Posts Tagged ‘shooting stars’

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Astronomy Events – May 2016

April 30, 2016

by Adam Welbourn

Summer is just around the corner, you can almost feel it in the tingles of warmth you get from the Sun, for those few moments when the wind drops…

After an unusually cold April the forecasts finally show some sign of improvement, and it’s about this time of year that stargazing becomes even more enjoyable!

Yes night might arrive slightly later as each evening passes, but it’s still dark enough early enough to keep kids entertained and help them discover the joys and wonders of the night sky.

So to help you get started (as you knew we would) below we’ve provided some happenings of interest over the coming month, so now you’ve no excuse not to get out under the stars!

Keep watching those skies…

Thursday 5th May – Tonight sees the peak of the Eta Aquarid meteor shower, where the streaks are caused by burning particles shed by Halley’s Comet burning up in the Earth’s atmosphere

With the New Moon tomorrow it could be a good show, so get out and look up!

Meteor showers are fascinating to watch! (click to enlarge) - Credit: Sky-Watching/A.Welbourn

Meteor showers are fascinating to watch! (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/A.Welbourn

Friday 6th May – Today the New Moon rises and sets with the Sun, so now is a good time to observe deep sky objects like galaxies and nebulae, or get a clearer look at objects usually blurred and faint in light polluted skies

The Moon is also at Perigee at a distance of 357,825 km (222,342 miles) from the Earth, the closest it will come on its current orbit

Monday 9th May – This afternoon innermost planet Mercury transits the Sun! It starts its journey across the face of our star about 11:10 UTC (12:10 BST) appearing as a well defined dark dot on the left side of the Sun

Then over the course of the afternoon it slowly travels in an arc towards the middle, before dropping to the bottom of the Sun’s disc and moving out of view around 18:45 UTC (1945 BST)

Shown above at 15:00 UTC (16:00 BST) Mercury will spend all afternoon ambling across the face of the Sun! (click to enlarge) - Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium

Shown above at 15:00 UTC (16:00 BST) Mercury will spend all afternoon ambling across the face of the Sun! (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium

If you have certified solar viewing equipment it’ll be well worth a look. The next transit of Mercury will be in November 2019

Remember – Never look directly at the Sun, it will damage your eyes!

Friday 13th May – This evening the Moon will be seen at First Quarter phase

Monday 16th May – To help you identify the constellations you can see throughout the month, below we’ve provided guide images for both southern and northern skies 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

Wednesday 18th May – The Moon is at Apogee today at a distance of 405,935 km (252,236 miles), the furthest point its orbit will take it away from the Earth this month

Saturday 21st May – Today’s Full Moon is sometimes known as the Milk Moon, Dragon Moon or Bright Moon, and appears in the sky above Mars

Full 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

Full 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

Sunday 22nd May Mars is at opposition this evening (meaning it is opposite the Sun in the sky) rising at sunset and setting at sunrise

Wednesday 25th May – Now is about 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

Sunday 29th May – This afternoon the Moon is at Last Quarter phase

Monday 30th May Mars is the closest it has been to the Earth since 2005 this evening. Get out and give it a look, rising to the south east about 19:30 UTC (20:30 BST)

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 and we’ll re-tweet them to your fellow sky-watchers!

Planets visible this month:

Saturn
Mars
Jupiter
Mercury
Venus

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 2016
Astronomy Events – March 2016
Astronomy Events – February 2016

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Astronomy Events – April 2016

March 31, 2016

by Adam Welbourn

Ah… finally there’s a hint of a little warmth to that sunlight! I know I must have been warm outdoors at some point in the past, but I’m struggling to remember an example of when…

The clocks have gone forwards, evenings are lighter for longer, but with so much to see in the night sky throughout April there’s no excuse to let the later starts put you off a little stargazing. At least it’s not as cold.

You know the drill by now, below you’ll find some events of astronomical interest over the coming month, so peruse at your leisure and get out under the stars!

