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.

 

April 2023 – What’s Up!

Week of 24th April

  • Astronomical twilight ends at 22:37 BST at the beginning of the week and at 22:56 BST by the end of the week.
  • Venus (mag -4.1) will be at its highest altitude in our evening sky on Friday. Just after sunset, at 20:30 BST, it will be 33° above the western horizon.
  • This week’s Deep Sky Challenge is M104, a spectacular galaxy in the constellation of Virgo, the Sombrero Galaxy. It is a tough target to spot at mag +8 and is at quite a low altitude of only 26° when it culminates, but is well worth hunting down with a telescope. If you succeed, you will be viewing light that has taken 28 million years to reach you!
  • The Moon is First Quarter on Thursday.
  • The Sun currently has 6 active regions and the sunspot number is 87.
  • There are no visible evening ISS passes this week.

Week of 17th April

  • Astronomical twilight ends at 22:17 BST at the beginning of the week and at 22:34 BST by the end of the week.
  • As bright Venus (-4.1) sets in the west through this week, the New Moon gives perfect dark skies to go galaxy hunting. A telescope will be needed to track down ‘faint fuzzies’ in Leo, Virgo and Coma Berenices such as M87 (+8.7) or M104 (+8.1). For an easier target, try M3 (+6.2), a beautiful globular cluster a little further east in Canes Venatici.
  • There is a hybrid solar eclipse on Thursday, though it won’t be visible from Marlborough, only observers around Indonesia will be treated to this spectacle.
  • The Lyrid meteor shower peaks on Saturday night, but it is not a particularly productive shower, with only around 18 meteors per hour expected. It is noteworthy as one of the oldest recorded meteor showers, featuring in ancient Chinese texts from around 2500 years ago. The shower’s progenitor is comet C/1861 G1 (Thatcher).
  • The Moon is New on Thursday.
  • The Sun currently has 8 active regions and the sunspot number is 151.
  • There are no visible evening ISS passes this week.

Week of 10th April

  • Astronomical twilight ends at 21:59 BST at the beginning of the week and at 22:15 BST by the end of the week.
  • Mercury (mag -0.1) reaches Greatest Eastern Elongation on Tuesday, when it will be at its furthest separation from the Sun, appearing about 16° above the western horizon just after sunset.
  • Venus (-4.1) will appear next to the Pleiades (M45) on Tuesday, separated by just 2° from the Open Cluster, neatly fitting into the field of view of a pair of low power binoculars.
  • On Thursday, ESA’s JUICE mission is set to lift off from French Guiana at 12:15 UT. The Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer (JUICE) will take 8 years to reach the Jupiter system, where it will visit Callisto and Europa before entering a permanent orbit around Ganymede.
  • The Moon is Last Quarter on Thursday.
  • The Sun currently has 2 active regions and the sunspot number is 52.
  • There are no visible evening ISS passes this week.

Week of 3rd April

  • Astronomical twilight ends at 21:43 BST at the beginning of the week and at 21:57 BST by the end of the week.
  • Venus (mag -4.0) continues to dominate our early evening sky. It is at an altitude of about 29° above the western horizon just after sunset. A telescope will show Venus in its Gibbous phase.
  • Observing highlights this week will be affected by the bright Moon, but more westerly open clusters such as M48 in Hydra and M44 in Cancer are still worth hunting down with binoculars or a telescope.
  • The Moon is Full on Thursday – the Pink Moon.
  • The Sun currently has 8 active regions and the sunspot number is 23.
  • There is one visible evening ISS pass this week:
    Monday: 20:22 (-1.0) WSW, max 12°

 

March 2023 – What’s Up!

Week of 27th March

  • Astronomical twilight ends at 21:28 BST at the beginning of the week and at 21:41 BST by the end of the week.
  • Venus (mag -4.0) is bright and conspicuous in the evening twilight towards the western horizon at an altitude of around 25°, climbing ever higher through the week. It is followed by Mercury (-1.0) much closer to the horizon at around 8° altitude.
  • The Spring sky is dominated by the constellations of Leo and Virgo, home to a plethora of galaxies. Use a telescope to hunt down ‘faint fuzzies’ such as the Leo Triplet of galaxies and Messier 87, the giant elliptical galaxy Virgo A.
  • The Moon is First Quarter on Wednesday.
  • The Sun currently has 8 active regions and the sunspot number is 105.
  • There are multiple visible evening ISS passes this week as follows:
    Monday: 21:06 (-3.6) W to SE, max 60°
    Tuesday: 20:17 (-3.7) W to ESE, max 75° & 21:54 (-1.9) W to SW, max 23°
    Wednesday: 21:06 (-2.6) W to SSE, max 34°
    Thursday: 20:18 (-3.0) W to SE, max 46° & 21:56 (-1.1) WSW to SW, max 12°
    Friday: 21:07 (-1.5) W to S, max 18°
    Saturday: 20:18 (-1.9) W to SSE, max 25°

Week of 20th March

  • Astronomical twilight ends at 20:13 GMT at the beginning of the week and at 21:25 BST by the end of the week.
  • The Vernal or Spring Equinox occurs at 21:24 on Monday, 20th March. This is when the Sun crosses the celestial equator, heading from south to north. Day and night length are roughly equal at this time and it marks the start of spring in the northern hemisphere.
  • The dwarf planet, Ceres, reaches opposition on Tuesday. It will be hard to spot at mag +7.1 and apparent size of only 0.7 arcseconds, but with a telescope you should be able to identify Ceres in the constellation of Coma Berenices.
  • Daylight Savings Time or British Summer Time (BST) starts on Sunday at 01:00 GMT – don’t forget to move your clocks forward one hour to become 02:00 BST!
  • The Moon is New on Tuesday.
  • The Sun currently has 3 active regions and the sunspot number is 35.
  • There are multiple visible evening ISS passes this week as follows:
    Monday: 19:14 (-3.3) SW to E, max 44° & 20:50 (-2.4) W, max 38°
    Tuesday: 20:03 (-3.9) WSW to E, max 86° & 21:39 (-0.6) W, max 13°
    Wednesday: 19:15 (-3.8) WSW to E, max 73° & 20:52 (-2.7) W, max 45°
    Thursday: 20:04 (-3.8) W to E, max 84° & 21:41 (-0.7) W, max 14°
    Friday: 19:16 (-3.8) W to E, max 87° & 20:53 (-2.8) W, max 45°
    Saturday: 20:05 (-3.9) W to ESE, max 86° & 21:42 (-0.7) W, max 13°
    Sunday: 20:17 (-3.8) W to E, max 86° & 21:54 (-2.6) W to WSW, max 37°

