuesday 29th April - The New Moon rises with (and sets just after) the Sun today, so now is a good time to observe deep sky objects when the skies are unaffected by moonlight

An annular solar eclipse also occurs today, which is when the Moon’s apparent diameter appears smaller than the Sun’s, blocking most of the Sun’s light and causing the Sun to look like an annulus or ring. Sadly on this occasion only a partial eclipse will be visible from parts of Antarctica and Australia

As usual, if you take any photos throughout April you’d like to show us, please tweet them to us using the link below! We’d love to see your efforts!

Planets visible this month:

Jupiter
Venus
Mars
Mercury
Saturn

Remember, it can take your eyes up to 20 minutes to become properly dark adapted, and anything up to an hour for a telescope to reach ambient temperature outside (to ensure the best image), so give yourself plenty of time to get set up!

To make it easier to find this list of astronomical happenings you can also locate it in the “Monthly Guide” section in the menu bar to the right. Handy! :)

Guide images created with Stellarium

Archive:
Astronomy Events – March 2014
Astronomy Events – February 2014
Astronomy Events – January 2014

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Getting back into the swing of things…

March 13, 2014

by yaska77

Who’d have thought it!?  I’ve actually been outside with my telescope and finally got some fresh images to share!  Now, in my defence the wet and sodden Winter caused my garage door to seize shut with my telescope mount inside, making it impossible to use my scope for months (and my wife refused to stand outside in the cold for hours on end holding a 3 foot long telescope steady) but a week of dry weather finally allowed me to get back outdoors!

If you’re planning a night of observing I always find it beneficial to scan some astro software beforehand (our favourite is Stellarium) so you can pick out some specific targets.  As I knew the Moon would be setting early morning I looked ahead to see what deep sky objects would be visible to the East after midnight, as that direction offers the darkest patch of sky visible from my garden.

Early Sunday 9th March there were two star clusters I was eager to image! (click to enlarge) - Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium

Early Sunday 9th March there were two star clusters I was eager to image, shown above at 00:30 UTC (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium

My first port of call was M5 (also designated NGC 5904) which is a globular cluster in the constellation Serpens. Accurately aligning my telescope is pretty difficult due to Polaris not being visible from my garden (the house is in the way) but I can usually set it up well enough to avoid too much image drift.

Thankfully the sky was dark enough to locate the cluster through the finder scope, and once I had it centre of the camera frame it was fairly easy to keep it there!

This image is the result of stacking 150 individual shots, a method that always brings out clearer detail (click to enlarge) - Credit: Sky-Watching/A.Welbourn

This image of M5 is the result of stacking 150 individual shots, a method that always brings out clearer detail (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/A.Welbourn

I’d almost forgotten the tangible thrill you can experience when you first see the final result of the image stacking. There are far more stars visible in the image above than in the single photos alone.

With the morning wearing on it was time to locate my second target, another cluster this time located in the constellation Hercules.

Also known as the Hercules Globular Cluster, M13 contains around 300,000 stars (click to enlarge) - Credit: Sky-Watching/A.Welbourn

Also known as the Hercules Globular Cluster, M13 contains around 300,000 stars. This image was created by stacking 120 individual shots (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/A.Welbourn

I’ve wanted to image the Great Globular Cluster in Hercules (M13) for years now, so I’m pleased to finally have captured it.  And given the above images were shot on an evening with slight haze I’m hoping another look on a completely clear evening may provide even better images!

Overall (considering how long it’s been since I had my scope set up and working properly) I’m very happy with the evening’s results.  It’s re-ignited my desire to both ogle and photograph similar beautiful astronomical objects at every opportunity, and with big plans afoot for Sky-Watching.co.uk you can rest assured the posts and photos will start appearing again with increasing regularity.

There, I’ve written it down on the internet now, so now we have to do it!

Keep watching the skies friends :)

Images captured using:

Sky-Watcher Explorer 200P EQ5 PRO SynScan 200mm Newtonian Reflector Telescope
Unmodified Canon EOS 550D (with T-Ring)
Intervalometer
DeepSkyStacker Software

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