2007 – What’s Up

Week of 31st December

 

  • The Moon is waning and will be last Quarter on 31st December
  • The Sun remains blank
  • Comet 8P/Tuttle makes a close approach of 24 million miles to the Earth after a 13.6 year absence at the start of the week. It is just naked eye visibility and is an easy emerald coloured blur in binoculars just west of Comet Holmes between it and M31
  • One of the most prolific annual meteor showers peaks in the early hours of 4th January. the Quadrantids are named after the now abandoned constellation Quadrans Muralis (now part of Bootes). The radiant will be high in the northern sky on Thursday evening
  • There are no evening ISS passes but there is one superbright evening Iridium flare on Saturday 5th at 18.37.56, 42 degrees altitude in NNE

 

Week of 24th December

 

  • The Moon will be Full (Wolf Moon) on Christmas Eve
  • Mars will be at Opposition on Christmas Eve and within a degree of the Moon
  • The Sun is blank again
  • There are no ISS passes this week
  • There are two bright evening Iridium flares on Thursday at 17.27.59, 61 degrees in NE and on Friday at 17.21.52, 61 degrees altitude in NE

 

Week of 17th December

 

  • The Moon will be First Quarter on Thursday
  • The Winter Solstice occurs on Saturday at 6.08 am, the Sun will rise and set at its most southern point on the horizon and then the days will start to lengthen
  • Mars reaches its closest point to the Earth on Wednesday
  • The large group of sunspots 978 is breaking up
  • The ISS makes passes as follows: Monday 17.40.40 W to SE. Tuesday 16.26.47 W to E and 18.01.52 W to SSE. Wednesday 16.47.50 W to ESE and 18.23.20 WSW to S. Thursday 17.08.51 W to SE. Friday 17.30.12 W to S. Saturday 16.15.41 W to SE and Sunday 16.36.50 W to SSE
  • There are no bright evening Iridium flares this week

 

Week of 10th December

 

  • The Moon is New at the start of the week and will wax to first Quarter on Saturday
  • The Geminid meteor shower peaks in the early hours of Friday 14th. Often this shower, which is relatively recent compared to the Perseids for example, is a good shower to observe and appears to be increasing in activity, with up to 100 per hour rates possible. This year the lack of Moonlight will aid observation. The Geminids are unusual in that unlike all other major meteor showers, the debris stream does not arise from a Comet but from an asteroid (3200 Phaethon)
  • The Sun may be more active this week with the appearance of one of the largest spots this year (978)
  • This is a week of ISS passes as folows: On Monday at 16.46.33 SW to E and 18.21.12 SW to E. On Tuesday at 17.07.52 WSW to E. Thursday 17.50.51 W to E. Friday 16.37.19 WSW to E. Saturday 16.58.46 W to E and 18.33.48 W to W and Sunday 17.20.12 W to ESE
  • There is a rare maximum brightness Iridium flare to be seen on Monday at 16.58.04, 65 degrees altitude in ENE

 

Week of 3rd December

 

  • The Moon is waning and will be New at the start of next week
  • The Sun is blank again
  • The ISS is back at the end of the week with increasingly good passes as follows: On Wednesday at 18.29.49 from SW to SSW. Friday at 17.17.30 from S to ESE. Saturday at 17.38.16 from SW to ESE and Sunday at 17.59.34 from WSW to SSE
  • There is one bright Iridium flare on Saturday at 17.10.18 at 64 degrees altitude in NE

 

Week of 26th November

 

  • The Moon is now waning and will be last Quarter on Saturday, when it will pass 2 degrees from Saturn. On Friday the Moon will be less than a degree from Regulus (alpha Leo). A the temperature falls, keep an eye out for Lunar Halos, caused by ice particles high in the atmosphere
  • The Sun has one tiny spot 975
  • Comet 17/P Holmes is still visible but fading and will be affected by the Moon light this week
  • There are no ISS passes, but 2 superbright Iridium flares will be worth trying to catch; On Tuesday at 18.08.41 at 47 degrees altitude in NNE and on Wednesday at 18.02.31, 49 degrees altitude in NE

 

Week of 19th November

 

  • As of last Thursday the Sun is no longer the largest object (diameter) in the Solar System ! The envelope of debris from Comet Holmes has now expanded to more than 1.4 million km. Due to the incredibly low density of matter however, in terms of mass, it is like comparing a bag of sugar to the Earth. The comet has now moved significantly towards alpha Persei, closing the triangle of last week. It will pass in front of the brightest star in Perseus (Mirphak) on Tuesday
  • The Moon is waxing and will be Full (Frosty Moon) on Saturday
  • The Sun has one tiny spot 974, the first for some time
  • Mars rises around 7pm in NE brilliant orange
  • There are no ISS passes this week but there is one superbright Iridium flare on Monday at 16.52.39 at 68 degrees in NE

 

Week of 12th November

 

  • The Moon is Waxing and will be First Quarter next Saturday
  • The Sun is blank
  • Comet Holmes is dimming and is less spherical being more ‘jelly fish’ in shape
  • There are no ISS passes and no bright Iridium flares this week

 

Week of 5th November

 

  • The Moon is waning and will be New on Friday
  • The exploding comet 17/P Holmes continues to expand and appears currently to be 2/3 of the size of the Full Moon (though only visible as such through a telescope as it is dimming and the outer parts of the Coma are too dim to see by eye)
  • If the sky is clear watch out for late Taurids
  • The Sun is blank again
  • The Winter sky is coming into its own with Orion up by 10pm. Mars is now really bright and orange in the North East smack in the middle of Gemini late evening
  • The ISS makes no evening passes this week
  • There are no bright evening Iridium flares

 

Week of 29th October

 

  • The Moon is waning and will be Last Quarter on Thursday
  • Comet 17P/Holmes which is normally too dim for even large telescopes has brightened to naked eye visibility (comparable to stars in the Plough) and appears to be exploding, showing a disc in small telescopes. It can be found as an extra ‘star’ in Perseus just North and below alpha Persei (Mirfak)
  • The Taurid meteor shower peaks on Saturday. The debris from 2P/Encke often produces slow bright meteors and a number of fireballs
  • The Sun remains blank but active prominences have been in evidence on the western limb
  • There are no ISS passes this week
  • There is one superbright Iridium flare on Friday at 18.27.51, 44 degrees altitude in NNE

 

Week of 22nd October

 

  • Note GMT (BST-1) starts next Sunday morning
  • The Moon is waxing and will be Full (Hunters Moon) on Friday
  • The Sun remains blank
  • Watch out for late Orionid meteors at the start of the week
  • Comet 2007 F1 LONEOS is brightening to a naked-eye object. Scan south and west of Arcturus low near the horizon after sunset
  • The winter asterisms are rising mid evening, heralded by the Pleisades (M45) and followed by Aldeberan and the Hyades and then from around 10.30pm Orion
  • The ISS makes 1 more pass on Tuesday at 18.13.20 W to SSE
  • There are 2 superbright Iridium flares: On Tuesday at 18.23.58 at 66 degrees altitude in NNE and on Wednesday at 18.17.51 at 67 degrees altitude in NNE

 

Week of 15th October

 

  • The Moon is now waxing and will be First Quarter on Friday
  • The Orionid meteor shower peaks on Saturday, though rates are usually below 20 per hour. This is debris from Halley’s comet
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  • The pre-dawn eastern sky has a beutiful triangle with bright corners of Venus, Saturn and Regulus in that order, with Saturn being yellower