Week of 13th March

  • Astronomical twilight ends at 20:00 GMT at the beginning of the week and at 20:11 GMT by the end of the week.
  • Venus (-4.0) is the brightest object in our evening sky this week. Look to the western horizon just after sunset. With binoculars or a small telescope you might be able to make out its gibbous phase.
  • As the Moon wanes and the sky remains dark, this is the perfect time to hunt for deep sky objects. For example, open clusters abound in the south, with M36, M37 and M38 in Auriga, M35 in Gemini and M44 in Cancer all excellent targets for binoculars or telescope. You could even attempt the full Messier Marathon over the weekend!
  • The Moon is Last Quarter on Wednesday.
  • The Sun currently has 10 active regions and the sunspot number is 126.
  • There are multiple visible evening ISS passes this week as follows:
    Thursday: 19:13 (-1.6) SSE to SE, max 11° & 20:47 (-0.9) SW to SW, max 11°
    Friday: 20:00 (-2.7) SW to S, max 30°
    Saturday: 19:12 (-2.4) SSW to ESE, max 23° & 20:48 (-1.9) WSW to WSW, max 26°
    Sunday: 20:00 (-3.7) WSW to ESE, max 58° & 21:37 (-0.5) W to W, max 10°

Week of 6th March

  • Astronomical twilight ends at 19:47 GMT at the beginning of the week and at 19:58 GMT by the end of the week.
  • Venus (-4.0) has now passed Jupiter (-2.1) and is the higher of the two conspicuous bright objects in the west around sunset. It will continue to rise higher and higher in our sky as it moves towards Greatest Eastern Elongation in June.
  • The opportunity to observe Jupiter is coming to an end as it sinks further west and ever closer to the Sun. By the end of the month it will be too low to observe easily, so look now before it is too late for this apparition. The planet will be back again in the autumn.
  • The Moon is Full on Tuesday – the Worm Moon.
  • The Sun currently has 8 active regions and the sunspot number is 122.
  • There are no visible evening ISS passes this week.

 

 

February 2023 – What’s Up!

Week of 27th February

  • Astronomical twilight ends at 19:34 GMT at the beginning of the week and at 19:45 GMT by the end of the week.
  • Venus (-4.0) and Jupiter (-2.1) finally meet this week, coming to within about half a degree of each other on Wednesday night. Look around 25° above the southwestern horizon just after sunset to see this close approach.
  • Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) is now a faint and receding fuzzy patch to the west of Orion. It is about mag +9.0 and approaching 1 AU away from Earth.
  • The Moon is First Quarter on Monday.
  • The Sun currently has 6 active regions and the sunspot number is 129.
  • There are no visible evening ISS passes this week.

Week of 20th February

  • Astronomical twilight ends at 19:22 GMT at the beginning of the week and at 19:33 GMT by the end of the week.
  • On Wednesday, the two day old Waxing Crescent Moon will appear between the planets Venus (-4.0) and Jupiter (-2.1). Look around 20° above the southwestern horizon just after sunset to see this beautiful alignment.
  • The Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) show is all but over as the comet dims, currently at mag +8, moving away from Earth, now around 0.75 AU away. It received a sufficient energy boost as it passed the Sun to mean that its orbit has become ‘weakly hyperbolic’ and it is destined to escape the solar system, never to be seen close to Earth again.
  • CPRE’s Star Count 2023 continues to run this week, ending on 24th February. Help to monitor levels of light pollution by counting the stars you can see in Orion – full details here: Star Count 2023
  • The Moon is New on Monday.
  • The Sun currently has 7 active regions and the sunspot number is 109.
  • There are no visible evening ISS passes this week.

Week of 13th February

  • Astronomical twilight ends at 19:11 GMT at the beginning of the week and at 19:21 GMT by the end of the week.
  • Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) is now passing through Taurus, heading towards Orion. It has dimmed to about mag +6.7. Take advantage of the waning Moon to spot the comet with binoculars in the darkness this week.
  • Three planets are in our evening sky, from west to east: Venus (-3.9) sets at about 19:45 UT, Jupiter (-2.1) sets at around 21:20 UT and Mars (+0.1) transits at around 19:20 UT.
  • Dark skies this week offer a great opportunity to explore Orion, with star birth in the Orion Nebula (M42), double star Alnitak, the easternmost star of Orion’s Belt, and a range of star colours in Betelgeuse, Rigel and Bellatrix.
  • CPRE’s Star Count 2023 launches this week, running from 17-24 February. Help to monitor levels of light pollution by counting the stars you can see in Orion – full details here: Star Count 2023
  • The Moon is Last Quarter on Monday.
  • The Sun currently has 12 active regions and the sunspot number is 209.
  • There are no visible evening ISS passes this week.

Week of 6th February

  • Astronomical twilight ends at 18:59 GMT at the beginning of the week and at 19:09 GMT by the end of the week.
  • Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) has passed perigee and is now heading away from Earth. It is decreasing in brightness, currently about mag +5.7. You will find the comet passing through Auriga into Taurus this week. The bright moonlight will hinder the view, so it will be easier to see later in the week, in the relative darkness before the Moon rises.
  • Mars (-0.1) is high in our evening sky, though steadily decreasing in apparent size. Jupiter (-2.2) is sinking ever closer to the western horizon, setting at around 21:30 UT this week. Venus (-3.9) is the ‘evening star’ appearing close to the southwestern horizon around sunset.
  • The Moon is Waning Gibbous all week.
  • The Sun currently has four active regions and the sunspot number is 66.
  • There are no visible evening ISS passes this week.