Keep watching those skies…

Thursday 7th April – Today the New Moon rises and sets with the Sun, so now is a good time to observe deep sky objects like galaxies and nebulae, or get a clearer look at objects usually blurred and faint in light polluted skies

The Moon is also at Perigee at a distance of 357,165 km (221,932 miles) from the Earth, the closest it will come on its current orbit

Friday 8th April – Early this evening the thinnest crescent Moon appears with a faint Mercury to its right. If you’ve got a flat enough western horizon give it a look, shown below at 19:00 UTC (20:00 BST)

If you can spot the crescent Moon you'll have a good chance of finding Mercury too, especially if you have a pair of binoculars (click to enlarge) - Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium

If you can spot the crescent Moon you’ll have a good chance of finding Mercury too, especially if you have a pair of binoculars! (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium

Saturday 9th April – Planet Uranus is in conjunction with the Sun, and is currently unobservable

Thursday 14th April – This morning the Moon will be seen at First Quarter phase

Saturday 16th April – To help you identify the constellations you can see throughout the month, below we’ve provided guide images for both southern and northern skies 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

Sunday 17th April – Gas giant Jupiter travels across the evening sky with the Moon this evening. Look to the south around 21:00 UTC (22:00 BST) and you can’t miss them, an even better sight through binoculars or a small telescope

Monday 18th April – Inner planet Mercury is at Greatest Eastern Elongation today, and may be visible after sunset to the north west (keep a look out for it from 8th April onwards!)

Thursday 21st April – The Moon is at Apogee today at a distance of 406,350 km (252,494 miles), the furthest point its orbit will take it away from the Earth this month

Friday 22nd April – Today’s Full Moon is sometimes known as the Flower Moon, Growing Moon or Awakening 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

Full 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

Sadly it is also the peak of the Lyrid Meteor shower this evening, but the light of the Full Moon will wash out all but the brightest of meteors

Monday 25th April – In the early hours of this morning the waning Moon will be joined by Saturn and Mars, forming a triangle in the sky. A great opportunity for some imaging!

Shown above at 00:30 UTC (01:30 BST) towards the South, the Moon forms a triangle with Saturn and Mars (click to enlarge) - Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium

Shown above at 00:30 UTC (01:30 BST) towards the South, the Moon forms a triangle with Saturn and Mars (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium

Saturday 30th April – This morning the Moon is at Last Quarter phase

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 and we’ll re-tweet them to your fellow sky-watchers!

Planets visible this month:

Saturn
Mars
Jupiter
Mercury
Venus

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 2016
Astronomy Events – February 2016
Astronomy Events – January 2016

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Astronomy Events – August 2015

July 31, 2015

by yaska77

Where is the summer going? I literally write up one of these fabulous guides (I’m nothing if not modest), work and sleep a couple of times and suddenly it’s time for the next one!

A lesson perhaps in the need to slow down, to take time to appreciate the simple things and most importantly de-stress once in a while? With such a wonderful free show above our heads every single evening we could all benefit from a little wonder and genuine awe.

So, with lots of warm and pleasant evenings expected in August you could do worse than have a read of our guide below and get out and view some of the galaxy we inhabit 🙂

Keep watching those skies…

Saturday 1st August  – The season for viewing Noctilucent clouds is nearly at an end, but for a few days more you may catch them 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 rare but beautiful clouds reside in the upper atmosphere and are usually too faint to see, only becoming visible when illuminated by sunlight from below the horizon while the lower layers of the atmosphere are in the Earth’s shadow

Sunday 2nd August – Today the Moon is at Perigee (the closest point of its orbit to the Earth) at a distance of 362,135 km (225,020 miles)

Friday 7th August – This morning our Moon will be seen at Last Quarter phase

Wednesday 12th August – This evening sees the peak of the annual Perseids meteor shower. This year could be a great one as the Moon is well out of the way rising just before the Sun, and as Perseids are well known busy displays, this one could be special!