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  • The Sun is blank again
  • There is a new comet brightening but very low in the West after sunset, below the ‘Saucepan’ of UMa. LONEOS (C/2007 F1) will brighten to naked eye visibility (just) by the end of the month
  • The ISS is visible this week as follows: Monday at 19.54.18 W to SE. Tuesday 18.42.20 W to E and 20.17.28 W to WSW. Wednesday 19.05.27 W to ESE and 20.40.48 W to WSW. Thursday 19.28.35 W to SE. Friday 18.16.31 W to ESE and 19.51.51 W to S. Saturday 18.39.36 W to SE and 20.15.59 WSW to SSW and Sunday 19.02.50 W to SSE

 

Week of 8th October

 

  • The Moon is waning and will be New on 11th. This Sunday morning the Moon will pass in front of Regulus (alpha Leo) from 6.15 till 6.50 BST, this will be the brightest star occultation till 2015
  • Mars is rising around 22.00 and is well placed by midnight in SE. Saturn, Venus and the old Moon are nicely gathered at the start of the week in the morning sky
  • The Sun has one growing spot 972
  • Venus is now so bright that it can be spotted by eye in daylight near the crescent Moon in the early morning sky at the start of the week
  • The ISS may be seen this week: Monday at 20.21.59 from WSW to SSW. Tuesday at 19.10.30 SW to E. Wednesday at 19.33.25 WSW to E. Thursday at 20.56.35 W to E. Friday at 20.19.48 W to W and Saturday at 19.07.54 W to E
  • There are no bright iridium flares this week

 

Week of 1st October

 

  • The Moon is waning and will be Last Quarter on Wednesday
  • The Sun has one tiny sunspot 971
  • Mars is brightening and will be 5 degrees south of the Moon on Tuesday
  • The ISS returns to our evening skies at the end of the week with passes on Saturday at 19.36.46 S to SE and Sunday at 19.59.08 SW to SE
  • There are no evening Iridium flares

 

Week of 24th September

 

  • The Moon is waxing and will be Full (Harvest Moon) on Wednesday
  • The Sun has now been blank for 14 consecutive days, though prominence activity continues at the limb
  • Uranus is just 2 degrees south of the Moon on Tuesday but will be lost in its glare and certainly its colour will not be so vivid
  • There are no evening ISS passes and no bright evening Iridium flares

 

Week of 17th September

 

  • The Moon is waxing and will be First Quarter on Wednesday
  • The Sun is totally blank again
  • There are no ISS evening passes and no bright Iridium flares

 

Week of 10th September

 

  • The Moon will be New on Tuesday
  • The Sun is blank again
  • Venus is at maximum brightness in the pre-dawn sky in the East
  • There are no evening ISS passes and no bright Iridium flares

 

Week of 3rd September

 

  • The Moon is waning and will be Last Quarter on Tuesday when Mars will be 6 degrees south of the Moon
  • The Sun has a growing spot 969 and another emerging spot, so activity may increase
  • Mars is coming closer over the next few montrhs till Opposition on Christmas Eve. However, it will be neither as close or bright as in 2005 nor 2003 Oppositions. The next spectacular Opposition will not occur till 2018
  • There are no ISS passes or bright Iridium flares this week

 

Week of 27th August

 

  • The Moon will be Full on Tuesday (Corn Moon)
  • The Sun has one spot 969 but it is only weakly active
  • There are no ISS passes this week and no bright Iridium flares

 

Week of 20th August

 

  • The Moon is waxing and will be First Quarter on Tuesday. On Wednesday the Moon will be just South of Antares and Jupiter
  • The Sun is blank again
  • There are nop ISS passes this week, but there are 3 bright evening Iridium flares: Wednesday at 23.38.34, 16 degrees altitude in W. Thursday at 23.41.41, 14 degrees in W and Friday 23.44.50, 12 degrees in W

 

Week of 13th August

 

  • The Perseids peak at 3am Monday morning but will still be worth watching for the first few days of the week
  • The New Moon is unlikely to be visible till Tuesday, very low just after sunset, due West around 20.40.
  • The Sun still has one tiny inactive spot 966
  • The ISS continues to make evening passes and is currently larger due to the docked Shuttle ‘Endeavour’: Monday at 22.26.07, W to SSE. Tuesday 21.13.33, W to ESE and 22.48.51 W to SW/ Wednesday 21.36.06 W to SE. Thursday 21.58.47 W to S and Saturday 21.08.37 W to SSE
  • There is one superbright Iridium flare on Tuesday at 20.40.13 in E at 74 degrees altitude

 

Week of 6th August

 

  • The Moon is waning and will be New at the start of next week
  • The highlight of the week is the approach of the Perseid meteor shower maximum(debris from comet Swift-Tuttle). Early Persieds can already be seen and rates should build up to around 80 per hour. This year the shower is very well placed at New Moon. The official peak is at 3am on Monday 13th, but good rates can often beseen on days either side of this, so look out (by naked eye) as the weather allows. The radiant in Perseus is about a hand’s width down from the left hand edge of the W of Cassiopeia. The best directions to look are 45 degrees to the North and South of this.
  • The Sun is very quiet, though a small spot 966 is emerging on the eastern limb
  • Perseid viewers will also be treated to some really good ISS passes (every evening) as follows: On Monday at 22.57.55 W to E. Tuesday 21.45.37 WSW to E and 23.20.40 W to NE. Wednesday at 22.08.16 W to E and 23.43.24 W to W. Thursday at 22.30.59 W to E. Friday 21.18.34 and 22.53.40 W to SE. Saturday 21.41.16 W to E and 23.16.24 W to WSW and Sunday at 22.03.27 W to ESE
  • There is one superbright Iridium flare on Tuesday at 21.13.18 66 degrees altitude in ENE

 

Week of 30th July

 

  • The Moon will be Full (Thunder Moon)on Monday and will wane to Last Quarter next Sunday
  • The Sun has one new tiny spot which should grow during the week
  • Jupiter continues to dominate the Southern sky
  • The ISS returns to the evening skies: On Thursday at 23.02.20 from SW to SW, on Friday at 21.50.55 from SSW to E and 23.24.51 WSW to SW, On Saturday at 22.12.51 SW to E and 23.47.35 from W to E and Sunday at 22.35.20 WSW to E. The start of next week will see the best passes
  • There is one superbright Iridium flare to watch out for: on Tuesday at 21.46.21, 57 degrees altitude in ENE

 

Week of 23rd July

 

  • The Moon will wax until Full at the start of next week
  • The Sun is again blank
  • Jupiter will be close to the Moon on Wednesday and red giant Antares less than a degree away from the Moon
  • There are no evening ISS passes this week, but there is one superbright Iridium flare to watch out for on Wednesday at 22.13.17, 49 degrees altitude in NE

 

Week of 16th July

 

  • The Moon is waxing and will be First Quarter next Sunday
  • The week starts with Venus, Saturn and the Moon close in the West after sunset
  • The Sun has a couple of active sunspot regions
  • There are no ISS passes this week. However, there is a bright Iridium flare to look out for, on Thursday at 22.40.11 at 40 degrees in NE

 

Week of 9th July

 

