April 2024 – What’s Up!

Week of 15th April

  • Astronomical twilight ends at 22:14 BST at the start of the week and at 22:30 BST by the end of the week.
  • Comet 12P/Pons-Brooks reaches perihelion on Sunday. It will be at its brightest, at mag +4.4. Look for the comet in Taurus, close to the western horizon after sunset, which is at around 20:10 BST.
  • Jupiter (-2.0) is sinking ever closer to the western horizon, but is still just visible around sunset. It lies close to comet 12P/Pons-Brooks (+4.4) and under one degree away from Uranus (+5.8) this week.
  • The Moon is First Quarter on Monday.
  • The Sun currently has 7 active regions and the sunspot number is 115.
  • There are no visible evening ISS passes this week.
    (For full details about ISS passes click this link: heavens-above-iss-passes to visit the heavens-above website. If you are not in Marlborough, please ensure that you set your location for the most accurate ISS timings).

 

Week of 8th April

  • Astronomical twilight ends at 21:56 BST at the start of the week and at 22:11 BST by the end of the week.
  • The ‘Great American Eclipse’ is on Monday, with totality running from 16:43 BST in Mexico, crossing the USA and ending at 21:52 BST in south-eastern Canada. The eclipse won’t be visible from Marlborough, but a partial eclipse (max 39%) will be visible from Wales and Scotland.
  • Comet 12P/Pons-Brooks is at mag +4.7. Find the comet in Aries, about 18° above the western horizon after sunset, which is at around 20:00 BST this week.
  • Enjoy galaxy hunting with a telescope in the darkness of New Moon this week. Targets in the ‘Bowl of Virgo’ include: elliptical galaxy M87, or Virgo A, (+8.7), spiral galaxy M98 (+9.9), and Markarian’s Chain, an interesting alignment of 9 and more galaxies, including M86 (+8.8) and M84 (+9.0).
  • The Moon is New on Monday.
  • The Sun currently has 5 active regions and the sunspot number is 71.
  • There are no visible evening ISS passes this week.
    (For full details about ISS passes click this link: heavens-above-iss-passes to visit the heavens-above website. If you are not in Marlborough, please ensure that you set your location for the most accurate ISS timings).

 

Week of 1st April

  • Astronomical twilight ends at 21:40 BST at the start of the week and at 21:54 BST by the end of the week.
  • Comet 12P/Pons-Brooks is brightening, now at mag +5.1. Look for the comet in Aries, about 20° above the western horizon after sunset, which is at around 19:45 BST this week.
  • With the Waning Moon, this is a great time to hunt down faint galaxies in Ursa Major. Search for M81, Bode’s Galaxy (+6.8), and M82, the Cigar Galaxy (+8.0), close together about 10° to the northwest of Dubhe, the upper ‘pointer star’, and M51, the Whirlpool Galaxy (+7.9), about 3° below Alkaid, the star at the end of the Plough’s handle. A telescope will be needed to find these ‘faint fuzzies’.
  • The Moon is Last Quarter on Tuesday.
  • The Sun currently has 4 active regions and the sunspot number is 50.
  • There are no visible evening ISS passes this week.
    (For full details about ISS passes click this link: heavens-above-iss-passes to visit the heavens-above website. If you are not in Marlborough, please ensure that you set your location for the most accurate ISS timings).

 

 

March 2024 – What’s Up!

Week of 25th March

  • Astronomical twilight ends at 20:25 UT at the start of the week and at 21:38 BST by the end of the week.
  • The clocks change on Sunday, moving forwards one hour at 1am to enter British Summer Time (BST), which is GMT +1.
  • Mercury (0.0) reaches its highest altitude of just over 16° on Monday. Spot the planet in the west after sunset, which is at 18:29 UT.
  • Hunt down Comet 12P/Pons-Brooks (+5.5) in Pisces, about 20° above the western horizon at 19:30 UT. You will need a telescope or binoculars to find it.
  • The Moon is Full on Monday – the Worm Moon.
  • The Sun currently has 7 active regions and the sunspot number is 146.
  • There are multiple visible evening ISS passes this week.
    (For full details about ISS passes click this link: heavens-above-iss-passes to visit the heavens-above website. If you are not in Marlborough, please ensure that you set your location for the most accurate ISS timings).

Week of 18th March

  • Astronomical twilight ends at 20:11 UT at the start of the week and at 20:23 UT by the end of the week.
  • The Spring Equinox is on Wednesday 20th March – apparently a day early! The leap year has moved it from the more usual 21st March. The Sun will cross the celestial equator moving northwards, day and night will be equal, and the Sun will rise due East and set due West. Here in the Northern Hemisphere, the Equinox marks the beginning of Spring.
  • Mercury (-0.9) is creeping higher in our evening sky as it approaches Greatest Eastern Elongation on Sunday. Spot the planet at an altitude of around 15° in the west just after sunset – take care of the setting Sun if using binoculars.
  • Comet 12P/Pons-Brooks continues to brighten as it approaches perihelion on the 21st April and is now about mag +5.9, find it in Pisces 15° above the northwestern horizon after sunset.
  • The Moon is Waxing Gibbous all week.
  • The Sun currently has 5 active regions and the sunspot number is 67.
  • There are multiple visible evening ISS passes this week.
    (For full details about ISS passes click this link: heavens-above-iss-passes to visit the heavens-above website. If you are not in Marlborough, please ensure that you set your location for the most accurate ISS timings).

 

Week of 11th March

  • Astronomical twilight ends at 19:57 UT at the start of the week and at 20:09 UT by the end of the week.
  • Jupiter (-2.1) and Uranus (+5.8) are both in the western evening sky in Aries.
  • Comet 12P/Pons-Brooks is brightening as it approaches perihelion on the 21st April. It is mag +6.6, so use binoculars to find it in Andromeda close to the northwestern horizon after sunset.
  • The Moon is First Quarter on Sunday.
  • The Sun currently has 6 active regions and the sunspot number is 99.
  • There are multiple visible evening ISS passes this week.
    (For full details about ISS passes click this link: heavens-above-iss-passes to visit the heavens-above website. If you are not in Marlborough, please ensure that you set your location for the most accurate ISS timings).

 

Week of 4th March

  • Astronomical twilight ends at 19:44 UT at the start of the week and at 19:55 UT by the end of the week.
  • Jupiter (-2.2) sets at around 23:00 UT this week. The evenings are ever lighter as we approach the Equinox, so observing opportunities for Jupiter are rapidly decreasing now.
  • This week is the best time to attempt the Messier Marathon with the New Moon at the weekend. Try and observe as many of the 110 objects in the Messier catalogue over the course of a single night, starting with M74 at about 20:00, through to M73 at around 06:00. Good luck!
  • The Moon is New on Sunday.
  • The Sun currently has 6 active regions and the sunspot number is 91.
  • There are no visible evening ISS passes this week.
    (For full details about ISS passes click this link: heavens-above-iss-passes to visit the heavens-above website. If you are not in Marlborough, please ensure that you set your location for the most accurate ISS timings).

