What’s Up! April 2021

A monthly look at astronomical events in the sky and on Earth 

Compiled by John Rowland

Please see the “Leave a Reply” appeal at the end of the article – Editor.


Wow! All of a sudden it’s light in the early evening, with the Sun not setting until 7:40 pm on the 1st of the month. Summer skies and reduced viewing opportunities are ahead, so make the most of what darkness remains before you have to wait until after 10 pm for nautical twilight to end – which is when it ends on the 30th.

And the situation is exacerbated by the fact that all six planets – that are normally observable when skies are not particularly dark – are too distant (e.g. Mars) or impossible to see because they are too near the Sun, or only visible briefly at around 6 a.m. and very close to the horizon. Continue reading

What’s Up! March 2021

A monthly look at astronomical events in the sky and on Earth 

Compiled by John Rowland

We’ve seen quite a flurry of activity on the space front during February. More on that and what we can expect in the future later in this article.

As far as March skies are concerned, there are no significant events and four of the five brightest planets are not observable. Sorry, I can’t be more upbeat but it is what it is. Of course, we have the vernal equinox – on the 20th at 0927 – when across the world, day and night are exactly 12 hours long. This is officially the first day of spring, and to emphasise the point, the clocks go forward on the 28th. Continue reading

What’s Up! February 2021

A monthly look at astronomical events in the sky and on Earth 

Compiled by John Rowland

February’s weather is obviously not designed to entice you out into your garden to look at the sky. But if you can catch the odd clear, windless evening when there’s no Moon, you will be rewarded with some of the most famous objects in the night sky.

Each month, we aim to highlight the objects that are conveniently placed for viewing in the four-hour evening slot of 1900 – 2300 hrs unless there’s a good reason to view earlier or later.

Continue reading

What’s Up! January 2021

A monthly look at astronomical events in the sky and on Earth 

Compiled by John Rowland

A Happy New Year to all our Readers!

Prospects for 2021

Well, I hardly dare say, “What a year!” but it’s unavoidable. Thankfully, however, we enter 2021 with hope in our hearts that after such a long time, we can again get together with friends to gaze upwards, wonder, and share in the splendour of the night sky. After all, the cycles of the heavens know nothing of nor care about the trillions of microscopic organisms against which we, on this precious and exquisitely beautiful planet, are battling. Hopefully, this battle will soon be won, and we can turn our attention from microscopes to telescopes and say, “What’s Up?”. Continue reading

Observatory Renovation

The year 2020 has not been a wasted year for the York Astronomical Society (YAS) despite the COVID-19 lockdown restrictions for any physical observing events.

However, a number of YAS Members have worked hard to improve the observatory and its facilities, situated at Beetle Bank Farm (BBF). We now have an operational multi-function room, remote cameras on telescopes on the roof and observing deck and image feeds down into the warmth and comfort of that room. Continue reading

The Great Conjunction! December 2020

There has been a lot of media coverage in recent weeks about The Great Conjunction when the planets Saturn and Jupiter were expected to come in alignment with the Earth within 0.1° on 21 December 2020. This type of conjunction happens once every 20 years, so it was a significant astronomical event and astronomers throughout the world have gone out to look for this event. Continue reading