  • The moon is waning and will be New next week-end, though probably not visible till 9.20pm on Monday week
  • The Sun has a new active spot 963
  • Venus reaches maximum illumination on 12th
  • There are no ISS passes this week
  • There is one bright evening Iridium flare on 14th at 23.00.43, 32 degrees altitude in NE

 

Week of 2nd July

 

  • The Moon will wane to Last Quarter next Saturday
  • On 7th July the Earth reaches Aphelion, its furthest distance from the Sun
  • The Sun has two small spot groups but is not active
  • Venus and Saturn will remain apparently very close and are worth viewing together in the West after sunset, especially in an instrument that will show the waning crescent of Venus and Saturn’s rings. The speed of Venus’ orbit will be obvious compared to distant Saturn as the 2 planets move appart
  • There are no ISS passes this week, but there are 2 bright Iridium flares; on Tuesday at 22.13.43, 50 degrees altitude in NE and Thursday at 23.35.13, 19 degrees altitude in NNE

 

Week of 25th June

 

  • The Moon is waxing and will be Full next Saturday. This is officially a Blue Moon, the second Full Moon in a single month. Though not perhaps as rare as the saying ‘once in a blue Moon’ might suggest, the last was in July 2004 and the next will not be till December 2009
  • The Sun is totally blank, though there is still prominence activity at the limb
  • On Monday the supergiant star Antares (300x diameter of Sun) is close to the Moon and on Thursday Jupiter is only 6 degrees away from the Moon
  • There are no ISS passes this week but there is one bright Iridium flare on Thursday at 22.34.38, 42 degrees altitude in NE

 

Week of 18th June

 

  • The Moon will be First Quarter on Friday. On Monday there is a daytime occultation by the waxing crescent Moon of the waning crescent Venus. The planet will disappear at the dark limb of the Moon at 15.05, emerging at 16.25, this should be visible in Binoculars. Venus is 45 degrees East of the Sun, but care must be taken not to look towards the Sun. The occulation will occur at 53 degrees altitude. The Moon will be within one degree of Saturn on Tuesday and Regulus on Wednesday
  • The Sun is blank again. Thursday is the Summer Solstice, when the Sun rises and sets at its most Northly points of the East and West horizons respectively
  • Some vivid Notiluscent clouds occurred at the end of last week. Clear Summer nights near Solar minimum are often good for these high altitude luminous electric blue clouds
  • There is one last low ISS pass on Monday at 22.39.06 WSW to S reaching 17 degrees. There are no bright evening Iridium flares this week

 

Week of 11th June

 

  • The Moon will be New at the end of next week and may be just visible in its 4% phase around 9.30pm on 16th directly below Castor and Pollux and above Mercury (which is now getting closer to the horizon aftr sunset and is thus harder to view)
  • Next Sunday (17th) there should be a lovely line-up at sunset of Saturn, the crescent 9% Moon and Venus, each 10 degrees or so from the other
  • Spot 960 is breaking up and the Sun is quieter
  • Whilst the Moon is ‘dark’ it is an excellent opportunity to view Jupiter and Vesta in the southern evening sky both just past Opposition
  • The ISS makes good passes this week and in good instruments will be seen to be larger as the shuttle Atlantis is now docked. After the mission it will remain larger as they are unfolding new solar panels. The ISS is best viewed: On Monday at 23.24.01 W to ESE. Tuesday at 22.09.43 W to E and 23.44.41 W to SE. Wednesday at 22.30.22 W to ESE. Thursday at 22.51.00 W to ESE. Friday at 23.11.44 W to SSE and Saturday at 23.32.51 WSW to SSW and Sunday 22.17.58 W to SE
  • There are no bright evening Iridium flares

 

Week of 4th June

 

  • The Moon is waning and will be Last Quarter on Friday
  • Mercury reached greatest elongation (angle from the Sun) on 2nd and will remain a good target for naked eye observation low on the NW horizon after sunset. Venus reaches greatest elongation next Saturday and both Venus and Mercury are now seen in Gemini. Venus is nicely alligned with Castor and Pollux at the start of the week and Saturn in Leo adds to the other two showing the plane of the Solar System (the Ecliptic) and the Zodiac constellations of Leo, Cancer and Gemini (with the Sun in Taurus..note not Gemini, for those who read their ‘stars’ in the papers!)
  • The Sun has a new active region (spot 960) emerging on its eastern limb
  • The ISS returns this week with evening passes as follows: Tuesday at 00.09.26 WSW to E and 22.55.34 SW to E. Wednesday at 00.30.14 W to E and 23.16.09 WSW to E. Thursday at 22.02.20 SW to E and 23.36.57 W to E. Friday 22.22.54 WSW to E and the best 23.57.48 W to E reaching 89 degrees and Saturday at 22.43.41 W to E reaching 82 degrees altitude
  • There is one bright Iridium flare on Friday at 22.23.14, 45 degrees altitude in NE
  • The ISS makes good passes this week and in good instruments will be seen to be lareger as shuttle Atlantis is docked. After the mission it will remian larger as they are unfolding new Solar panels. The Space Staition can be seen best: On Monday at23.24.01 from W to E. Tuesday 22.09.43 W to E and 23.44.41 W to SE. Wednesday at 22.30.22 W to ESE. Thursday 22.51.00 W to ESE

 

Week of 28th May

 

  • The Moon will be Full (Rose Moon) on Friday, when it will be within a few degrees of Jupiter and Antares
  • Vesta reaches opposition and brightest magnitude on Wednesday, but still needs a dark sky for the unaided eye. It will be harder to spot due to the moonlight and thus will be easiest again from June 4th. It can be found a couple of degrees higher in altitude and forming an equilateral triangle with Jupiter and Antares in eveneing SE sky. It is moving roughly a quarter of a degree per night
  • The Sun is totally blank again
  • There are no evening ISS passes but one bright Iridium flare on Thursday at 22.58.43, 30 degrees altitude in NNE

 

Week of 21st May

 

  • The Moon is waxing to First Quarter on Wednesday. It occults Saturn on Tuesday (but this is during daylight from UK) and then passes within 1 degree of Regulus (alpha Leo) on Wednesday
  • Mercury continues to be visible in the twighlight by heading at 45 degrees dwon from Venus towards North. It may be spotted as a pink dot in the twighlight glow around 9.45pm
  • The Sun has one large sunspot 956 which could become active during the week
  • There are no evening passes of the ISS this week but there is one bright Iridium flare at 23.21.20 , 17 degrees altitude in NNE on Wednesday

 

Week of 14th May

 

  • The Moon will be New on Tuesday and may be glimpsed as a thin sliver in WNW within a couple of degrees of Mercury at about 10 degrees above the horizon at 9pm on Thursday and close to Venus on Saturday
  • This is the month for the best viewing this year of the 77% illuminated planet Mercury. Though it will be dimming, its angle from the Sun is increasing into June. On Thursday, the 2 day old Moon will be just North of the planet and on Friday should be half-way between Mercury and Venus (waning to about 60% illumination) in a line at 9pm. If the evenings are clear, Mercury should be easy to spot around 10 degrees altitude, but do not scan with instruments until the Sun has set.
  • The Sun has a decaying spot but is nearly blank again
  • Very unusually an asteroid (Vesta) brightens to naked-eye visibility and the next week or so over the New Moon is ideal. Vesta is a couple of degrees higher than Jupiter in the late evening SE sky in Ophiucus and forms a triangle with Jupiter and Antares.
  • There is a comet (Lovejoy) passing through Draco at the start of the week and on 14th will be found next to eta Draconis (2nd mag. star), it is not visble to the naked eye but easy in good binoculars
  • There are no evening ISS passes this week but there is one super bright Iridium flare on Wednesday at 22.21.02, 42 degrees altitude in NE