 

 

February 2024 – What’s Up!

Week of 26th February

  • Astronomical twilight ends at 19:32 UT at the start of the week and at 19:43 UT by the end of the week.
  • Jupiter (-2.2) sets at around 23:30 UT this week. There is a Great Red Spot transit on Tuesday evening, starting at 19:00.
  • Two open clusters in Cancer are well placed for observation this week: M67 (+6.9) and M44, the Beehive Cluster (+3.1).
  • The Moon is Last Quarter on Sunday.
  • The Sun currently has 5 active regions and the sunspot number is 106.
  • There are no visible evening ISS passes this week.
    (For full details about ISS passes click this link: heavens-above-iss-passes to visit the heavens-above website. If you are not in Marlborough, please ensure that you set your location for the most accurate ISS timings).

 

Week of 19th February

  • Astronomical twilight ends at 19:20 UT at the start of the week and at 19:30 UT by the end of the week.
  • Jupiter (-2.3) sets at around 23:45 UT this week, sinking ever further to the west as this apparition draws to a close.
  • As the Moon waxes to Full, spend some time exploring the areas of Mare Imbrium with the Jura Mountains and Oceanus Procellarum with craters Copernicus, Kepler and Aristarchus.
  • The Moon is Full on Saturday – the Snow Moon.
  • The Sun currently has 7 active regions and the sunspot number is 100.
  • There are no visible evening ISS passes this week.
    (For full details about ISS passes click this link: heavens-above-iss-passes to visit the heavens-above website. If you are not in Marlborough, please ensure that you set your location for the most accurate ISS timings).

Week of 12th February

  • Astronomical twilight ends at 19:09 UT at the start of the week and at 19:18 UT by the end of the week.
  • Jupiter (-2.3) sets at around 00:00 UT this week. Look 10° further east along the ecliptic to find Gas Giant Uranus (+5.8).
  • The Winter Wreath remains high in our evening sky this week. It contains two beautiful nebulae: the site of star birth in M42, the Great Orion Nebula (+4.0) below Orion’s Belt, and the remains of star death in M1, the Crab Nebula (+8.4) in the horns of Taurus.
  • The Moon is First Quarter on Friday.
  • The Sun currently has 9 active regions and the sunspot number is 146.
  • There are no visible evening ISS passes this week.
    (For full details about ISS passes click this link: heavens-above-iss-passes to visit the heavens-above website. If you are not in Marlborough, please ensure that you set your location for the most accurate ISS timings).

Week of 5th February

  • Astronomical twilight ends at 18:57 UT at the start of the week and at 19:07 UT by the end of the week.
  • Jupiter (-2.3) sets at around 00:30 UT this week. Europa transits on Wednesday, starting at 21:40 UT.
  • The challenge this week is the splitting of double stars. Start with favourites Almach (+2.2) in Andromeda with a 9″ (arcsecond) separation between the blue and golden pair, and Castor (+1.6) in Gemini, a brilliant white pair with a 5″ separation. Two closer doubles are 1 Arietis (+5.8) at 3″ separation and Gamma Ceti, Kaffaljidhma (+3.5) at just 2″ separation. Good luck!
  • The Moon is New on Friday.
  • The Sun currently has 8 active regions and the sunspot number is 123.
  • There are no visible evening ISS passes this week.
    (For full details about ISS passes click this link: heavens-above-iss-passes to visit the heavens-above website. If you are not in Marlborough, please ensure that you set your location for the most accurate ISS timings).

 

January 2024 – What’s Up!

Week of 29th January

  • Astronomical twilight ends at 18:47 UT at the start of the week and at 18:56 UT by the end of the week.
  • Jupiter (-2.4) culminates at around 17:50 UT this week. There are early evening GRS transits on Thursday and Saturday.
  • Two comets are in our skies, both are faint at around mag +10, so a telescope is required to find them. Look for comet 144P/Kushida in Taurus and comet 62P/Tsuchinshan in Virgo.
  • As we approach Messier Marathon season, get in training with some low open clusters in the south: M41 (+4.5) in Canis Major, M50 (+5.9) in Monoceros, M46 (+6.1) and M47 (+4.4) in Puppis, and M48 (+5.8) in Hydra. Good luck!
  • The Moon is Last Quarter on Friday.
  • The Sun currently has 3 active regions and the sunspot number is 52.
  • There are multiple visible evening ISS passes this week.
    (For full details about ISS passes click this link: heavens-above-iss-passes to visit the heavens-above website. If you are not in Marlborough, please ensure that you set your location for the most accurate ISS timings).

Week of 22nd January

  • Astronomical twilight ends at 18:36 UT at the start of the week and at 18:45 UT by the end of the week.
  • Jupiter (-2.4) culminates at around 18:15 UT this week. This apparition is drawing to a close as Jupiter starts to recede in our view, now at an apparent size of about 40 arcseconds and sinking towards the western horizon.
  • Comet 144P/Kushida is passing through Taurus as it reaches perihelion on Thursday. It is mag +10.5, so a telescope challenge to find.
  • The Moon is Full on Thursday – the Wolf Moon.
  • The Sun currently has 9 active regions and the sunspot number is 144.
  • There are multiple visible evening ISS passes this week.
    (For full details about ISS passes click this link: heavens-above-iss-passes to visit the heavens-above website. If you are not in Marlborough, please ensure that you set your location for the most accurate ISS timings).

Week of 15th January

  • Astronomical twilight ends at 18:27 UT at the start of the week and at 18:35 UT by the end of the week.
  • Jupiter (-2.5) culminates at around 18:40 UT this week. The first quarter Moon is in conjunction with Jupiter on Thursday, with a separation of about 2°.
  • This week’s binocular Deep Sky Challenge is a series of four open clusters. We start in Cassiopeia with Caroline’s Rose, NGC 7789 (+6.7), a dense cluster at about 5.9 kly. Next on to the Owl Cluster, NGC 457 (+6.4), at 7.9 kly, and finally to the Double Cluster, NGCs 869 and 884 at 6.8 kly and 9.6 kly in Perseus. Good luck and enjoy these sparkling jewel boxes!
  • The Moon is First Quarter on Thursday.
  • The Sun currently has 13 active regions and the sunspot number is 191.
  • There are multiple visible evening ISS passes this week.
    (For full details about ISS passes click this link: heavens-above-iss-passes to visit the heavens-above website. If you are not in Marlborough, please ensure that you set your location for the most accurate ISS timings).