 

January 2023 – What’s Up!

Week of 30th January

  • Astronomical twilight ends at 18:48 GMT at the beginning of the week and at 18:58 GMT by the end of the week.
  • Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) reaches perigee, its closest approach to Earth on Thursday, when it will be about 0.28 AU away or approximately 42,500,000 km. Travelling at around 57 km/s with respect to the Earth, it is climbing ever higher above our northern horizon, starting the week near Polaris and by the end of the week it will have just passed the zenith to appear near to Capella in Auriga. It has reached a reported brightness of about magnitude +5.5. It could be visible by naked eye, but the bright moonlight will hinder our view. Search for the comet in binoculars or a telescope.
  • Mercury (-0.1) reaches Greatest Western Elongation on Monday, appearing a maximum of 10° above the southeastern horizon just before sunrise at 07:48 GMT. Take care of the rising Sun if looking for Mercury in binoculars or a telescope.
  • The Moon is Full on Sunday – the Snow Moon.
  • The Sun currently has six active regions and the sunspot number is 76.
  • There are multiple visible evening ISS passes this week as follows:
    Monday: 17:29 (-3.7) W to ESE, max 86° & 19:06 (-2.4) W to S, max 33°
    Tuesday: 18:17 (-2.8) W to SE, max 46° & 19:55 (-0.6) WSW to SW, max 12°
    Wednesday: 17:28 (-3.2) W to ESE, max 61° & 19:06 (-1.2) W to S, max 18°
    Thursday: 18:17 (-1.6) W to SSE, max 25°
    Saturday: 18:17 (-0.7) WSW to SSW, max 13°

Week of 23rd January

  • Astronomical twilight ends at 18:38 GMT at the beginning of the week and at 18:47 GMT by the end of the week.
  • Look out for Venus (mag -3.9) around sunset; it is increasing in altitude and can be seen approaching 15° above the southwestern horizon at about 17:00 GMT by the end of the week. It sets by about 18:45 GMT.
  • Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) is now around mag +6 and increasing in brightness, but is quite difficult to spot in the thicker atmosphere close to the northern horizon. It climbs ever higher this week and by Friday will be at an altitude of about 40°; look just to the east of star Kochab in Ursa Minor, binoculars will help, but it could reach naked eye visibility.
  • The Moon is First Quarter on Saturday.
  • The Sun currently has ten active regions and the sunspot number is 194.
  • There are multiple visible evening ISS passes this week as follows:
    Monday: 18:19 (-3.8) WSW to E, max 76° & 19:56 (-0.6) W, max 15°
    Tuesday: 17:30 (-3.5) WSW to E, max 61° & 19:07 (-3.0) W, max 52°
    Wednesday: 18:19 (-3.8) W to E, max 86° & 19:55 (-0.7) W, max 16°
    Thursday: 17:30 (-3.7) W to E, max 87° & 19:07 (-3.2) W, max 58°
    Friday: 18:18 (-3.8) W to E, max 87° & 19:55 (-0.8) W, max 17°
    Saturday: 17:30 (-3.8) W to E, max 84° & 19:06 (-3.2) W to SW, max 56°
    Sunday: 18:18 (-3.7) W to ESE, max 74° & 19:55 (-0.8) W to WSW, max 17°

Week of 16th January

  • Astronomical twilight ends at 18:29 GMT at the beginning of the week and at 18:37 GMT by the end of the week.
  • Mars (mag -0.6) and Jupiter (-2.3) continue to dominate our evening sky, but Jupiter is slipping ever further west and sets at around 22:30 GMT this week, so observe the planet while it is still well placed.
  • Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) is steadily brightening and is now about mag +6.6, close to naked eye visibility. It is low to the northern horizon in the evening, but should be easy to spot with binoculars, especially later in the night as it climbs in altitude.
  • On Sunday, Venus (-3.9) and Saturn (+0.8) will appear just under half a degree apart from each other, easily fitting in the same field of view through binoculars or a telescope. Look close to the southwestern horizon just after sunset.
  • The Moon is New on Saturday.
  • The Sun currently has nine active regions and the sunspot number is 170.
  • There are multiple visible evening ISS passes this week as follows:
    Tuesday: 18:21 (-1.4) S to SSE, max 13°
    Wednesday: 19:07 (-1.7) SW to SSW, max 22°
    Thursday: 18:19 (-2.5) SSW to SE, max 26° & 19:55 (-0.4) WSW to WSW max 12°
    Friday: 17:31 (-1.8) S to E, max 18° & 19:06 (-2.5) WSW to SW max 38°
    Saturday: 18:17 (-3.3) SW to ESE, max 47° & 19:54 (-0.5) W max 14°
    Sunday: 17:29 (-2.7) SW to E, max 34° & 19:05 (-2.9) W to WSW max 51°

 

Week of 9th January

  • Astronomical twilight ends at 18:20 GMT at the beginning of the week and at 18:27 GMT by the end of the week.
  • Lunar libration in latitude means that the southern polar region of the Moon is tilted favourably towards Earth, allowing a view of some craters that are not normally visible, such as Cabeus and Scott.
  • Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) continues to climb higher in the northeastern sky at magnitude +7. It is currently in Corona Borealis and will move into Bootes as the week progresses. Look low to the horizon with binoculars in the late evening to try and spot the comet.
  • The planets continue to cover our southern evening sky, with Venus (-3.9) visible close to the horizon in the west just after sunset, Saturn (+0.8) is now very low in the west and sets at 19:17, Jupiter (-2.3) dominates the western sky and Mars (-0.9) dominates the south. Mars appears to standstill on Thursday as its motion moves from retrograde to prograde, when it will appear to move eastwards again.
  • The Moon is Last Quarter on Sunday.
  • The Sun currently has five active regions: AR 3177, 3180, 3181, 3182 & 3183. The sunspot number is 104.
  • There are no visible evening ISS passes this week.