 

Week of 7th May

 

  • The Moon is waning and will be Last Quarter on Thursday
  • The large spot 953 continues across the Solar disc and though the umbra has split into several smaller shapes, the spot is only mildly active
  • The Eta Aquarid meteor shower peaks before dawn this Sunday (6th) but the Moon is not helpful. The debris from Halley’s comet has however already produced a -10 fireball yesterday, so if up keep a look out East. The radiant is to the South of the Square of Pegasus and red Mars will also be visible nearer teh horizon
  • There are no ISS passes this wekk but there is one bright Iridium flare on Tuesday at 22.50.28, 29 degrees altitude in NE to look out for

 

Week of 30th April

 

  • The first in a series of 3 public lectures (Living in the atmosphere of the Sun) for Public Engagement with Science and Technology takes place on Wednesday at 6.30pm in Green College, Woodstock Road.Places are limited to 100 and though free, must be booked by email to jeff.burley@green.ox.ac.uk
  • The Moon will be Full (Flower Moon) on Wednesday and will be within 1 degree of supergiant red Antares on Friday
  • The Sun at last has one very large (Neptune sized) spot number 953, which is mildly active
  • Jupiter is becoming ever more evident and will be just North of the Moon on Saturday
  • There are no evening passes of the ISS this week
  • There are 3 bright evening Iridium flares: On Monday at 23.09.45, 14 degrees altitude in NNE. On Wednesday at 23.15.07, 20 degrees in NNE and on Saturday at 22.59.06, 24 degrees in NE

 

Week of 23rd April

 

  • The Moon is waxing to First Quarter on Tuesday and will be only one degree from Saturn on Wednesday and Regulus on Thursday
  • The Sun remains blank
  • The Lyrid meteor shower which is associated with Comet Thatcher has its radiant just to the right of Vega and is best viewed in the pre-dawn sky this Sunday and Monday morning
  • There are no more good evening ISS passes but there is one bright Iridium flare on Wednesday at 20.31.30, at 73 degrees altitude in E

 

Week of 16th April

 

  • The Moon will be New on Tuesday and will be visible near Venus on Thursday as a slim crescent
  • The Sun has now been blank fro 12 days, the longest period since 1996
  • The Lyrid meteor shower peaks next Saturday and given the phase of the Moon it is worth watching in the late evening. Lyra and the Summer Triangle are rising in the NE around 8.30pm
  • There are some good ISS passes, the best are as follows: On Monday at 20.50.06 W to E, Tuesday at 21.10.08 W to E, Wednesday at 21.30.08 W to E, Thursday at 21.50.08 from W to SSE and Saturday at 20.55.04 W to ESE
  • There is one bright Iridium flare on Friday at 22.27.38 at 35 degrees altitude in NE

 

Week of 9th April

 

  • The Moon is waning and will be Last Quarter on Tuesday
  • The Sun is still blank
  • The ISS is back and starts making good evening passes on Thursday at 21.04.41 from SW to E reaching 35 degrees. On Friday 13th at 21.24.32 from WSW to E reaching 62 degrees and the two best next week-end on Saturday at 21.44.33 from W to E reaching 85 degrees and Sunday at 22.04.35 from W to ESE reaching 89 degrees
  • There are several bright Iridium flares this week: On Tuesday at 22.50.02 at 17 degrees in NE. Wednesday at 21.36.12 at 18 degrees in N. Thursday at 22.47.38 at 21 degrees in NE

 

Week of 2nd April

 

  • The Moon will be Full on 2nd (Paschal or Pink Moon) and as the first Full Moon after the Vernal Equinox, signals Easter next Sunday (8th)
  • The Sun remains quiet
  • There are no ISS evening passes this week, thopugh it returns from 10th

 

Week of 26th March

 

  • Note that times will now be BST (ie UT +1)
  • The Moon continues to wax and will be Full at the start of next week. On Thursday the Moon passes less than 1.5 degrees from Saturn and on Friday only 1 degree from Regulus (alpha Leo)
  • On the morning of 31st an Asteroid (2km in diameter) 2006 VV2 will pass closer than any sizeable object for some time at 8.8 Lunar distances or roughly 2 million miles. The asteroid will reach magnitude 10 (ie small telescope object)and might be viewed in Leo 2.5 degress east of Regulus at 20.00 BST on 31st.
  • The Sun has no spots and continues blank
  • There are no evening ISS passes but one bright evening Iridium flare on Monday at 20.40.34 BST at 35 degrees altitude in N

 

Week of 19th March

 

  • The Moon is New on 19th and should be visible by Wednesday within 5 degrees of Venus in the evening sky
  • Following half a lunar cycle after the Lunar Eclipse, there is a partial (87%) Solar Eclipse on 19th at 02.30 UT so not visble from Europe (only central Asia)
  • The Sun is blank and not active and will rise due East and set due West on Wednesday, the Vernal Equinox
  • There are no evening ISS passes this week and no bright evening Iridium flares

 

Week of 12th March

 

  • The Moon will be Last Quarter on Monday and will wane until New at the start of next week
  • The Sun is currently blank
  • There are no evening ISS passes, but there is one bright evening Iridium flare on Friday at 20.43.58, 11 degrees altitude in N

 

Week of 5th March

 

  • The Moon will wane to Last Quarter at the start of next week
  • The Sun is almost blank, with no activity forecast
  • There are no ISS passes this week. There is however one superbright Iridium flare on Friday at 19.01.20 at 47 degrees altitude in N

 

Week of 26th February

 

  • This is a week of unusual Lunar events
  • The Moon is waxing and will be Full next Saturday 3rd March (Lenten Moon), when it will pass through the Earth’s shadow for a Total Lunar eclipse. All of the eclipse is visible from here weather permitting !
  • Before that on Thursday the Moon will pass within 1 degree of M44 the Beehive Open Cluster and on Friday within 1 degree of the brightest star in Leo (Regulus)
  • A rare event will occur in the early hours of Friday: The Moon will pass in front of Saturn. From here however, none of the planet will disappear but we will see a grazing approach where Saturn (followed by Titan) will appear to roll along the southern edge of the Moon. This will occur in WSW at an altitude of 33.5 degrees. The timing is not ideal in that it is in the middle of the night and will last from 2.40 till 2.50 am
  • Lunar Eclipse timings: the Moon is touched by the penumbra at 20.21 GMT at 24 degrees altitude in E and will then start to dim, entering the darker umbra at 21.33 at 33 degrees in ESE. Totality starts at 22.49 at 41 degrees in SE and lasts till 23.57 with mid eclipse at 23.25. The Moon will then brighten until resuming normal brightness at 02.25 on 4th. The Total eclipse phase is much longer than in a Solar eclipse primarily due to the size of the Earth’s shadow
  • The last decent ISS pass will occur on Monday at 18.24.53 from W to SE reaching 48 degrees
  • There are no bright evening Iridium flares

 

Week of 19th February

 