Week of 8th January

  • Astronomical twilight ends at 18:19 UT at the start of the week and at 18:26 UT by the end of the week.
  • Mercury (-0.2) reaches Greatest Western Elongation on Friday, making it well placed in the morning sky. Look to the southeast at around 07:00 UT to spot the planet at about 8° altitude. Venus (-4.0), the morning star, is about 10° to the west.
  • Jupiter (-2.5) culminates at around 19:00 UT this week.
  • This month’s New Moon Deep Sky Challenge is in the constellation of Gemini. Start with the open cluster M35 (+5.1), with a larger aperture you can also see NGC 2158 (+8.6) in the field of view to the southwest. Next, on to the planetary nebula NGC 2392 (+9.2), the more aperture the better on this small object! Finally, on to the beautiful double star Castor (+1.6 and +2.9), easily split at 5 arcseconds of separation, but high magnification will be required. Good luck!
  • The Moon is New on Thursday.
  • The Sun currently has 8 active regions and the sunspot number is 149.
  • There are no visible evening ISS passes this week.
    (For full details about ISS passes click this link: heavens-above-iss-passes to visit the heavens-above website. If you are not in Marlborough, please ensure that you set your location for the most accurate ISS timings).

Week of 1st January

  • Happy New Year!
  • Astronomical twilight ends at 18:12 UT at the start of the week and at 18:18 UT by the end of the week.
  • Earth reaches perihelion on Wednesday, the closest point to the Sun in its orbit at just 0.983 AU.
  • The Quadrantid Meteor Shower peaks on Thursday. The peak is brief, lasting only about 8 hours, but it can be an intense shower with a nominal peak ZHR of about 120 meteors. The shower’s progenitor is asteroid 2003 EH1. The radiant is in the defunct constellation of Quadrans Muralis, now in Bootes.
  • Saturn (+0.9) is ever lower in the sky as its current apparition draws to a close. It now sets at around 20:45 UT and is only effectively visible until the end of January. Slew your telescope to Saturn this month before it is too late.
  • Jupiter (-2.6) culminates at around 19:35 UT this week.
  • The Moon is Last Quarter on Thursday.
  • The Sun currently has 3 active regions and the sunspot number is 48.
  • There are no visible evening ISS passes this week.
    (For full details about ISS passes click this link: heavens-above-iss-passes to visit the heavens-above website. If you are not in Marlborough, please ensure that you set your location for the most accurate ISS timings).

 

December 2023 – What’s Up!

Week of 25th December

  • Astronomical twilight ends at 18:07 UT at the start of the week and at 18:11 UT by the end of the week.
  • Saturn (+0.9) sets at around 21:10 UT through this week while Jupiter (-2.6) culminates at around 20:00 UT. There is a double shadow transit (Europa and Ganymede) across Jupiter on Saturday between at 22:16 and 23:56.
  • Comet 62P/Tsuchinshan reaches perihelion on Monday and peak brightness on Thursday, though it will still only be magnitude +9.2, so a telescope will be needed. Find the comet in Leo, passing by the Leo Triplet on Thursday.
  • The Moon is Full on Wednesday – the Cold Moon.
  • The Sun currently has 10 active regions and the sunspot number is 123.
  • There are no visible evening ISS passes this week.
    (For full details about ISS passes click this link: heavens-above-iss-passes to visit the heavens-above website. If you are not in Marlborough, please ensure that you set your location for the most accurate ISS timings).

 

Week of 18th December

  • Astronomical twilight ends at 18:03 UT at the start of the week and at 18:06 UT by the end of the week.
  • The Winter Solstice is on Friday when the Sun will reach its lowest declination of -23.5° at 03:24 UT. It will be the shortest day of the year and marks the start of winter here in the Northern Hemisphere.
  • Saturn (+0.9) culminates at around 16:30 UT through this week, and Jupiter (-2.7) culminates at around 20:25 UT. There is a transit of Io starting at 21:51 on Friday.
  • The Ursid meteor shower peaks on Friday, though don’t expect to see many Ursids, it is a minor shower, with only around 5 to 10 meteors per hour, nothing in comparison to the recent Geminids. The radiant is in Ursa Minor and the progenitor is comet 8P/Tuttle.
  • The Moon is First Quarter on Tuesday.
  • The Sun currently has 11 active regions and the sunspot number is 163.
  • There are no visible evening ISS passes this week.
    (For full details about ISS passes click this link: heavens-above-iss-passes to visit the heavens-above website. If you are not in Marlborough, please ensure that you set your location for the most accurate ISS timings).

Week of 11th December

  • Astronomical twilight ends at 18:02 UT at the start of the week and at 18:03 UT by the end of the week.
  • Saturn (+0.9) culminates at around 16:55 UT through this week, and Jupiter (-2.8) culminates at around 20:5 UT. Look out for transits of the GRS at 19:00 UT and Io at 20:00 UT on Friday evening.
  • The Geminid meteor shower peaks on Thursday evening. It is one of the finest showers of the year, producing around 80 to 100 meteors per hour. The Moon phase is favourable this year, so, if clear, it should be a great show! The progenitor of the shower is asteroid 3200 Phaethon.
  • This week’s Deep Sky Object is the Great Orion Nebula, M42, a star forming region about 1,400 light years from Earth. Visible as a fuzzy area below Orion’s Belt, binoculars or a telescope will reveal the extent of the object’s nebulous nature. Try to spot the four brightest stars of The Trapezium, the open cluster at the centre of the nebula.
  • The Moon is New on Tuesday.
  • The Sun currently has 8 active regions and the sunspot number is 125.
  • There are no visible evening ISS passes this week.
    (For full details about ISS passes click this link: heavens-above-iss-passes to visit the heavens-above website. If you are not in Marlborough, please ensure that you set your location for the most accurate ISS timings).

Week of 4th December

  • Astronomical twilight ends at 18:02 UT at the start of the week and at 18:01 UT by the end of the week.
  • Mercury reaches Greatest Eastern Elongation on Monday, making it best placed for observation in the evening sky. Look close to the southwestern horizon around sunset (16:00 UT) to spot the planet, but take care of the Sun if using binoculars.
  • Saturn (+0.9) culminates at around 17:20 UT through this week, while Jupiter (-2.8) culminates at around 21:20 UT. There is a transit of Io on Friday, starting at 18:14 UT, which coincides with the GRS being visible, use a telescope to enjoy the view.
  • This month’s Deep Sky Challenge is in Taurus, spot Messier 1 – The Crab Nebula between the horns of the bull. This supernova remnant is faint at mag +8.4, so a telescope will be needed to spot the ‘fuzzy blob’. Chinese astronomers recorded the associated supernova in 1054. The remnant has now expanded to cover 6 arcminutes of sky at about 6000 light years from Earth.
  • The Moon is Last Quarter on Tuesday.
  • The Sun currently has 10 active regions and the sunspot number is 92.
  • There are multiple visible evening ISS passes this week.
    (For full details about ISS passes click this link: heavens-above-iss-passes to visit the heavens-above website. If you are not in Marlborough, please ensure that you set your location for the most accurate ISS timings).