We're hoping a good show will give us the chance to catch some more meteor shots, like this summer Perseid from 2012 (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/A.Welbourn

Hopefully the weather will behave allowing us to see a good show! We’d like to take more images like this summer Perseid we snapped in August 2012, taken at Wye in Kent (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/A.Welbourn

Although the shower actually peaks at around 08:30 UTC / 09:30 BST on Thursday morning, the ZHR (Zenithal Hourly Rate) can be as high at 80-100 meteors per hour!  If you’re up late the best time to view is after midnight, as the intensity of the meteor streaks increase as they start to hit the Earth head on

This can be such a busy shower those mesmerising streaks can appear anywhere, so it’s a great chance to delight your kids with shooting stars aplenty. Get comfy outside and look up!

Friday 14th August – Today the New Moon rises and sets with the Sun, so now is a good time to observe deep sky objects like galaxies and nebulae

Saturday 15th August – Planet Venus is in Inferior Conjunction, and will soon re-emerge from the glare of the Sun as a morning object

Sunday 16th August – To help you with identifying the constellations you can see throughout the month, below we’ve provided guide images for both southern and northern skies in August

Shown at 00:00 UTC (01:00 BST) on 16th August, 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 August, 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 August (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 August (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium

Tuesday 18th August – The Moon is at Apogee today at a distance of 405,850 km (252,184 miles), the furthest point its orbit will take it away from the Earth this month

Saturday 22nd August – Tonight the Moon will be seen at First Quarter phase, and if you’re lucky enough you might spot a companion travelling across the sky with our nearest neighbour!

Although the Moon will be half lit (at First Quarter Phase) you should still be able to spot Saturn just below it (click to enlarge) - Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium

Although the Moon will be half lit (at First Quarter Phase) you should still be able to spot Saturn just below it (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium

We’ve not imaged Saturn for far too long, I think it’s time to locate the CCD camera and reacquaint myself with how to use it properly!

Wednesday 26th August – Giant Jupiter is in Conjunction with the Sun today, so is unfortunately not currently observable

Saturday 29th August – The Full Moon today is sometimes known as the Harvest Moon, Corn Moon or Lightning Moon

Sunday 30th August – Today the Moon is at Perigee for the second time this month, this time it will be 358,290 km (222,631 miles) away!

As usual, if you take any photos throughout August 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:

Saturn
Venus
Neptune
Mars
Uranus
Jupiter
Mercury

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 – July 2015
Astronomy Events – June 2015
Astronomy Events – May 2015

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Astronomy Events – December 2014

November 30, 2014

by yaska77

Have you noticed it yet? That particular familiar smell in the air that tells you it’s going to be a frosty evening. Festive lights are starting to appear on houses and trees, and the queues of cars trying to get in and out of shopping centres gets longer day by day.

It can only mean the countdown to the holiday season is upon us, but in your rush to buy presents and make merry with family and friends, don’t forget that the coolest nights can provide you with the best seeing conditions for a little tour of the stars.

To help fire the enthusiasm we’ve taken it upon ourselves to list a few events of astronomical interest for the month of December, so wrap yourselves up extra warm, grab a flask of something hot and get out under the stars.

Happy Holidays from all at Sky-Watching!

Tuesday 2nd December – On this day in 1993 space shuttle Endeavour launched to provide the first in-orbit service of the Hubble Space Telescope

Saturday 6th December – The Full Moon today is sometimes known as the Christmas Moon, Snow Moon or Cold Moon, and can be found tonight in the Hyades cluster, part of the constellation Taurus

Look to the south about 22:30 UTC

Shot with a Canon EOS 550D mounted on a Sky-Watcher Explorer 200P Newtonian Reflector Telescope (click to enlarge) - Credit: Sky-Watching/A.Welbourn

Shot with a Canon EOS 550D mounted on a Sky-Watcher Explorer 200P Newtonian Reflector Telescope (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/A.Welbourn

Monday 8th December Mercury is in Superior Conjunction today, so is currently too close to the Sun for observation

Friday 12th December – Today the Moon is at Apogee at a distance of 404,585 km (251,398 miles), the furthest point out in its orbit around the Earth this month

Saturday 13th December – The annual Geminid meteor shower heads towards peak this evening (and into the morning of 14th December). With the Moon not rising until gone 23:00 UTC it might be an opportunity to get youngsters out meteor hunting!