  • The New Moon should first be visible on Monday at 17.45 GMT at 21 degrees altitude in WSW. If clear it should be a beautiful sight less than 2 degrees NE of Venus.
  • The Sun remains blank and inactive
  • The ISS will make its best evening passes this week: On Monday at 19.12.33 from W to ENE reaching 84 degrees. Tuesday at 17.58.00 WSW to E reaching 74 degrees and 19.32.57 W to E reaching 58 degrees. Wednesday at 18.18.19 from W to E reaching 85 degrees and 19.53.18 W to E reaching 31 degrees. On Thursday at 18.38.38 from W to E reaching 83 degrees. On Friday at 18.58.53 from W to ESE reaching 74 degrees. On Saturday at 19.19.07 from W to SSE reaching 44 degrees and Sunday at 18.04.19 from W to ESE reaching 74 degrees.
  • There are no bright evening Iridium flares

 

Week of 12th February

 

  • The Moon will be New on Saturday but will not probably be visible till the 19th (altitude and times to follow)
  • The Sun is blank again
  • Saturn is currently at Opposition and closest to Earth in its orbit. It is now at its best for 2007 and given good seeing, 6 moons can be viewed in the 10 inch
  • Mercury is now disappearing but Venus remains incredibly bright
  • The ISS is back with best passes on Wednesday at 19.05.37 from SSW to S, on Thursday at 19.25.43 from SW to SE, On Friday at 18.11.51 from SSW to E and 19.46.07 from WSW to ESE and Saturday at 18.31.49 SW to E with the best on Sunday at 18.52.06 from WSW to E
  • There are 2 bright Iridium flares; on Tuesday at 19.01.58 at 30 degrees altitude in SSE and a magnitude -8 flare in Saturday at 18.40.09 at 51 degrees in NNE

 

Week of 4th February

 

  • The Moon will wane till Last Quarter on Saturday
  • The Sun has two spots but is magnetically quiet
  • Venus and Uranus will be within one degree on Wednesday an Spica will be just over one degree from the Moon on Tuesday
  • There are no ISS passes and no bright evening Iridium flares this week

 

Week of 29th January

 

  • The Moon will be Full (Snow Moon) next Friday when it will be within 1 degree of Saturn in the sickle of Leo
  • The Sun has one large spot 940 which caused some activity before coming into view
  • Venus is superbly bright in the Western sky in the evening and Sirius dominates the southern sky mid-evening. Saturn will be lost in the Moon’s glare at the start of the week
  • There are no evening ISS passes and no bright evening Iridium flares this week

 

Week of 22nd January

 

  • Perhaps the forecast winter weather this week will bring clear skies!
  • Comet McNaught has now gone after its very brief bright appearance but great pictures exist eg on Astronomy picture of the day (also on Blackett images see www.blackettobservatory.org)
  • The Moon is now waxing and will be First Quarter on Thursday
  • The Sun remains quiet
  • There are no evening ISS passes
  • There are two bright evening Iridium flares on Friday at 18.31.40, 50 degrees altitude in NNE and on Saturday at 18.25.31, 52 degrees altitude in NNE

 

Week of 15th January

 

  • Comet C/2006 P1 McNaught is now visible in daylight, a few degrees to East of the Sun, but it will go behind the Sun and will soon be too far South of the Celestial Equator for viewing from here. The comet is magnitude -5 and the brightest since Ikeya-Seki in 1965
  • The Moon will be New on Friday
  • The Sun is quiet again
  • Saturn will be well viewed this week with no Moon and Venus is now a bright evening object at magnitude -3.9
  • There are no evening ISS passes this week but one very bright Iridium flare on Saturday at 18.59.31, 39 degrees altitude in NNE

 

Week of 8th January

 

  • The Moon is now waning and will be Last Quarter on Thursday
  • The Sun is quiet though has two large spots 930 and 933 crossing the disc
  • There is currently a naked eye comet 2006 P1 McNaught (Oort cloud origin) visible just before sunrise (currently around 8.05am) in ESE or sunset in WNW, a clear view of the horizon is needed and it rises after both Jupiter and Mars and a little further North. Care must be taken as it is getting closer to the Sun. Viewing from the UK will be impossible after next week-end and probably best at the start of the week but it might be visible in daylight on 14th
  • There are no evening ISS passes and just one bright evening Iridium flare on Monday at 17.06.52, 15 degrees altitude in SW

 

Week of 1st January 2007

 

  • The Moon will be Full on Wednesday (Cold Moon) and will sadly obliterate all but the brightest of the slow moving Quadrantid meteors, the shower peaks also on Wednesday. The Radiant is in the no longer used constellation of Quadrans Muralis which lies between Bootes and Ursa Major.
  • The Sun is currently blank but spot 930 is expected to return during the week
  • Saturn rises around 8pm in Leo and by mid month will be at its best, especially as the Moon wanes. Venus is noticeable now in the West for an hour after sunset and is brightening and moving Eastwards.
  • An unusual transit occurs on the night of 6th to 7th. Saturn’s moon Iapetus will transit the planet’s disc from 10.45pm and should be visible all night, travelling slowly as one of the outermost moons. Whereas Jupiter transits are fairly common, this will be worth watching if clear
  • The ISS makes a couple more evening passes: On New Year’s Day at 17.00.04 from W to ESE anfd on Tuesday at 17.22.23 from W to SE
  • There are two bright evening Iridium flares both on Thursday: At 17.12.32, 20 degrees altitude in SSW and at 18.23.09 at 47 degrees altitude in NE

2006 – What’s Up

Week of 25th December

 

  • The Moon will be First Quarter on Wednesday
  • The Sun is currently blank but a large sunspot on the far side of the Sun is liekly to appear mid-week and should cause increased activity
  • The ISS is visible (fog permitting) in the early evening throughout the week, the best passes are as follows: On Christmas Day at 17.33.41 from WSW to E, Boxing Day at 17.56.05 from W to E, Wednesday at 16.43.26 WSW to E, Thursday at 17.05.43 W to E, Friday at 17.28.00 W to E and Saturday at 17.50.13 W to SE
  • There are 2 bright evening Iridium flares: On Christmas Day at 16.33.20, 28 degrees altitude in WNW and on Boxing Day at 28 degrees altitude in S

 

Week of 18th December

 

  • The Moon will be New on Wednesday
  • The Winter Solstice is on Friday when the Sun follows its shortest path in the sky from its southernmost rising point on the Eastern horizon to its southernmost setting point in the West
  • The Sun is highly active with spot 930 giving rise to X-ray flares. Auroral activity is high and may increase during the week
  • The ISS is back with evening passes on Friday at 17.59.59 from SW to SSE and Sunday at 17.09.38 from SW to E
  • There are two evening Iridium flares: On Tuesday at 17.45.23, 14 degrees altitude in WNW and on Thursday at 17.15.26, 20 degrees altitude in WNW

 

Week of 11th December

 

  • The Geminid meteor shower peaks on Thursday morning 18th at 8.20 UT. It is worth looking out for fast moving meteors on Wednesday and Thursday nights
  • The Moon is waning and will be Last Quarter on tuesday
  • The Sun has and active spot 930
  • There is a beutiful association of planets in the pre-dawn sky, Mercury, Jupiter and Mars
  • There are no evening ISS passes or bright Iridium flares this week

 

Week of 4th December

 

