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

What’s Up! August 2020

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

Well what a month July was, mainly because of the justified excitement over comet Neowise, but also because Jupiter and Saturn were prominent from early evening. Society members managed to get some photos of the comet, many of which have been posted on our Facebook Chat Group page.

What to look out for in August – a summary

You may have noticed that the nights are starting to draw in. This increase in the length of the night is noticeable in the late evenings in August and heralds the ‘shoulder season’ for astronomical observations – August is the month when one begins to notice the stars again. And with it being predominantly warm, it is probably the month with the best combination of evening comfort and  darkness.

The Perseids meteor shower is the highlight of the month, but with the Moon present it will make viewing challenging. Mars, Jupiter and Saturn will be easy to spot. The Andromeda Galaxy makes a re-appearance and you can also look for the Double Cluster and the Cygnus Star Cloud. Also prominent is the Summer Triangle of Deneb, Altair and Vega.

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What’s Up! June 2020

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

Space news – stop press

Elon Musk’s attempt to ferry two astronauts to the ISS has been successful! The first attempt was halted after poor weather, but the second on Saturday was a success. Observers in the UK could see the shuttle playing tag with the ISS as it went overhead later in the evening. After 19 hours in space the Endeavour capsule docked with the ISS on Sunday. Thus opens a new era in manned space exploration. See Space.com for up-to-date news.

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What’s Up! May 2020

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

Well, were you able to take advantage of that wonderful run of clear, moonless nights during the second half of April? I hope so, because from about May 3rd right through to the end of July, it doesn’t get astronomically dark at all. And this prevents observation of all but the brightest deep sky objects, and even those can only be seen between midnight and 0200 BST.

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Our first online meeting

We held our first online meeting on Friday 24 April using the Zoom software. As a trial run, members only were invited and over 20 joined. Invitees were asked to suggest something astronomical to to during the lockdown (see link to Powerpoint document below for details).

The meeting was deemed a great success, so we plan to do one a month during the Covid-19 lockdown.

Slides from the meeting (downloadable Powerpoint file).

Graham Moore gave a short talk on astrophotography using a DSLR camera. He has posted the talk on Facebook.

What’s Up! April 2020

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

Oh dear! Those jobs we’ve put off doing for years and for which we can no longer use the excuse that we haven’t got time to do, will have to be done. There are no excuses left; we’re confined to barracks! So in this era of social distancing, are there any reasons for us astronomers to be cheerful? Well, maybe.

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