 

November 2023 – What’s Up!

Week of 27th November

  • Astronomical twilight ends at 18:05 UT at the start of the week and at 18:02 UT by the end of the week.
  • The four Giant planets are well placed for observation in our evening sky; from west to east, culmination times (UT) are: Saturn (+0.8) 17:55, Neptune (+7.9) 19:25, Jupiter (-2.8) 22:00 and Uranus (+5.6) 22:53.
  • Look out for Io transits of Jupiter on Wednesday starting at 22:00 and Friday at 16:27. The best GRS transit this week starts at 17:28 on Friday.
  • The Moon is Full on Monday – The Beaver or Frost Moon.
  • The Sun currently has 12 active regions and the sunspot number is 179.
  • There are multiple visible evening ISS passes this week.
    (For full details about ISS passes click this link: heavens-above-iss-passes to visit the heavens-above website. If you are not in Marlborough, please ensure that you set your location for the most accurate ISS timings).

Week of 20th November

  • Astronomical twilight ends at 18:10 UT at the start of the week and at 18:06 UT by the end of the week.
  • Saturn (+0.8) is ever further west in our evening sky, it currently culminates at 18:20 UT and sets at around 23:15 UT. How many of its moons can you spot with a telescope? Look on Monday to see the First Quarter Moon just 3° away from the planet.
  • Jupiter (-2.9) culminates at around 22.30 UT through the week and is at a high altitude of around 51°, making it very well placed for observation. Look for transits of the Great Red Spot and follow the orbits of its four Galilean moons.
  • The Moon is First Quarter on Monday.
  • The Sun currently has 3 active regions and the sunspot number is 39.
  • There are multiple visible evening ISS passes this week.
    (For full details about ISS passes click this link: heavens-above-iss-passes to visit the heavens-above website. If you are not in Marlborough, please ensure that you set your location for the most accurate ISS timings).

Week of 13th November

  • Astronomical twilight ends at 18:17 UT at the start of the week and at 18:11 UT by the end of the week.
  • Uranus (mag +5.6) reaches opposition on Monday. Find the planet 12° to the east of Jupiter (-2.9) in the constellation of Aries. A small telescope will show the small bluey-green disc of the Ice Giant.
  • The Leonid meteor shower peaks early on Saturday morning. It produces around 15 meteors per hour and with the Waxing Crescent Moon phase, observing prospects are good. The shower is a result of debris deposited by comet 55P/Tempel-Tuttle.
  • Saturn (+0.8) and Jupiter (-2.9) remain bright evening objects. Look out for a transit of Io on Wednesday, starting at 18:31 UT, and a transit of Ganymede on Friday, starting at 20:43 UT.
  • The Moon is New on Monday.
  • The Sun currently has 5 active regions and the sunspot number is 85.
  • There are multiple visible evening ISS passes this week.
    (For full details about ISS passes click this link: heavens-above-iss-passes to visit the heavens-above website. If you are not in Marlborough, please ensure that you set your location for the most accurate ISS timings).

Week of 6th November

  • Astronomical twilight ends at 18:26 UT at the start of the week and at 18:18 UT by the end of the week.
  • The Gas Giants remain well placed in our evening sky. Saturn (mag +0.8) culminates at around 19:00 UT through the week, and Jupiter (-2.9) culminates at about 23:20 UT. Look out for GRS transits starting at 21:49 UT on Monday, 17:40 UT on Tuesday and 23:27 UT on Wednesday.
  • Dark skies this week offer excellent deep sky observing opportunities. The selected targets are in the constellations of Cassiopeia and Perseus. Start with three open clusters: NGC 7789, Caroline’s Rose (named after its discoverer, Caroline Herschel), then on to NGC 457, the Owl Cluster, and finishing with C14, the Double Cluster. For those who seek a greater challenge, try to find M76, the Little Dumbbell Nebula, a small faint (+10) planetary nebula in Perseus.
  • The Moon is Waning Gibbous all week.
  • The Sun currently has 7 active regions and the sunspot number is 95.
  • There are no visible evening ISS passes this week.
    (For full details about ISS passes click this link: heavens-above-iss-passes to visit the heavens-above website. If you are not in Marlborough, please ensure that you set your location for the most accurate ISS timings).

 

October 2023 – What’s Up!

Week of 30th October

  • Astronomical twilight ends at 18:37 UT at the start of the week and at 18:28 UT by the end of the week.
  • Jupiter (mag -2.9) reaches opposition on Friday, when it will be opposite the Sun as seen from Earth and at its closest point to Earth at only 3.98 AU away. It will appear largest (about 50 arcseconds in apparent diameter) and brightest in our sky, best placed for observation. On Monday there is a transit of Io, starting at 20:37 UT.
  • Saturn (+0.7) remains well placed for observation, culminating at around 19:40 UT through the week.
  • The Taurid meteor shower peaks on Saturday night. It is a modest shower, with only around 5 meteors per hour, but it can produce impressive fireballs. The shower has a northern and southern component, created by two streams of comet debris deposited by Asteroid 2004 TG10 and Comet 2P/Enke.
  • The Moon is Last Quarter on Sunday.
  • The Sun currently has 5 active regions and the sunspot number is 70.
  • There are no visible evening ISS passes this week.
    (For full details about ISS passes click this link: heavens-above-iss-passes to visit the heavens-above website. If you are not in Marlborough, please ensure that you set your location for the most accurate ISS timings).

Week of 23rd October

  • Astronomical twilight ends at 19:49 BST at the start of the week and at 18:39 GMT by the end of the week.
  • British Summer Time ends on Sunday and we will return to GMT; don’t forget to put your clocks back one hour!
  • Venus (mag -4.4) reaches Greatest Western Elongation on Tuesday, when it will be best placed for observation in the morning sky before sunrise.
  • There is a partial lunar eclipse on Saturday. From Marlborough, only 12% of the Moon’s surface will be covered by the Earth’s umbra. The eclipse starts at 20:36 BST, maximum eclipse is at 21:15 BST and the eclipse ends at 21:53 BST.
  • Saturn (+0.7) and Jupiter (-2.9) remain dominant in our evening sky.
  • The Moon is Full on Saturday.
  • The Sun currently has 5 active regions and the sunspot number is 65.
  • There are no visible evening ISS passes this week.
    (For full details about ISS passes click this link: heavens-above-iss-passes to visit the heavens-above website. If you are not in Marlborough, please ensure that you set your location for the most accurate ISS timings).