  • The Moon is waxing and will be Full (Frosty Moon) on Tuesday
  • The Sun is now active with sunspot 930 having produced 2 high energy X-ray flares. Activity is likely to continue over the next few days
  • Saturn is now returning (though the Ring system will be less favourable than last year, due to decreasing tilt) to the evening sky in Leo and rises at 22.00hrs preceded by the Beehive Open cluster M44 and the eskimo planetary nebula (though these are badly effected by the Moon next week)
  • There are no evening ISS passes
  • There is one bright evening iridium flare on Monday at 16.27.55, 27 degrees altitude in WNW

 

Week of 27th November

 

  • The Moon is First Quarter on Wednesday
  • The Sun is quiet and devoid of spots again
  • The ISS is making early morning passes at present, for those who are up early the best is onMonday at 06.35.27 from W to E reaching 86 degrees altitude ie almost directly overhead
  • There is one bright early evening Iridium flare on Monday at 16.46.44, 17 degrees altitude in SSW

 

Week of 20th November

 

  • The Moon is New at the start of the week and will be waxing to First Quarter by the start of next week
  • The Sun is quiet as the large spot 923 disappears
  • The November meteor showers appear to be producing some very bright meteors, it is worth watching out if the nights are clear and indeed for any late Leonids
  • The are no evening passes of the ISS this week
  • There are 2 bright evening Iridium flares: Both on Monday at 17.00.59, 28 degrees altitude in SSW and at 18.27.23, 38 degrees altitude in SSE

 

Week of 13th November

 

  • The Moon is waning till New at the start of next week, so is ideally dark for the Leonids
  • The Leonid meteor shower peaks on Friday at 19.11. This year there is just a chance of increased activity due to the 1933 debris stream, predicted at 4.45am on Sunday morning. Though the radiant in Leo does not rise in the East till 22.00, it will be worth watching into the night over the week-end, especially as Leo climbs towards the Zenith
  • The Sun has a large but quiet spot 923
  • There are no evening ISS passes this week and no bright Iridium flares

 

Week of 6th November

 

  • This is the week for the second in the pair of Mercury transits (the last so beutifully viewed in 2003). Sadly none of this transit will be visible from the UK (next will be in 2049 on 7th May and 2052 on November 9th). However, the transit can be seen on various websites including the SOHO site (see Links). The transit begins at 19.11 GMT and ends at 00.15 GMT on 9th. Note: The next visible transit will be the much rarer transit of Venus (seen in total in 2004) on 6th June 2012, but this will only be seen at the end for the 1st hour of daylight from 5 till 6 am local time
  • TThe Moon will wane during the week to Last Quarter next week-end. Whilst these clear and misty nights are common, look out fro Lunar Halos and other rainbow effects caused by water and ice particles at high altitude
  • The Sun still has a large sunspot group (921) which could cause magnetic activity
  • There are no more bright evening ISS passes this week
  • There is one super bright Iridium flare on Wednesday at 17.45.37 at 40 degrees altitude in S

 

Week of 30th October

 

  • The Moon is waxing and will be Full (Hunter’s Moon)on Sunday
  • Tuesday sees the feast of Halloween or All Hallows, this is believed to have developed out of the more ancient feast for the Pleiades (M45), one of the most cross-culturally significant calendar fixing and cosmologically significant celestial ‘objects’
  • The Sun is again active with a fast growing sunspot group (921)
  • The ISS makes a couple more passes: On Friday at 17.15.12 from W to ESE reaching 53 degrees and on Saturday at 17.36.32 from W to SE reaching 29 degrees

 

Week of 23rd October

 

  • The Moon will now wax till First Quarter next Sunday
  • The Sun remians quiet
  • Comet Swan continues a good object in Binoculars heading up through Corona Borealis. This week-end it is near the bright star Alkalurops (the left hand of Bootes)
  • The ISS is back for evening passes: The best are on Tuesday at 19.25.59 from WSW to ESE, on Wednesday at 19.47.35 from W to WSW, on Thursday at 18.34.19 from WSW to E, on Friday at 18.55.51 from W to E and Saturady at 19.17.27 from W to E
  • There are no bright evening Iridium flares

 

Week of 16th October

 

  • The Orionid meteor shower peaks on Saturday afternoon, though it is worth watching on Friday and Saturday nights. With no Moon this could be a good year, though rarely getting above 25 meteors per hour. The debris stream is that left behind by Halley’s comet (last pass 1986)
  • The Moon continues to wane and will be New at the start of next week
  • The Sun is again blank
  • Comet Swan (with a greenish tinge) is still well placed to find with binoculars by following the handle of the Plough
  • The ISS returns to the evening sky on Saturday at 19.56.23 reaching 25 degrees altitude
  • There are 2 bright evening Iridium flares on Tuesday at 18.45.55 at 49 degrees altitude in S and the brightest at 20.21.32 at 47 degrees altitude in ESE

 

Week of 9th October

 

  • Comet Swan is now visible in Binoculars and reasonably easy to locate half way between the handle of the Plough (saucepan) to orange Arcturus. The fuzzy round head is not visible to the unaided eye at magnitude 6)
  • The Moon will now wane to Last Quarter next Saturday. With a bright Moon and plenty of moisture in the atmosphere it is a good time to see Lunar halos (circular rainbows around the Moon) or Lunar Aureole (straw coloured circles around the Moon)
  • The Sun has few spots and little activity, though a dark 250,000 km filament is currently visible
  • The are no ISS evening passes this week
  • There is a medium bright Iridium flare on Wednesday at 19.12.54, 54 degrees altitude in SSE

 

Week of 2nd October

 

  • The Moon is waxing and will be Full next Saturday (Harvest Moon) Though the October Moon is usually the Hunter or Blood Moon, the Full Moon nearest the Autumnal Equinox is known as the Harvest Moon. We are ending the Major Lunar Standstill season, with the lowest First Quarter Moon on 30th September (Which barely reaches 10 degrees above the horizon). We will have to wait till 2015 for another standstill season (Minor) and till 2024 for the next Major (extremes of Lunar altitude.
  • The Sun has several potentilaly active and growing spots after some time of inactivity
  • The planet Uranus is currently easy to find being less than 0.5 degrees form 4th magnitude lambda Aquarius
  • ISS pases this week are all just before dawn
  • There is one very bright Iridium flare on Thursday 5th at 19.39.52, 57 degrees altitude in SSE

 

Week of 25th September

 

  • The Moon will now wax to First Quarter next Saturday. For many the New Moon this week-end signifies the start of Ramadan
  • The Sun remains quiet with just one small sunspot
  • This is a poor time for planet watchers, only Uranus is well placed and visble in small telescopes
  • There are no evening ISS passes this week
  • There is one reasonably bright iridium flare on Friday at 20.06.55, 58 degrees altitude in SE

 

Week of 18th September

 

  • The Moon is waning and will be New next Friday when it will eclipse the Sun. The Moon is at Apogee (furthest from the Earth) in its orbit so will only cause at best an annular eclipse but none of the eclipse will be visible from the UK
  • Spot 904 is about to depart over the Sun’s western limb for the second time and is still a site of active prominences
  • Next Saturday 23rd is the Autummnal Equinox. The Sun will rise due East and set due West before heading into the Southern hemisphere of the Celestial Sphere and our days will become shorter than the nights
  • There are no evening ISS passes this week
  • There is one bright evening Iridium flare this week on Friday at 20.39.57 at 57 degrees altitude in ENE

 

Week of 11th September

 