 

Week of 2nd January

  • Astronomical twilight ends at 18:13 GMT at the beginning of the week and at 18:19 GMT by the end of the week.
  • The Quadrantid Meteor Shower peaks in the early hours of Wednesday morning. It is one of the more spectacular showers of the year and can produce over 100 meteors per hour. However, this year the nearly Full Moon will block out all but the brightest. The shower’s parent body is asteroid 2003 EH1.
  • Earth reaches perihelion at 16:17 GMT on Wednesday, when it will be at its closest point to the Sun in its orbit at just 0.9833 AU away. What little Sun we see that day will be the largest in the sky of the year, but only by about 3%!
  • Look out for comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF), which reaches perihelion on Thursday. It is currently about mag +8.0 in the constellation of Corona Borealis, visible in binoculars in the northeast from about 01:00 GMT. It could brighten as an evening object as it heads north through January and into February.
  • The Moon is Full on Friday – the Wolf Moon. As the Moon will also be at apogee, its furthest orbital point from Earth, it will be the opposite of a ‘Supermoon’, a ‘Micromoon’.
  • The Sun currently has five active regions: AR 3173, 3176, 3177, 3179 & 3180. The sunspot number is 82.
  • There are no visible evening ISS passes this week.

 

December 2022 – What’s Up!

Week of 26th December

  • Astronomical twilight ends at 18:07 GMT at the beginning of the week and at 18:12 GMT by the end of the week.
  • Mercury (mag -0.1) will be at its highest point above our horizon on Monday evening, when it will reach an altitude of 9°. Look just after sunset in the southwest, where you will also find Venus (-3.9).
  • Catch Saturn (+0.8) before it is too late… the planet is ever lower to the western horizon in the early evening, setting at around 20:00 GMT. By the end of January it will no longer be visible in our evening sky.
  • Jupiter (-2.4) is still well placed in the early evening, setting at around 23:40 GMT and Mars (-1.3) is increasing in altitude, though dropping in apparent size (now about 15 arcseconds) following its opposition.
  • On Sunday, the Waxing Gibbous Moon will graze the planet Uranus (+5.7). Look between about 22:00 and 23:30 GMT to see the celestial alignment. From more northerly latitudes, the event will be an occultation.
  • The Moon is First Quarter on Friday.
  • The Sun currently has six active regions: AR 3168, 3169, 3171, 3172, 3173 & 3175. The sunspot number is 107.
  • There are no visible evening ISS passes this week.

Week of 19th December

  • Astronomical twilight ends at 18:03 GMT at the beginning of the week and at 18:07 GMT by the end of the week.
  • Mercury (mag -0.5) reaches Greatest Eastern Elongation on Wednesday, when it will be at its largest separation from the Sun in our sky. Look low in the south west just after sunset to spot the planet. Venus (-3.9) will be also visible, about 5° further west and closer to the horizon as it climbs higher in our evening sky over the coming weeks.
  • The Winter Solstice is on Wednesday, when the Sun will reach its most southerly point in the sky at a declination of -23.5°, appearing at a maximum altitude of just 15.5° at noon here in Marlborough. This is the shortest day of the year, with just under 8 hours of sunlight in the 24 hour day. Christmas borrows this date from the pagan mid-winter festival, though obviously falls a few days later on the 25th December. Happy Solstice / Christmas to you all!
  • The Ursid meteor shower peaks on Thursday. It is a relatively quiet shower, with a peak ZHR of just 10 meteors. It is caused by debris from comet 8P/Tuttle
  • The Moon is New on Friday.
  • The Sun currently has nine active regions: AR 3160, 3162, 3163, 3165, 3166, 3167, 3168, 3169 & 3170. The sunspot number is 139.
  • There are no visible evening ISS passes this week.

 

Week of 12th December

  • Astronomical twilight ends at 18:02 GMT at the beginning of the week and at 18:03 GMT by the end of the week.
  • The Geminid meteor shower runs from the 4th to 17th December, with its peak around 13:00 GMT on Wednesday. The shower is caused by debris deposited by asteroid 3200 Phaethon. It is one of the finest meteor showers of the year, with a Zenithal Hourly Rate of around 80-100 meteors. The Waning Gibbous Moon means the best observing prospects are before midnight on Tuesday and Wednesday.
  • The planets are wonderful evening objects with Saturn (mag +0.8) furthest west, followed by Jupiter (-2.5) in the south and Mars (-1.7) in the east. Neptune (+7.9) is just to the west of Jupiter and Uranus (+5.7) is about half way between Jupiter and Mars. Get out your binoculars or a telescope and try to find all five.
  • The Moon is Last Quarter on Friday.
  • The Sun currently has seven active regions: AR 3153, 3156, 3157, 3158, 3160, 3161 & 3162. The sunspot number is 111.
  • There are no visible evening ISS passes this week.

Week of 5th December

  • Astronomical twilight ends at 18:02 GMT at the beginning of the week and at 18:02 GMT by the end of the week.
  • There are two lunar occultations this week, the first is on Monday afternoon when Uranus (mag +5.7) will disappear behind the Moon at 16:46 UT and reappear at 17:18 UT. The second is on Thursday morning at 04:57 UT when Mars (-1.9) will be occulted by the Moon, reappearing at 05:59 UT.
  • Mars (-1.9) reaches opposition on Thursday, the point in its orbit when it will appear directly opposite the Sun from Earth. This is the best time to observe the planet as it appears at its brightest and largest in our sky. Its close proximity to Earth also makes this the ideal time to travel to Mars! It won’t be at opposition again until January 2027.
  • The Moon is Full on Thursday – the Cold Moon.
  • The Sun currently has five active regions: AR 3153, 3154, 3155, 3156 & 3157. The sunspot number is 68.
  • There are visible evening ISS passes this week as follows:
    Monday 5th: 16:50 (-2.7) W to SE, max 47° & 18:28 (-0.7) WSW to SSW, max 13°
    Tuesday 6th: 17:39 (-0.9) W to S, max 18°
    Wednesday 7th: 16:50 (-1.4) W to SSE, max 26°
    Friday 9th: 16:51 (-0.4) WSW to SSW, max 13°

 

 

November 2022 – What’s Up!