Week of 16th October

  • Astronomical twilight ends at 20:03 BST at the start of the week and at 19:51 BST by the end of the week.
  • Saturn (mag +0.7) and Jupiter (-2.9) remain dominant in our evening sky, while Venus (-4.4) dominates our morning sky, reaching its highest altitude of about 35° at sunrise.
  • The Orionid meteor shower peaks on Saturday night. This is a relatively quiet shower with an expected ZHR of about 10 meteors. The shower’s progenitor is comet 1P/Halley.
  • The Moon is First Quarter on Sunday.
  • The Sun currently has 7 active regions and the sunspot number is 100.
  • There are no visible evening ISS passes this week.
    (For full details about ISS passes click this link: heavens-above-iss-passes to visit the heavens-above website. If you are not in Marlborough, please ensure that you set your location for the most accurate ISS timings).

Week of 9th October

  • Astronomical twilight ends at 20:18 BST at the start of the week and at 20:05 BST by the end of the week.
  • The planets remain dominant in our sky with Saturn (mag +0.6) culminating at about 22:00 BST, Jupiter (-2.9) culminating at 02:30 BST and Venus (-4.5) rising at 03:11 BST.
  • This week’s New Moon gives dark skies, perfect for galaxy hunting. Use a telescope to track down four galaxies in our Local Group around Andromeda; starting with M31, the Andromeda Galaxy and its two satellite galaxies M32 and M110, all at about 2.5 million light years from Earth. Then slew south a few degrees to M33, the Triangulum Galaxy, about 2.8 million light years away.
  • On Saturday there is an annular solar eclipse, caused when the Moon is around apogee, its furthest orbital point from Earth, so it will not completely cover the Sun, leaving a ring of sunlight around the eclipsed portion of the Sun. Unfortunately for us in Marlborough, it will only be visible from the Americas. The eclipse will travel along its path of totality from 16:05 to 21:55 BST. Look online for live streams.
  • The Moon is New on Saturday.
  • The Sun currently has 9 active regions and the sunspot number is 145.
  • There are no visible evening ISS passes this week.
    (For full details about ISS passes click this link: heavens-above-iss-passes to visit the heavens-above website. If you are not in Marlborough, please ensure that you set your location for the most accurate ISS timings).

Week of 2nd October

  • Astronomical twilight ends at 20:34 BST at the start of the week and at 20:20 BST by the end of the week.
  • Saturn (mag +0.6) remains well placed in our evening sky, culminating at about 22:30 BST.
  • Jupiter (-2.8) is slowly becoming more prominent in our evening sky, reaching an altitude of 22° above the eastern horizon by 22:00 BST. Watch a shadow transit of Ganymede on Thursday, starting at 22:25 BST. This is followed by a transit of Io, starting at 02:56 BST on Friday morning.
  • M31, The Andromeda Galaxy, is well placed for observation at this time of year, high in the southeast. Use averted vision from a dark site to spot the most distant object visible with the naked eye at 2.5 million light years away from Earth. A telescope will reveal the bright core and possibly even dust lane details of the spiral arms.
  • The Moon is Last Quarter on Friday
  • The Sun currently has 7 active regions and the sunspot number is 106.
  • There are multiple visible evening ISS passes this week.
    (For full details about ISS passes click this link: heavens-above-iss-passes to visit the heavens-above website. If you are not in Marlborough, please ensure that you set your location for the most accurate ISS timings).

 

September 2023 – What’s Up!

Week of 25th September

  • Astronomical twilight ends at 20:52 BST at the start of the week and at 20:37 BST by the end of the week.
  • Saturn (mag +0.5) lies at an altitude of about 15° in the southeast with Jupiter (-2.8) in the east, rising at around 20:10 BST, reaching a maximum altitude of 53° as it transits at around 03:45 BST.
  • Neptune (+7.8) lies 25° east of Saturn and Uranus (+5.7) is 8° east of Jupiter.
  • The Moon is Full on Friday – the Harvest Supermoon
  • The Sun currently has 12 active regions and the sunspot number is 198.
  • There are multiple visible evening ISS passes this week.
    (For full details about ISS passes click this link: heavens-above-iss-passes to visit the heavens-above website. If you are not in Marlborough, please ensure that you set your location for the most accurate ISS timings).

Week of 18th September

  • Astronomical twilight ends at 21:10 BST at the start of the week and at 20:54 BST by the end of the week.
  • The September equinox is on Saturday, marking the first day of autumn here in the northern hemisphere. The Sun will cross the celestial equator, decreasing in declination. Day and night length will be almost exactly equal and the Sun will rise due East and set due West, one of only two days in the year when this occurs.
  • The Planets: Mercury (-0.3) is at Greatest Western Elongation on Friday, Venus (-4.5) dominates the morning sky, Mars is too close to the Sun to be visible, Saturn (+0.5) culminates at 23:30 BST, Jupiter (-2.7) rises at 20:40 BST, Uranus (+5.7) lies about 7° east of Jupiter, and Neptune (mag +7.8) reaches opposition on Tuesday.
  • The Moon is First Quarter on Friday
  • The Sun currently has 6 active regions and the sunspot number is 88.
  • There are multiple visible evening ISS passes this week.
    (For full details about ISS passes click this link: heavens-above-iss-passes to visit the heavens-above website. If you are not in Marlborough, please ensure that you set your location for the most accurate ISS timings).

Week of 11th September

  • Astronomical twilight ends at 21:29 BST at the start of the week and at 21:13 BST by the end of the week.
  • Comet C/2023 P1 (Nishimura) passes perigee (its closest point to Earth) on Tuesday. The comet is reported to be visible by naked eye, though hard to spot. Look to the northeast, close to the horizon around sunrise (which is at about 06:30 BST this week) or in the northwest around sunset (19:30 BST). You will need a clear horizon as the comet is at an altitude of only 10°. [CAUTION: beware of bright sunlight in this area of the sky, especially if using binoculars or a telescope].
  • If out comet hunting at dawn, you will certainly see Venus (mag -4.5) at around 26° altitude in the east. A telescope will reveal its crescent phase as it moves towards greatest western elongation on 23rd October.
  • Saturn (+0.5) and Jupiter (-2.7) are both clearly visible in our south / southeastern evening sky.
  • The Moon is New on Friday
  • The Sun currently has 6 active regions and the sunspot number is 119.
  • There are multiple visible evening ISS passes this week.
    (For full details about ISS passes click this link: heavens-above-iss-passes to visit the heavens-above website. If you are not in Marlborough, please ensure that you set your location for the most accurate ISS timings).