  • The Moon though still very large and bright is now waning and will be Last Quarter on Thursday
  • The Sun has two large groupos of spots which may lead to magnetic activity
  • Bright Arcturus is beginning to set late evening in the West and Taurus is rising before midnight signalling the start of Autumn
  • There are no ISS passes this week and no bright Iridium flares

 

Week of 4th September

 

  • The Moon will be Full (Corn Moon) on Thursday and will rise at 19.40 BST in Partial Eclipse. The Eclipse is only 18% and the umbra will have left the Moon’s surface by 20.40 BST with the Moon returning to normal brightness by 22.00 BST
  • There are no bright ISS passes this week but there is a bright Iridium flare on Monday at 22.00.44 in ENE at 41 degrees altitude

 

Week of 28th August

 

  • The first week of an 8 planet Solar System since 1930
  • The Moon is waxing and will be First Quarter on Tuesday
  • The Sun now has a large bipolar spot (905) which is magnetically reversed, more evidence that the next Solar cycle has begun
  • The ISS continues to make evening passes though these are better at the start of the week: On Monday at 21.08.58 from W to ESE reaching 72 degrees and 22.44.21 from W to WSW reaching 15 degrees. On Tuesday at 21.32.33 from W to SSE reaching 43 degrees. On Wednesday at 21.55.57 from W to SSW reaching 23 degrees. On Thursday at 20.43.57 from W to SE reaching 43 degrees. On Friday at 21.07.29 from W to SSE reaching 23 degrees and on Saturday at 21.31.55 from WSW to SSW but only reaching 11 degrees

 

Week of 21st August

 

  • The Moon will be New on Thursday
  • The Sun may retain some activity as sunspot 904 disappears
  • Thursday 24th will see the vote by the IAU as to whether we change from a 9 Planet Star (Solar) System to one of 12 (with perhaps more to follow). Friday 25th: The IAU have now voted and have agreed an 8 Planet System, so Pluto has been demoted to a Dwarf Planet with Ceres, UB 313 and potentially many more Trans Neptunian Objects. The critical definition is that a Planet must reign supreme in its neighbourhood ie ‘clearing’ all similar objects, Pluto fails in this respect
  • Please note that contrary to articles in some areas of the Press, the planet Mars will not be unusually close and large on 27th, it is in fact at the far side of its orbit and close to the Sun in the sky. This is an Internet generated hoax
  • There are evening passes of the ISS as follows: On Friday at 21.33.52 from W to E and on Saturday at 21.57.23 from W to SE. There are no bright evening Iridium flares

 

Week of 14th August

 

  • The Moon is waning and will be Last Quarter on Wednesday
  • The Sun has been active again and the large sunspot 904 has now broken into two. More interestingly a small spot appeared on 31st July and has now been analysed to have shown reversed polarity, that is the magnetic poles (N and S) were reversed compared to the spots seen for the last 11 years of cycle 23. This may herald the start of cycle 24 which is predicted to be more active than anything seen in the last 50 yeras (peaking around 2011)
  • On 24th August the IAU will vote on a new classification for planets and other Solar System objects, this is likely to confirm the planetray status of Pluto (though as a double planet with Charon) and also to elevate the newly discovered 2003 UB313 and also Ceres to planetary status making the Solar System a 12 planet system. The eccentric and inclined orbit objects will be called Plutons, other objects will be called Small Solar System Bodies and the term Minor Planet is to be dropped
  • The ISS is back and evening passes are visible as follows: On Friday 18th at 22.05.54 from SW to SSE reaching 36 degrees altitude and on Saturday at 22.27.55 from WSW to SSE reaching 62 degress altitude. Visible passes will continue through next week
  • There is one bright evening Iridium flare to look out for: On Thursday at 23.10.46 at 17 degrees altitude in NNE

 

Week of 7th August

 

  • The Moon will be Full on Wednesday (Red or Corn Moon)
  • The Perseid meteor shower peaks next Saturday just after midnight. Though one of the most reliable for good numbers of shooting stars and for Summer temperatures, this year moonlight will reduce visibility. If it is clear though it is worth watching out over the week-end.
  • The Sun remains blank
  • There are no evening ISS passes this week
  • There are no unusually bright Iridium flares

 

Week of 31st July

 

  • The Moon is waxing and will be First Quarter on Wednesday when it will be close to Jupiter in the sky. The Moon will also be within 1 degree of Spica on Tuesday and Antares on Friday
  • The Sun remains quiet with just one small spot (901) though a Coronal hole has given rise to Auroral activity over the last couple of days
  • The Delta Aquarid meteor shower peaks on 6th August, though there are not many expected per hour (15 max.)
  • Thr are no evening ISS passes this week
  • There is only one bright Iridium flare on Friday at 22.45.56, 43 degrees altitude in NE

 

Week of 24th July

 

  • The Moon continues to wane and will be New on Tuesday
  • The Sun remains blank but is showing some magnetic activity
  • There are no visible ISS passes this week
  • There is one bright Iridium flare on Wednesday at 23.20.48, 21 degrees altitude in NNE

 

Week of 17th July

 

  • The Moon is now waning and will be Last Quarter on Monday
  • The Sun is now totally blank and quiet again
  • There are no visble ISS passes this week
  • There are two bright evening Iridium flares both on Monday at 22.31.48, 43 degrees altitude in NE and at 23.12.32, 30 deg. alt. in W

 

Week of 10th July

 

  • The Moon will be Full (Thunder Moon) on Tuesday
  • The Sun is still active from spot 898, which is breaking up, but continues to cause Coronal Mas Ejections (CME) though not towards Earth
  • There are no visible ISS passes this week
  • There are two bright evening Iridium flares: On Tuesday at 23.30.24, 38 degrees altitude in WSW and on Friday at 23.21.26, 34 deg. alt. in W

 

Week of 3rd July

 

  • The Shuttle launch has been delayed by cloud and is now scheduled for 6.38pm BST on 4th
  • On 4th the Earth is at its furthest point from the Sun in its orbit (aphelion)
  • The Moon will be First Quarter on Monday
  • The Sun continues to display a beutifully symmetrical spot 898 (Neptune sized) which at present remains stable as it traverses the disc
  • The Moon will be close to 3 bright objects this week; The bright blue star Spica on Tuesday, Jupiter on Thursday and the huge Red Giant star Antares on Saturday
  • There are no visble ISS passes this week
  • There are 3 bright evening Iridium flares: On Wednesday at 22.50.17, 18 deg. altitude in WNW. On Thursday at 22.53.36, 15 deg. alt. in WNW and the brightest on Friday at 22.45.23, 42 deg. alt. in WSW

 

Week of 26th June

 

  • The Moon will now wax till First Quarter at the start of next week
  • The next Shuttle (Discovery) launch is scheduled for Saturday 1st at 20.48 BST. and will be critical in deciding the fate of the Shuttle programme (and indeed NASA’s manned space programme) should more problems occur
  • The Sun is again devoid of sunspots
  • Saturn, Mars and the New Moon will be close in the evening sky on Wednesday
  • There are 5 good ISS passes to watch out for. On Monday at 22.10.13 from W to E reaching 88 degrees altitude, then again at 23.45.21 from W to SSE reaching 40 degrees alt. On Tuesday at 22.33.10 from W to ESE reaching 70 deg. On Wednesday at 22.56.08 from W to SE reaching 41 deg. and on Friday at 22.06.51 from W to SE reaching 41 deg.
  • There are 2 bright evening Iridium flares: On Friday at 22.52.29 at 26 degrees in W and on Sunday at 22.49.43 at 23 deg. in WNW