Week of 28th November

  • Astronomical twilight ends at 18:04 GMT at the beginning of the week and at 18:02 GMT by the end of the week.
  • Mars reaches perigee on Thursday when it will be at its closest point to Earth at just 0.54 AU away compared to its average distance of 1.52 AU. It will appear in the sky at an apparent size of 17.2 arcseconds and magnitude -1.8, much larger and brighter than its more normal apparent size of just 6 arcseconds and mag +0.7. Turn your binoculars or telescope to the planet for the best opportunity to spot the polar ice caps and surface features.
  • Both Saturn (+0.8) and Jupiter (-2.6) continue to dominate our southern evening sky.
  • The Moon is First Quarter on Wednesday.
  • The Sun currently has four active regions: AR 3147, 3149, 3151 & 3152. The sunspot number is 60.
  • There are visible evening ISS passes this week as follows:
    Monday 28th: 17:37 (-3.9) W to E, max 84° & 19:14 (-0.8) W, max 17°
    Tuesday 29th: 16:49 (-3.8) W to E, max 87° & 18:25 (-3.4) W to WSW, max 61°
    Wednesday 30th: 17:37 (-3.8) W to ESE, max 87° & 19:13 (-0.8) W, max 17°
    Thursday 1st: 16:48 (-3.8) W to E, max 86° & 18:25 (-3.0) W to SSW, max 46°
    Friday 2nd: 17:36 (-3.4) W to ESE, max 62° & 19:13 (-0.7) W to WSW, max 15°
    Saturday 3rd: 16:47 (-3.6) W to ESE, max 77° & 18:24 (-1.9) W to S, max 25°
    Sunday 4th: 17:35 (-2.3) W to SE, max 36°

Week of 21st November

  • Astronomical twilight ends at 18:09 GMT at the beginning of the week and at 18:05 GMT by the end of the week.
  • Three bright planets are currently the highlight of our evening sky: Saturn (mag +0.7), Jupiter (-2.7) and Mars (-1.6), which is increasingly well placed for observation as it moves towards opposition in December.
  • No Moon provides good dark skies to hunt out deep sky objects; great targets for telescope or binoculars include, from west to east: M15, a globular cluster in Pegasus, M31 (The Andromeda Galaxy) and double star Almach in Andromeda, open clusters NGC 457 (The Owl Cluster) in Cassiopeia, M34 in Perseus, M45 (The Pleiades) in Taurus and M36 in Auriga and finally, M1 (The Crab Nebula), a supernova remnant in Taurus.
  • The Moon is New on Wednesday.
  • The Sun currently has four active regions: AR 3147, 3148, 3149 & 3150. The sunspot number is 59.
  • There are visible evening ISS passes this week as follows:
    Monday 21st: 16:53 (-1.4) SSE to ESE, 12° & 18:27 (-2.8) SW to SSW, 40°
    Tuesday 22nd: 17:39 (-2.8) SW to ESE, 34° & 19:15 (-0.9) W, 18°
    Wednesday 23rd: 16:51 (-2.2) SSW to E, 25° & 18:27 (-3.4) WSW to SW, 61°
    Thursday 24th: 17:38 (-3.6) WSW to E, 60° & 19:15 (-0.9) W, 18°
    Friday 25th: 16:50 (-3.1) SW to E, 45° & 18:26 (-3.4) W, 64°
    Saturday 26th: 17:38 (-3.8) WSW to E, 86° & 19:14 (-0.8) W, 17°
    Sunday 27th: 16:49 (-3.6) WSW to E, 73° & 18:26 (-3.4) W to WNW, 62°

Week of 14th November

  • Astronomical twilight ends at 18:16 GMT at the beginning of the week and at 18:10 GMT by the end of the week.
  • The Leonid meteor shower peaks on Thursday night. It is not a particularly productive shower with a ZHR of only 13, but it can produce spectacularly energetic meteors as the shower producing debris from comet 55P/Tempel-Tuttle is orbiting in the opposite direction to the Earth. The Leonids can appear as an intense meteor storm, though this occurs roughly every 33 years and is not expected this year.
  • The planets continue to adorn our evening sky with, from east to west: Saturn (mag +0.7), Neptune (+7.9), Jupiter (-2.7), Uranus (+5.6) and the brightening Mars (-1.6) as it moves towards opposition in December.
  • The Moon is Last Quarter on Wednesday.
  • The Sun currently has three active regions: AR 3140, 3141 & 3145. The sunspot number is 65.
  • There are visible evening ISS passes this week as follows:
    Saturday: 18:28, SSW to S, max 21°
    Sunday: 17:40, S to SE, max 18° and 19:15, WSW, max 15°

Week of 7th November

  • Astronomical twilight ends at 18:24 GMT at the beginning of the week and at 18:17 GMT by the end of the week.
  • Following the recent solar eclipse, there is a lunar eclipse on Tuesday. Unfortunately, it will not be visible from the UK. You need to be in Oceania, the Americas, Asia or parts of Northern Europe to observe this eclipse. The next total lunar eclipse that we will see here in the UK is not until 31st December 2028.
  • Uranus (mag +5.6) reaches opposition on Wednesday. Find the Ice Giant in binoculars about half way between Jupiter (-2.7) and Mars (-1.4).
  • The Moon is Full on Tuesday.
  • The Sun currently has seven active regions: AR 3131, 3135, 3136, 3137, 3139, 3140 & 3141. The sunspot number is 82.
  • There are no visible evening ISS passes this week.

 

 

October 2022 – What’s Up!