 

Week of 4th September

  • Astronomical twilight ends at 21:49 BST at the start of the week and at 21:32 BST by the end of the week.
  • Saturn (mag +0.4) is well placed in the south, culminating at around midnight this week. Its brighter moons, such as Titan, Rhea and Iapetus can be easily observed in the same plane as the ring system.
  • Jupiter (-2.6) is rising ever earlier, now in our evening sky at around 21:30 BST. The Great Red Spot is perfectly placed for observation on Thursday evening.
  • Deep Sky hunters can find two globular clusters in the southern evening sky: Messier 2 (+6.5) in Aquarius and Messier 15 (+6.2) in Pegasus. Their distances from Earth are 38 and 34 thousand light years respectively.
  • The Moon is Last Quarter on Wednesday
  • The Sun currently has 5 active regions and the sunspot number is 77.
  • There are no visible evening ISS passes this week.
    (For full details about ISS passes click this link: heavens-above-iss-passes to visit the heavens-above website. If you are not in Marlborough, please ensure that you set your location for the most accurate ISS timings).

 

 

August 2023 – What’s Up!

Week of 28th August

  • Astronomical twilight ends at 22:10 BST at the start of the week and at 21:52 BST by the end of the week.
  • Saturn (mag +0.4) has just passed opposition and remains well placed in our evening sky, though the 99% Full Moon will be close by on Wednesday at just 3° separation.
  • Jupiter (-2.6) rises at about 22:00 BST through the week. There is a Great Red Spot transit at 22:36 BST on Thursday.
  • The Moon is Full on Thursday. As the second Full Moon in the same month it is called a Blue Moon; furthermore, it is at perigee, so it will be a Super Blue Moon!
  • The Sun currently has 5 active regions and the sunspot number is 69.
  • There are no visible evening ISS passes this week.
    (For full details about ISS passes click this link: heavens-above-iss-passes to visit the heavens-above website. If you are not in Marlborough, please ensure that you set your location for the most accurate ISS timings).

 

Week of 21st August

  • Astronomical twilight ends at 22:32 BST at the start of the week and at 22:13 BST by the end of the week.
  • Saturn (mag +0.4) reaches opposition on Sunday when it will be opposite the Sun from Earth, putting it in the optimum position for observation. It will be at a distance of just 8.76 AU and will have an apparent size of 19 arcseconds. Through the week the gas giant rises at about 20:00 BST and culminates at around 01:10 BST.
  • Delphinus is the constellation of the week, found just to the east of Altair. It is quite faint with Alpha Delphini only mag +3.8. It contains the lovely double star, Gamma Delphini at the nose of the Dolphin with a separation of 8.8 arcseconds, and two globular clusters, NGC 7006 (+10.6) and NGC 6934 (+8.8); all great telescopic targets.
  • The Moon is First Quarter on Thursday.
  • The Sun currently has 7 active regions and the sunspot number is 104.
  • There are no visible evening ISS passes this week.
    (For full details about ISS passes click this link: heavens-above-iss-passes to visit the heavens-above website. If you are not in Marlborough, please ensure that you set your location for the most accurate ISS timings).

 

Week of 14th August

  • Astronomical twilight ends at 22:56 BST at the start of the week and at 22:36 BST by the end of the week.
  • Saturn (mag +0.5) lies at a maximum altitude of 27° this week, rising at about 20:45 BST and culminating at around 01:50 BST. Its rings will appear to brighten as it approaches opposition on 27th August.
  • Jupiter (-2.5) rises at about 22:50 BST through this week. This year’s apparition should be impressive as it reaches an altitude of over 50° with opposition on 3rd November.
  • The Summer Triangle is high in the dark, Moon free sky this week. Use a telescope to search out its highlight deep sky objects: two planetary nebulae – M27, the Dumbbell Nebula (+7.1) and M57, the Ring Nebula (+8.8), two double stars – Albireo, Beta Cygni and the Double Double, Epsilon Lyrae, two globular clusters – M56 (+8.3) and M71 (+8.2), two open clusters – M29 (+6.6) and Collinder 399 (+3.6), and finally, two nebulae – the North America Nebula (+4.0) and the Veil Nebula (+5.0). Plenty to keep you busy!
  • The Moon is New on Wednesday.
  • The Sun currently has 4 active regions and the sunspot number is 61.
  • There are no visible evening ISS passes this week.
    (For full details about ISS passes click this link: heavens-above-iss-passes to visit the heavens-above website. If you are not in Marlborough, please ensure that you set your location for the most accurate ISS timings).

 

Week of 7th August

  • Astronomical twilight ends at 23:21 BST at the start of the week and at 22:59 BST by the end of the week.
  • The Perseid meteor shower reaches its peak on Saturday night. It is one of the finest meteor showers of the year with up to 60 meteors per hour and this year, proximity to the New Moon will provide perfect dark skies for observation. The shower’s progenitor is comet 109P/Swift-Tuttle. The period of activity is from 17th July to 24th August, so look out for Perseid meteors either side of the peak too.
  • Saturn (mag +0.5) is visible in our evening sky, rising at around 21:15 BST and culminating at about 02:30 BST. It is quite low at a max altitude of about 27°. Jupiter (-2.5) returns to our evening sky, rising at around 23:15 BST this week.
  • The Moon is Last Quarter on Tuesday.
  • The Sun currently has 7 active regions and the sunspot number is 100.
  • There are no visible evening ISS passes this week.
    (For full details about ISS passes click this link: heavens-above-iss-passes to visit the heavens-above website. If you are not in Marlborough, please ensure that you set your location for the most accurate ISS timings).

 

July 2023 – What’s Up!

Week of 31st July

  • Astronomical twilight ends at 23:49 BST at the start of the week and at 23:24 BST by the end of the week.
  • On Thursday, Saturn (mag +0.6) and the Waning Gibbous Moon (-11.0) will be separated by just 7°. Saturn will rise first at about 22:00 BST, followed by the Moon some 15 minutes later.
  • If you have a reasonably low southern horizon, go Wild Duck hunting this week! M11, the Wild Duck Cluster, is well placed for observation with binoculars as it is due south at around 23:00 BST, but being in the constellation of Scutum, just below Aquila, it only reaches about 30° altitude. Whilst in that area, enjoy the plethora of open clusters in the Milky Way.
  • The Moon is Full on Tuesday – the Sturgeon Moon. This is the first of two Full Moons in August, so the second one, on the 31st, will be a ‘Blue Moon’.
  • The Sun currently has 10 active regions and the sunspot number is 147.
  • There are no visible evening ISS passes this week.
    (For full details about ISS passes click this link: heavens-above-iss-passes to visit the heavens-above website. If you are not in Marlborough, please ensure that you set your location for the most accurate ISS timings).

