What’s Up! December 2021

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

Compiled by Steve Sawyer and John Rowland

 

Yay, it’s nearly Christmas, time for mince pies, mulled wine and dodgy jumpers!

Plus it also gets dark nice and early and {hopefully with good weather)  they’ll be time over the Christmas break to get a bit of stargazing in.  Assuming everyone isn’t drinking the sherry!

 

So what’s on this month?

Well, we have comets, meteors, seven planets in a line and some good deep-sky objects (DSOs).  Not forgetting Santa of course as he whizzes around the globe on the 24th, hopeful not spoiling too many long exposures!  Continue reading

What’s Up! November 2021

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

Compiled by Steve Sawyer and John Rowland

Well, it’s November already, darker evenings are coming as the days get shorter.

The Sky at night is on BBC 4, 14th November at 10 pm. As the James Webb Telescope nears its launch date. The show looks back at other famous telescopes that have enhanced our understanding of the cosmos.

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What’s Up! October 2021

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

Compiled by Steve Sawyer

A slightly later bulletin this month. I’m standing in for John Rowland, hopefully doing a decent job!

There are some interesting events taking place this month.  The primary events are Jupiter’s moon transits, 2 meteor showers and the appearance of Nessie on the moon!

The Sky at night on BBC 4 10th October 10 PM covers the forgotten solar system.  Neptune and Uranus have only ever been visited once by Voyager 2 but there are opportunities for further missions.

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What’s Up! September 2021

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

Compiled by John Rowland

Well, here we are again at the start of another astronomical season. Autumn can offer quite pleasant observing opportunities as the ground still retains some of the residual heat built up over the summer and the evening temperatures don’t drop too low. In addition, September and October are two of the most atmospherically stable months, with less rain, less cloud and a higher proportion of nights with good seeing. Continue reading

What’s Up! August 2021

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

Compiled by John Rowland

For most people, the realisation that the days are getting shorter comes as July rolls into August. That last walk with the dog, when suddenly, some stars appear that you didn’t notice the night before, or you realise you’re turning the lights on the inside before your favourite TV program ends instead of after it. All signs that “the season” is just around the corner. And what’s nice about August is that it’s often reasonably warm when it’s dark. What bliss. Continue reading

What’s Up! July 2021

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

Compiled by John Rowland

Anyone who has read these articles of mine before will know that I never try to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. If something isn’t worth getting excited about, I say so. Hyping things only disappoints. So I will be frank: for the rest of the summer and well into the autumn, apart from the ever-reliable Moon, solar system objects are going to be very disappointing. And July is of course the second lightest month in the year, starting as it does only 10 days after the summer solstice, so deep sky object observing is very limited as well. Consequently, this What’s Up will be a bit downbeat. I’m sorry, but that’s how it is. We must be content to look forward to August and beyond when observing opportunities improve dramatically. Continue reading

What’s Up! June 2021

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

Compiled by John Rowland

Well, we’re now into the lightest month of the year, and apart from the Moon and a few select double stars, there’s not much to see up there I’m afraid. The summer solstice is on June 21st at 0431 and on that day from York, the sun rises at 0434 and sets at 2139. There are no periods of astronomical darkness; the darkest nights on offer are between the 1st and the 7th, when there is some nautical twilight, but other than that there is only civil twilight (Sun 6° below horizon) all night. But let’s make the best of it and see what we can see. Continue reading

What’s Up! May 2021

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

Compiled by John Rowland

First, a Thank You.
Many thanks to all the people who commented on following What’s Up! April 2021. Those reactions have given us the reassurance that these articles are worth continuing.

 

Astronomy from the UK has always been a challenge. When we have long dark nights and a wealth of fascinating objects to observe, that means it’s winter, and only dedicated stalwarts are prepared to forsake the comfort of a warm house and brave the cold to set up and use the telescope. But we do it because we love our chosen hobby. So do we rejoice when the weather warms up in the spring? Of course we do; it’s just that by then, it doesn’t get dark enough for us to see anything! Continue reading

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