Week of 31st October

  • Astronomical twilight ends at 18:35 GMT at the beginning of the week and at 18:26 GMT by the end of the week.
  • The waxing Moon passes close to Saturn (mag +0.7) on Tuesday evening and Jupiter (-2.8) on Friday evening.
  • Mars (-1.3) is now a bright feature in the eastern portion of our evening sky as it moves towards opposition on 8th December. It is sitting in the middle of the Winter Circle and shines a beautiful deep orange colour. The planet currently rises at around 18:30 GMT and transits at about 03:00 GMT.
  • The Moon is First Quarter on Tuesday.
  • The Sun currently has six active regions: AR 3130, 3131, 3132, 3133, 3134 & 3135. The sunspot number is 97.
  • There are no visible evening ISS passes this week.

 

Week of 24th October

  • Astronomical twilight ends at 19:47 BST at the beginning of the week and at 18:37 GMT by the end of the week
  • On Tuesday there is a partial solar eclipse, when the Moon will pass between the Sun and the Earth. The current orbital configuration means that the Moon will only cover a maximum of 13% of the Sun’s surface as observed from Marlborough. Head to northern Russia to observe the largest eclipse, which is still not total, but will reach 82%. For us, the eclipse will start at 10:06 BST, with maximum at 10:56 BST and final contact at 11:49 BST. If you try to observe the eclipse, NEVER LOOK DIRECTLY AT THE SUN without a suitable filter
  • British Summer Time ends on Sunday morning at 02:00 BST, when the clocks will go back one hour to 01:00 GMT
  • Observe five planets in our evening sky this week with Saturn (mag +0.6) furthest west, followed by Neptune (+7.8), Jupiter (-2.8), Uranus (+5.6) and finally Mars (-1.1), which rises in the east at around 20:00 BST
  • The Moon is New on Tuesday
  • The Sun currently has four active regions: AR 3126, 3127, 3128 & 3129. The sunspot number is 55
  • There are no visible evening ISS passes this week

Week of 17th October

  • Astronomical twilight ends at 20:01 BST at the beginning of the week and at 19:49 BST by the end of the week
  • On Wednesday evening, there will be a double shadow transit across the face of Jupiter (mag -2.9). The shadows of moons Ganymede and Europa will be visible on the planet’s disk as darkness falls. Ganymede will already have completed its transit, while its shadow will leave the disk at 20:03 BST. Europa’s transit ends at 19:40 BST and its shadow transit will end at 20:49
  • Friday sees the peak of the Orionids meteor shower. It is not a very productive shower with a ZHR of only around 15. The parent body responsible for creating the Orionids is comet 1P/Halley
  • The Moon is Last Quarter on Monday
  • The Sun currently has four active regions: AR 3119, 3121, 3122 & 3123. The sunspot number is 50
  • There are no visible evening ISS passes this week

 

Week of 10th October

  • Astronomical twilight ends at 20:15 BST at the beginning of the week and at 20:03 BST by the end of the week
  • The Waning Moon makes its way eastwards through our sky this week, passing Uranus (mag +5.7) on Tuesday and Mars (-0.9) on Friday
  • On Tuesday evening there is a transit of Io across the face of Jupiter (-2.9). The transit starts at 19:18 BST as darkness falls and continues until 21:33 BST when Io will leave the planet’s disk. Io’s shadow will still be visible on Jupiter for a little longer, not leaving the disk until 21:57 BST. As the transit ends, the Great Red Spot will be emerging into view around Jupiter’s oncoming limb
  • The Moon is Waning Gibbous all week
  • The Sun currently has seven active regions: AR 3111, 3112, 3115, 3116, 3118, 3119 & 3120. The sunspot number is 137
  • There are no visible evening ISS passes this week

Week of 3rd October

  • Astronomical twilight ends at 20:31 BST at the beginning of the week and at 20:18 BST by the end of the week
  • The Gas Giants continue to dominate our evening sky, with Saturn (mag +0.5) culminating around 21:35 BST this week and Jupiter (-2.9) culminating at 00:20 BST. The waxing Moon makes a close approach to Saturn on Wednesday and Jupiter on Saturday
  • Mercury is also visible in our skies this week, but only for the early risers. It reaches Greatest Western Elongation on Saturday when it will reach its furthest separation from the Sun and be highest in our morning sky. Look to the eastern horizon just before sunrise at an altitude of around 12°
  • The Moon is First Quarter on Monday and Full on Sunday – the Hunter’s Moon
  • The Sun currently has six active regions: AR 3107, 3110, 3111, 3112, 3113 & 3114. The sunspot number is 100
  • The ISS makes the following visible evening passes this week:
    Monday 19:30, W to SSE, max 27°
    Wednesday 19:31, WSW to S, max 14°

 

 

September 2022 – What’s Up!

Week of 26th September

  • Astronomical twilight ends at 20:49 BST at the beginning of the week and at 20:34 BST by the end of the week
  • Jupiter reaches opposition on Monday, the point in its orbit when it will be opposite the Sun from Earth. This is the best time to view the planet as it will appear largest and brightest in our sky as it is also at perigee, its point of closest approach to Earth. Jupiter will be 3.95 AU (591 million km) from Earth (its closest in 59 years!), with an apparent size of 49 arcseconds and a magnitude of -2.9. Look for the brightest object in our southern sky at an altitude of about 38° by midnight
  • The two lunar clair-obscur effects known as the lunar X and V will be visible in the early evening of Sunday, look along the terminator to find them. They are caused by sunlight catching certain parts of crater edges and higher regions
  • The Moon is Waxing Crescent all week
  • The Sun currently has six active regions: AR 3102, 3105, 3107, 3108, 3109 & 3110. The sunspot number is 128
  • The ISS makes the following visible evening passes this week:
    Monday 20:19, W to ESE, max 87° and 21:56, W, max 16°
    Tuesday 19:30, W to E, max 86° and 21:07, W to SW, max 43°
    Wednesday 20:18, W to SE, max 62° and 21:56, W to WSW, max 12°
    Thursday 19:30, W to ESE, max 77° and 21:07, W to SW, max 25°
    Friday 20:18, W to SSE, max 36°
    Saturday 19:29, W to SE, max 49° and 21:07, WSW to SW, max 13°
    Sunday 20:17, W to S, max 19°