Shown to the east at 22:00 UTC on 13th December, the Geminid Meteor Radiant is the part of the sky all the meteors appear to come from (click to enlarge) - Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium

Shown to the east at 22:00 UTC on 13th December, the Geminid Meteor Radiant is the part of the sky all the meteors appear to emanate from (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium

The guide shows you the area of the night sky the meteors will appear to be streaking away from, but they could appear all over the sky, so just get comfy looking up

Meteor intensity should increase towards dawn, with the peak actually occurring around midday on Sunday

Sunday 14th December – This afternoon our Moon will be seen at Last Quarter phase

Tuesday 16th December – To help identify the constellations you can see throughout the month, below we’ve provided guide images for both southern and northern skies in December (shown as seen at 00:00 UTC on 16th December)

Shown at 00:00 UTC on 16th December, 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 on 16th December, 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 December (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 December (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium

Sunday 21st December – Today is Winter Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere

And Apollo 8 launched on this day in 1968

Monday 22nd December – 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

The Rosette Nebula can be found due south 00:20 UTC this morning. Look midway between Bellatrix (the top right star of Orion) and Procyon in Canis Minor (click to enlarge) - Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium

The Rosette Nebula can be found due south 00:20 UTC this morning. Look midway between Bellatrix (the top right star of Orion) and Procyon in Canis Minor (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium

The Rosette Nebula appears as a dusty cloud which you should be able to see with good binoculars or a small telescope (if your skies are dark enough!) and has star cluster NGC 2244 at its centre

The stars of the open cluster shine brightly, surrounded by the gas and dust that make up the Rosette Nebula (click to enlarge) - Credit: Sky-Watching/A.Welbourn

The stars of the open cluster shine brightly, surrounded by the gas and dust that make up the Rosette Nebula (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/A.Welbourn

Wednesday 24th December – Today the Moon is at Perigee (the closest point of its orbit to the Earth) at a distance of 364,790 km (226,670 miles)

And in 1968 Apollo 8 became the first manned spacecraft to orbit the Moon

Saturday 27th December – The “father of modern astronomy” Johannes Kepler was born on this day in 1571

Sunday 28th December – This evening the Moon can be seen at First Quarter phase

As usual, if you take any photos throughout December 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
Mars
Mercury
Saturn
Neptune
Uranus
Venus

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 – November 2014
Astronomy Events – October 2014
Astronomy Events – September 2014

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April showers of the Lyrid kind

April 17, 2013

by yaska77

Beginning now until the 25th of this month we see the April Lyrid meteor shower (peaking on April 22nd before dawn). The meteors in this shower tend to be bright and leave persistent trails as they enter the Earth’s atmosphere.

In recent years the shower has seen anything from 10 to 20 meteors per hour.

01-wye-downs-perseid-12082012-sky-watching-co-uk

We caught this Perseid meteor flashing across the night sky in August 2012, so we’re hoping to have clear skies for the Lyrids! (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/A.Welbourn

Although that might sound like a fairly mediocre “shower”, it has been known for the Lyrids to surge to over 100 per hour! This is what makes this shower so difficult to predict. How many will we see?

Will it be a downpour of shooting stars or a washout this year!?

Lyrid Meteor Radiant 22.04.2013 01.00UTC Sky-Watching.co.uk

Although the meteors will seem to originate from Lyra, they can appear all over the sky. Shown above at 01:00 UTC (02:00 BST) on 22nd April just at the start of the peak (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium

Lyrid meteors originate from a radiant point in the constellation of Lyra which is where this shower gets its name. The best time to look for Lyrid meteors is late in the evening after 21:00 UTC (22:00 BST) however, the waxing gibbous Moon will still be in the sky until the early hours so its light may wash out the fainter meteors.

02-perseid-from-andromeda-12082012-sky-watching-co-uk

Another Perseid from August 2012, this one has more definition to the shape at the end of the streak and is seen heading away from the Andromeda galaxy (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/A.Welbourn

Don’t let this deter you though, the unpredictable nature of the Lyrid shower is what makes it worth watching so we hope you have clear skies!

Now we’ve expressed an interest we’re expecting it to be cloudy, but amateur astronomers are nothing if not optimistic 🙂

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