 

Week of 24th July

  • Astronomical twilight ends at 00:31 BST at the start of the week and at 23:53 by the end of the week.
  • Mercury (mag -0.1) reaches its highest altitude in the evening sky on Tuesday. Look about 8° above the western horizon just after sunset (21:05 BST) to see the small planet about 5° above and to the west of Venus (-4.4). A telescope will show Mercury in its waning gibbous phase and Venus as a thin crescent at just 10% illumination.
  • Saturn (+0.6) is returning to our evening skies, rising at around 22:15 BST this week. It culminates at about 03:00 BST, reaching a maximum altitude of 27°. The ringed planet reaches opposition on 27th August, when it will be best placed for observation.
  • The Moon is First Quarter on Tuesday.
  • The Sun currently has 6 active regions and the sunspot number is 103.
  • There are multiple visible evening ISS passes this week.
    (For full details about ISS passes click this link: heavens-above-iss-passes to visit the heavens-above website. If you are not in Marlborough, please ensure that you set your location for the most accurate ISS timings).

 

Week of 17th July

  • Darkness finally returns on Thursday night when astronomical twilight ends at 01:05 BST on Friday morning, only to start again at 01:22, giving us just 17 minutes of proper astronomical darkness!
  • Dwarf planet Pluto reaches opposition on Saturday. It will still be tricky to spot at just 0.1 arcsecond in apparent size and magnitude +14.3. Further to this, it only reaches 15° of altitude as it culminates at 01:12 BST. A hard target to find, but a satisfying catch if successful.
  • The New Moon provides sufficient darkness to hunt down faint nebulae in Cygnus this week. The first is NGC 7000, the North American Nebula close to Deneb. This contrasting patch of gas and dust is mag +4.0 and covers about 2° of sky, so low power is recommended. The more challenging Veil Nebula (NGC 6995, 6974 & 6960) is a faint supernova remnant at around mag +5, stretching about 3°. It is notoriously difficult to observe visually, so only the darkest skies and largest optics will do.
  • The Moon is New on Monday.
  • The Sun currently has 6 active regions and the sunspot number is 96.
  • There are multiple visible evening ISS passes this week.
    (For full details about ISS passes click this link: heavens-above-iss-passes to visit the heavens-above website. If you are not in Marlborough, please ensure that you set your location for the most accurate ISS timings).

 

Week of 10th July

  • Astronomical twilight does not end until July 21st.
  • Keep an eye out for noctilucent clouds; they have been illusive so far this season, but reports indicate that they are starting to appear now. Look to the northern horizon after sunset and before sunrise for these high altitude, night shining opalescent clouds.
  • Search for two planetary nebulae in the Summer Triangle this week. The first is M57, the Ring Nebula in Lyra (mag +8.8), and the second is M27, the Dumbbell Nebula in Vulpecula (+7.1). You will need a telescope to find these remnants of exploded low mass stars. A high contrast filter can help tweak out more detail.
  • The Moon is Last Quarter on Monday.
  • The Sun currently has 11 active regions and the sunspot number is 197.
  • There are multiple visible evening ISS passes this week.
    (For full details about ISS passes click this link: heavens-above-iss-passes to visit the heavens-above website. If you are not in Marlborough, please ensure that you set your location for the most accurate ISS timings).

Week of 3rd July

  • Astronomical twilight does not end until July 21st.
  • The Earth reaches aphelion on Thursday, the most distant point from the Sun in its elliptical orbit, at a distance of 1.017 AU or a little over 152 million kilometres.
  • Despite the Full Moon this week, which is very low in the sky, reaching a maximum altitude of only 13°, it will still be possible to find some of the brighter deep sky objects. Track down two Globular Clusters in the Summer Triangle: M56 (mag +8.8) in Lyra and M71 (+8.1) in Sagitta.
  • The Moon is Full on Monday – the Buck Moon.
  • The Sun currently has 7 active regions and the sunspot number is 119.
  • There are no visible evening ISS passes this week.
    (For full details about ISS passes click this link: heavens-above-iss-passes to visit the heavens-above website. If you are not in Marlborough, please ensure that you set your location for the most accurate ISS timings).

 

 

June 2023 – What’s Up!

Week of 26th June

  • Astronomical twilight does not end until July 21st.
  • Venus (mag -4.4) is conspicuous in the west around sunset. Use a telescope to see its waning crescent phase. If you follow it over the coming weeks, you will see it increase in apparent size as it approaches Earth in its orbit.
  • The final observing challenge of June is to use a pair of binoculars to explore the Milky Way. Take your time to navigate the myriad stars interspersed with dark nebulous patches. Can you find Brocchi’s Cluster, also called the Coathanger due to the particular shape formed by its stars? Look about two thirds of the way from Vega to Altair in the Summer Triangle.
  • The Moon is First Quarter on Monday.
  • The Sun currently has 14 active regions and the sunspot number is 200.
  • There are no visible evening ISS passes this week.
    (For full details about ISS passes click this link: heavens-above-iss-passes to visit the heavens-above website. If you are not in Marlborough, please ensure that you set your location for the most accurate ISS timings).

Week of 19th June

  • Astronomical twilight does not end until July 21st.
  • On Wednesday, at 15:54 BST the Sun will reach its maximum declination of +23.5°, creating the longest day and the Summer Solstice here in the northern hemisphere. It is historically important as Eratosthenes observed the difference in altitude of the Sun from Aswan and Alexandria in Egypt on the Summer Solstice in about 240 BC to be the first to calculate the circumference of the Earth.
  • Spot the thin crescent Moon (mag -4.8) close to bright Venus (-4.4) on Wednesday evening. Look above the western horizon around sunset to see the pair.
  • This week’s observing challenge involves double stars in the Summer Triangle: start with Albireo in Cygnus, a beautiful contrasting colour pair at mag +3.1. Then move your telescope to Epsilon Lyrae (+5.0), better known as the Double Double, which will require good seeing and high magnification to successfully split all four stars.
  • The Moon is Waxing Crescent all week.
  • The Sun currently has 6 active regions and the sunspot number is 110.
  • There are no visible evening ISS passes this week.
    (For full details about ISS passes click this link: heavens-above-iss-passes to visit the heavens-above website. If you are not in Marlborough, please ensure that you set your location for the most accurate ISS timings).