Week of 19th September

  • Astronomical twilight ends at 21:07 BST at the beginning of the week and at 20:51 BST by the end of the week
  • The Autumn Equinox occurs at 01:58 BST on Friday. This is the point when the Sun crosses the celestial equator decreasing in declination. As the name suggests, we will enjoy an almost exactly equal day and night length of 12 hours and the event marks the start of autumn for the northern hemisphere. The Sun will rise due East and set due West, one of only two days in the year when this happens
  • Jupiter is brilliant in our evening and night sky at magnitude -2.9, outshone only by the Moon. This is an excellent time to observe the planet as it moves towards opposition. Use binoculars or a telescope to observe surface detail on the planet and enjoy the dance of its four Galilean moons as they orbit. Jupiter currently rises at around 19:15 BST, culminates at around 01:30 BST, reaching a maximum altitude of about 39°, and sets by about 07:30 BST
  • The Moon is New on Sunday
  • The Sun currently has three active regions: AR 3100, 3102 & 3103. The sunspot number is 76
  • The ISS makes the following visible evening passes this week:
    Monday 21:09, WSW to SE, max 76°
    Tuesday 20:21, WSW to E, max 60° and 21:57, W, max 26°
    Wednesday 21:09, W to ENE, max 86°
    Thursday 20:20, WSW to E, max 86° and 21:57, W, max 24°
    Friday 19:31, S to WSW to E, max 73° and 21:08, W to NW, max 85°
    Saturday 20:20, W to E, max 84° and 21:56, W, max 21°
    Sunday 19:31, W to E, max 87° and 21:08, W to WSW, max 67°

Week of 12th September

  • Astronomical twilight ends at 21:26 BST at the beginning of the week and at 21:09 BST by the end of the week
  • Neptune reaches opposition on Friday, when it lies opposite the Sun in the sky and will be at perigee, the closest point to Earth in its orbit. It is magnitude +7.8, so binoculars or a telescope will be required to observe the planet. Find it about 10° west of Jupiter in the south. It culminates at around 01:00 BST, so is well placed through the late evening
  • The planets are dominating our southern evening sky with Saturn (+0.4) furthest west, followed by Neptune (+7.8), Jupiter (-2.9), Uranus (+5.7) and finally Mars (-0.4) which rises at around 22:00 BST
  • The Moon is Last Quarter on Saturday
  • The Sun currently has eight active regions: AR 3092, 3094, 3096, 3097, 3098, 3099, 3100 & 3101. The sunspot number is 122
  • The ISS makes the following visible evening passes this week:
    Thursday 21:10, SSW to S, max 19°
    Friday 20:22, S to ESE, max 18° and 21:58, WSW, max 16°
    Saturday 21:09, SW to S, max 46°
    Sunday 20:21, SW to E, max 34° and 21:57, W, max 25°

 

Week of 5th September

  • Astronomical twilight ends at 21:46 BST at the beginning of the week and at 21:29 BST by the end of the week
  • Unfortunately, NASA’s attempted launch of Artemis 1 was not successful last week and further launch attempts are not likely until next month at the earliest
  • The waxing Gibbous Moon will make a close approach to Saturn (+0.4) on Thursday, when they will be separated by just 6°. Jupiter (-2.9) is rising ever higher in our evening sky, while Neptune (+7.8) lies to its west and Uranus (+5.7) to the east. Mars (-0.2) is now rising at around 22:30 BST as it moves towards opposition in December
  • The Moon is Full on Saturday – the Harvest Moon
  • The Sun currently has four active regions: AR 3089, 3092, 3093 & 3094. The sunspot number is 68
  • There are no visible evening ISS passes this week

 

August 2022 – What’s Up!

Week of 29th August

  • Astronomical twilight ends at 22:07 BST at the beginning of the week and at 21:49 BST by the end of the week
  • On Monday, NASA are set to launch Artemis 1, the unmanned test flight for the return to the Moon mission. Lift off is scheduled for 12:33 UT and the mission is due to last 42 days. The Orion crew capsule will orbit the Moon for a week, approaching to about 62 miles of the lunar surface. Follow the mission’s progress online
  • Planets Saturn (+0.3), Jupiter (-2.9) and Mars (-0.1) are lining up across our night sky. Little moonlight makes this week a perfect time to observe them
  • The Moon is First Quarter on Saturday
  • The Sun currently has five active regions: AR 3085, 3086, 3087, 3088 & 3089. The sunspot number is 84
  • There are no visible evening ISS passes this week

Week of 22nd August

  • Astronomical twilight ends at 22:28 BST at the beginning of the week and at 22:10 BST by the end of the week
  • Minor planet 4 Vesta reaches opposition on Tuesday. It can be found about 10° above the southeastern horizon at around 23:00 BST between Aquarius and Capricorn. It presents an observing challenge at magnitude +6.0, but repeated observations through the week to see its movement against the background stars will confirm your observation
  • Saturn (+0.3) and Jupiter (-2.8) are visible in our evening sky, with Mars (0.0) not far behind, rising at around 23:00 BST
  • The Moon is New on Saturday
  • The Sun currently has four active regions: AR 3078, 3081, 3082 & 3084. The sunspot number is 56
  • There are no visible evening ISS passes this week

Week of 15th August

  • Astronomical twilight ends at 22:51 BST at the beginning of the week and at 22:32 BST by the end of the week
  • The Gas Giants, Saturn and Jupiter, are in our evening sky now, with Saturn culminating at 01:16 BST and Jupiter rising at 21:49 BST. Look in the southeastern sky to spot the two planets
  • Mars is further East, rising at 23:30 BST
  • The Moon is Last Quarter on Friday
  • The Sun currently has eight active regions: AR 3071, 3074, 3076, 3077, 3078, 3079, 3080 & 3081. The sunspot number is 116
  • There are no visible evening ISS passes this week

