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.

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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

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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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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