Week of 12th June

  • Astronomical twilight does not end until July 21st.
  • Venus (mag -4.3) passes by M44, the Beehive Cluster, through the early part of this week. Look for the pair above the western horizon an hour or so after sunset.
  • As we approach the Summer Solstice, we enter noctilucent cloud season. Keep an eye out for these magnificent high altitude ‘night shining’ clouds above the northern horizon just after sunset and just before sunrise.
  • If you have a good low southern horizon, try this week’s observing challenge: find Antares, the red supergiant in Scorpio and then hunt down three globular clusters about 8° to the east, M19 (+6.8) 29 kly, NGC 6293 (+8.2) 31 kly, and the most distant of the three, NGC 6284 (+8.8) at about 50 thousand light years from Earth!
  • The Moon is New on Sunday.
  • The Sun currently has 7 active regions and the sunspot number is 116.
  • There are no visible evening ISS passes this week.
    (For full details about ISS passes click this link: heavens-above-iss-passes to visit the heavens-above website. If you are not in Marlborough, please ensure that you set your location for the most accurate ISS timings).

Week of 5th June

  • Astronomical twilight does not end until July 21st.
  • Venus (mag -4.3) continues to dominate our evening sky. Look about 27° above the western horizon at sunset, around 21:15 BST. The two bright stars to its west are Castor and Pollux.
  • Ophiuchus provides a rich observing ground this week, with three Messier Globular Clusters to find. Start with M12 at mag +6.7, then on to M10 (+6.6), both are about 14,000 light years away. Finally a little further east to M14, fainter at mag +7.6 as it is twice as far away at 30,000 light years.
  • The Moon is Last Quarter on Saturday.
  • The Sun currently has 7 active regions and the sunspot number is 112.
  • There are no visible evening ISS passes this week.
    (For full details about ISS passes click this link: heavens-above-iss-passes to visit the heavens-above website. If you are not in Marlborough, please ensure that you set your location for the most accurate ISS timings).

 

May 2023 – What’s Up!

Week of 29th May

  • Astronomical twilight does not end until July 21st.
  • Venus (mag -4.3) reaches Greatest Eastern Elongation on Sunday, when it will be at its furthest separation from the Sun. It is the brightest object (apart from the Moon and Sun!) in the west at sunset and is about 30° above the horizon.
  • SN 2023ixf is a new supernova in the galaxy M101 in Ursa Major, about 5° above Alkaid, the star at the end of the Saucepan’s handle. Discovered on 19th May 2023, it is still at peak brightness of about +11, but is expected to start to dim soon and fade away over the coming weeks. It should just be visible in a telescope.
  • The Moon is Full on Sunday – the Strawberry Moon.
  • The Sun currently has 7 active regions and the sunspot number is 125.
  • There are no visible evening ISS passes this week.
    (For full details about ISS passes click this link: heavens-above-iss-passes to visit the heavens-above website. If you are not in Marlborough, please ensure that you set your location for the most accurate ISS timings).

 

Week of 22nd May

  • Astronomical twilight ends at 00:47 BST at the beginning of the week, but from Wednesday onwards, astronomical twilight does not end until July 21st. This is because the Sun does not sink more than 18° below the northern horizon.
  • The waxing Crescent Moon will pass by Venus (mag -4.2) on Tuesday and Mars (+1.5) on Wednesday in the western evening sky.
  • Despite the temporary end of astronomical darkness, it is still dark enough to observe, though you can’t really start your session until around 23:00 BST. This week we are searching for three galaxies around The Plough. First is M51, the Whirlpool Galaxy (+7.9) a few degrees below the end of ‘the handle’, next is M81, Bode’s Nebula (+6.8) and finally, close neighbour M82, the Cigar Galaxy (+8.0), which are both above and west of ‘the pan’. The most distant is M51 at 28 million light years!
  • The Moon is First Quarter on Saturday.
  • The Sun currently has 8 active regions and the sunspot number is 138.
  • There are multiple visible evening ISS passes this week. Click this link to see full details on the heavens-above website: heavens-above-iss-passes. If you are not in Marlborough, please ensure that you set your location for the most accurate ISS timings.

 

Week of 15th May

  • Astronomical twilight ends at 23:55 BST at the beginning of the week and at 00:34 BST by the end of the week.
  • There is a close approach of the Waning Crescent Moon and Jupiter (mag -2.1) on Wednesday afternoon. **Take extreme care of the Sun if trying to spot this conjunction with binoculars or a telescope**. The two objects will be closest at about 15:05 BST. Look at an altitude of around 28° above the western horizon. From more northerly latitudes this will appear as a lunar occultation of Jupiter.
  • Venus (-4.2) will be at an altitude of 32° in the west at sunset, around 21:00 BST, throughout this week.
  • The New Moon makes conditions ideal for this week’s Deep Sky Challenge, which is a hunt for three globular clusters. First up is M3 (+6.2) in Canes Venatici, next slew south to Serpens to find M5 (+5.6) and finally west to find M13 (+5.8), the spectacular Great Hercules Cluster in Hercules. Good luck with your hunt!
  • The Moon is New on Friday.
  • The Sun currently has 9 active regions and the sunspot number is 120.
  • There are multiple visible evening ISS passes this week. Click this link to see full details on the heavens-above website: heavens-above-iss-passes. If you are not in Marlborough, please ensure that you set your location for the most accurate ISS timings.

Week of 8th May

  • Astronomical twilight ends at 23:24 BST at the beginning of the week and at 23:50 BST by the end of the week.
  • Venus has brightened slightly to magnitude -4.2 as it moves closer to Earth and increases in apparent size. It now appears about 18 arcseconds across and is at a distance of 0.9 AU. Look to the west in the evening sky to spot the ‘evening star’.
  • With the Waning Moon this week, darker skies allow fainter deep sky object hunting. This week’s challenge is the planetary Nebula M97, the Owl Nebula in Ursa Major. Located under the saucepan, close to the star Merak, it is a small and faint object at magnitude +9.8 and just 3.4 arcminutes in apparent size. You will need a telescope to spot the darker ‘eyes’ that give the nebulous remains of this exploded star its name.
  • The Moon is Last Quarter on Friday.
  • The Sun currently has 5 active regions and the sunspot number is 99.
  • There are multiple visible evening ISS passes this week. Click this link to see full details on the heavens-above website: heavens-above-iss-passes. If you are not in Marlborough, please ensure that you set your location for the most accurate ISS timings.

 

Week of 1st May

  • Astronomical twilight ends at 22:59 BST at the beginning of the week and at 23:20 BST by the end of the week.
  • Venus (mag -4.1) continues to dominate our evening sky in the west. Its waxing gibbous phase should be clearly visible in a small telescope.
  • The Eta Aquariid meteor shower peaks on Friday, but the Full Moon will drown out all but the very brightest meteors in visible wavelengths. Follow the Radio Meteor Detector live feed for your best chance to see a meteor. The parent body responsible for this shower is comet 1P/Halley.
  • The Moon is Full on Friday – the Flower Moon.
  • The Sun currently has 5 active regions and the sunspot number is 82.
  • There are no visible evening ISS passes this week.