Week of 8th August

  • Astronomical twilight ends at 23:16 BST at the beginning of the week and at 22:55 BST by the end of the week
  • The Perseid meteor shower peaks on Friday. Under dark skies the Perseids can produce around 100 meteors per hour, but this year the Full Moon coincides with the peak and will drown out all but the brightest meteors, so expect a much lower ZHR. The Perseids are caused by Earth passing through debris deposited by comet 109P/Swift-Tuttle
  • Saturn reaches opposition on Sunday, the point in its orbit when it lies directly opposite the Sun from Earth. It will appear larger and brighter than usual at 18.8 arcseconds and magnitude +0.3, making this the best time to observe the planet
  • The Moon is Full on Friday
  • The Sun currently has five active regions: AR 3068, 3071, 3072, 3073 & 3074. The sunspot number is 69
  • There are no visible evening ISS passes this week

Week of 1st August

  • Astronomical twilight ends at 23:43 BST at the beginning of the week and at 23:20 BST by the end of the week
  • As Saturn approaches opposition on the 14th August, this is a good time to start observing the ringed gas giant. It rises at around 21:15 BST and culminates at around 02:00 BST, so is well placed for evening observing in our southeastern sky. It is quite low to the horizon at around 16°. Note how the rings appear to brighten each night as it approaches opposition
  • The Moon is First Quarter on Friday
  • The Sun currently has two active regions: AR 3062 & 3068. The sunspot number is 27
  • There are no visible evening ISS passes this week

 

July 2022 – What’s Up!

Week of 25th July

  • Astronomical twilight ends at 00:22 BST at the beginning of the week and at 23:47 BST by the end of the week
  • The Southern Delta Aquariid meteor shower peaks at the end of this week on Friday night. The shower’s ZHR is around 20 meteors per hour. This week’s dark skies will be favourable for spotting meteors. The radiant is close to the star Skat, Delta Aquarii, which is low to our southeastern horizon. The shower is caused by debris left by comet P/2008 Y12 (SOHO)
  • With little moonlight this week, it is an ideal time to observe double stars. Two interesting targets are in the Summer Triangle: Albireo, the beak of Cygnus the Swan, is an easily split beautiful indigo and gold double, while Epsilon Lyrae is a fascinating and more challenging multiple star system consisting of two double stars, hence its popular name the Double Double
  • The Moon is New on Thursday
  • The Sun currently has seven active regions: AR 3057, 3059, 3060, 3062, 3063, 3064 & 3065. The sunspot number is 96
  • There are visible evening ISS passes this week as follows:
    Monday: 22:17, W to SE, max 52° & 23:54, WSW to SW, max 14°
    Tuesday: 23:06, W to SSW, max 21°
    Wednesday: 22:17, W to SSE, max 29°
    Friday: 22:17, WSW to S, max 15°

Week of 18th July

  • Astronomical Darkness returns on the 21st July when astronomical twilight ends at 00:59 BST, with darkness lasting for 29 minutes. By the end of the week astronomical twilight ends at 00:29 BST and astronomical darkness will last for about an hour and a half
  • On Wednesday, the dwarf planet Pluto reaches opposition. It is in the constellation of Sagittarius and lies about 13° above the southern horizon. It is very faint at only magnitude +14, making photography the best method of observation
  • Saturn (mag +0.5) is visible in our evening sky, rising at 22:15 BST and lying about 15° above the southeastern horizon around midnight
  • The Moon is Last Quarter on Wednesday
  • The Sun currently has seven active regions: AR 3053, 3055, 3056, 3057, 3058, 3059 & 3060. The sunspot number is 153
  • There are visible evening ISS passes this week as follows:
    Monday: 23:06, W to E, max 84°
    Tuesday: 22:17, W to E, max 89° & 23:54, W to ESE, max 78°
    Wednesday: 23:06, W to E, max 89°
    Thursday: 22:17, W to E, max 85° & 23:54, W to S, max 50°
    Friday: 23:06, W to ESE, max 65°
    Saturday: 22:17, W to ESE, max 80° & 23:54, W to SW, max 27°
    Sunday: 23:05, W to SSE, max 38°

Week of 11th July

  • Astronomical twilight does not end until 21st July
  • On Wednesday, the Moon will reach its Full phase shortly after passing perigee, making it a ‘supermoon’, the popular term for a Full Moon when the Moon is at a closer point to Earth in its elliptical orbit. Whilst the Moon will appear slightly larger and slightly brighter than normal, the difference is barely perceptible. What will be noticeable are the spring tides that will be particularly high for a few days around the Full Moon.
  • The Moon is Full on Wednesday – the Buck Moon
  • The Sun currently has five active regions: AR 3046, 3051, 3052, 3053 & 3055. The sunspot number is 89
  • There are visible evening ISS passes this week as follows:
    Monday: 22:20, SSE to ESE, max 11° & 23:54, SW to E, max 43°
    Tuesday: 23:06, SW to E, max 31°
    Wednesday: 22:18, SSW to E, max 22° & 23:54, WSW to E, max 71°
    Thursday: 23:06, WSW to E, max 55°
    Friday: 22:18, SW to E, max 41° & 23:54, W to E, max 88°
    Saturday: 23:06, WSW to E, max 83°
    Sunday: 22:17, WSW to E, max 69° & 23:54, W to E, max 85°

Week of 4th July

  • Astronomical twilight does not end until 21st July
  • The Earth reaches aphelion on Monday, the furthest point from the Sun in its annual orbit at a distance of 1.0167 AU. The elliptical orbit of the Earth sees a 3% variance over the year, but despite the Sun being at its smallest in the sky and Earth receiving the lowest amount of radiation, the difference is imperceptible to most of us
  • Saturn (magnitude +0.5) is now an evening object, rising at 23:15 BST on Monday. Jupiter (-2.5) and Mars (+0.4) are not too far behind, both visible in the southeast soon after midnight
  • The Moon is First Quarter on Thursday
  • The Sun currently has four active regions: AR 3040, 3046, 3047 & 3048. The sunspot number is 57
  • There are visible evening ISS passes this week as follows:
    Saturday: 23:59, ESE to E, max 17°
    Sunday: 23:11, ESE to E, max 12°