 

Week of 19th June

 

  • The Moon will continue to wane till New at the start of next week
  • The Sun is now devoid of sunspots again and continues to rise and set further North on the E and W horizons respectively, until Wednesday 21st, the Summer Solstice, when it rises at 4.48am local time almost NE at azimuth 49 degrees (ie compass bearing 049). This is the longest day and the Sun will reach an altitude of almost 75 degrees as seen from Oxford
  • Mercury reaches its greatest elongation 25 degrees E (angle from Sun) on Tuesday and may be viewed after sunset just south of Pollux in Gemini
  • This is a week for evening ISS passes, there are 8: On Monday at 22.39.53 from SW to E reaching altitude 35 degrees. On Tuesday at 23.02.36 from WSW to E reaching 62 degrees. On Wednesday at 23.25.32 from W to E reaching 86 degrees. On Thursday at 22.13.30 from WSW to E reaching 62 degrees and 23.48.32 from W to E reaching 83 degrees. On Friday at 22.36.24 from W to E reaching 86 degrees. On Saturday at 22.59.22 from W to E reaching 89 degrees and Sunday at 23.22.18 from W to ESE reaching 68 degrees.
  • There is one notable evening Iridium flare on Wednesday at 22.19.05 at 37 degrees altitude in W

 

Week of 12th June

 

  • Ther Moon will wane during the week to Last Quarter next Sunday
  • The Sun has a number of spots including an active region around spot 892 which could lead to magnetic storms
  • Next Saturday Mars and Saturn will be less than a degree apart in the Western sky at sunset
  • The ISS passes are mainly in the early hours though the following may be seen at the end of the week: On 16th at 23.05.30 in SE reaching a maximum of 17 degrees in altitude above the horizon at total pass of 2 minutes. On 17th at 23.24.59 in SW, max. alt. 34 degrees taking 5.5 minutes and the best on Sunday 18th at 23.47.07 in WSW reaching 60 degrees, a total time of nearly 6 minutes.
  • There are two evening Iridium flares of note: The best on 13th at 23.49.03, 45 degrees altitude in WSW and also on 14th at 22.45.03, 17 degrees altitude in WNW

 

Week of 5th June

 

  • The Moon is waxing to Full (Rose Moon) next Sunday
  • The Sun remains blank
  • The Moon this week provides a helpful locator to Jupiter (within 5 degrees on Thuirsday) and to two of the brightest and summer only stars. Spica (a giant Blue star) next to the Moon on Wednesday and Antares (an enormous red supergiant) next to the Moon on Saturday.
  • There are no evening ISS passes this wekk
  • There are however a couple of bright evening Iridium flares: On Monday at 22.33.18, 17 degrees altitude in WNW and on Friday at 22.47.10, 25 deg. alt. in W

 

Week of 29th May

 

  • The Moon will be First Quarter on 4th June
  • The Sun has few spots but some activity on the Eastern limb suggests an active area over the next few days
  • Jupiter is now very obvious in the South as the sky darkens and is the first object to appear
  • There are no ISS passes this week
  • There is one bright evening Iridium flare on Wednesday at 23.13.38, 35 degrees altitude in W

 

Week of 22nd May

 

  • The Moon wanes during the week and will be New next week-end
  • The Sun remains quiet

    <li<>There are no visible ISS passes this week

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  • There are 4 bright Iridium flares to look out for: On Monday at 22.51.31, 16 deg. altitude in WNW; Tuesday at 22.54.53, 14 deg. alt. WNW;Wednesday at 21.39.10, 19 deg. alt. NNW and 21.47.42, 18 deg. alt. NNW. There are also 2 very bright middle of the night flares (for insomniacs)this Sunday 21st at 04.43.19, 71 deg. alt. in WSW and on Thursday at 01.143.24, 53 deg. alt. in SSW

 

Week of 15th May

 

  • The Moon is now Waning and will be Last Quarter next Saturday
  • The Sun is quiet again and virtually devoid of sunspots
  • The broken Comet 73P is moving rapidly across the sky and can be seen (in binos) from midnight till dawn. On Monday the two largest and brightest segments will be parallel to the two top corner stars in the square of P{egasus and between Pegasus and Cygnus
  • There are no visible ISS passes this week
  • There are two bright Iridium flares to watch out for: On Tuesday at 22.59.36, 23 deg. altitude in W and on Friday at 00.04.32 at 44 deg. altitude in SW

 

Week of 8th May

 

  • The Moon will be Full next Saturday (Flower Moon)
  • The Sun is now quieter with few sunspots
  • Comet 73P Schwassmann-Wachmann 3 continues to break up daily, fragment B has now split in two. In total 60 fragments have now been seen. B and C are Binocular objects high in the Eastern sky just before midnight. At its closest (25 Lunar Distances or 6 million miles) at less than 0.1 AU, this will be the closest comet approach for 20 years. Just before dawn on Monday one fragment will pass right next to the Ring Nebula in Lyra
  • There are no ISS passes this week
  • There are two bright Iridium flares: On Monday at 00.46.36 46 deg. altitude in SSW and on Tuesday at 23.07.50 31 deg. altitude in WSW

 

Week of 1st May

 

  • The Moon is now waxing and will be First Quarter on Friday
  • The Sun has several sunspots, olne (875) particularly active and solar flares have continued to erupt, one giving a 10 minute radio blackout in the States at the end of last week
  • Jupiter is now rising early evening and at -2.5 magnitude is very bright as it approaches Opposition, the Galillean moons are also easy in small binos
  • Comet 73P Schwassmann-Wachmann 3 is racing across the sky with its larger segments B and C relatively easy to find in binos as fuzzy patches between Hercules and Corona Borealis at the start of the week and Lyra at the end of the week
  • There are sevral bright evening passes of the ISS: On Monday at 22.06.55 W to SE, Tuesday at 22.30.02 W to SSW and Wednesday at 21.17.53 W to SSW
  • There are 3 bright evening Iridium flares: On Monday at 23.41.00 at 35 degrees altitude in WSW, Wednesday at 21.23.30, 23 deg. alt. in NNW and 23.40.54 32 deg. alt. in WSW

 

Week of 24th April

 

  • The Moon is still waning and will be New on Friday. On Monday in the pre dawn sky the old Moon will be very close to Venus.
  • The Sun has few spots but is still producing large flares on its limb
  • Jupiter is approaching Opposition next week
  • There are several evening passes of the ISS: On Monday at 22.35.21 WSW to SW, Tuesday at 21.23.35 SW to E, Wednesday at 21.46.30 WSW to E, Thursday at 22.09.33 W to E, Friday at 20.57.32 WSW to E and 22.32.37 W to ESE, Saturday at 21.20.32 W to E and 22.55.40 W to WSW and the best on Sunday at 21.43.33 W to E
  • There is one bright evening Iridium flare on Tuesday at 23.30.45 at 11 degrees altitude in W

 

Week of 17th April

 

  • The Moon is now waning and will be Last Quarter next Friday
  • The Sun remains magnetically active despite having few spots
  • Comet 73P/Schwassmann-Wachmann 3 which has broken into 20 pieces is now brightening and the brighter segments will be visible in the 10 inch from the end of April into May. At its brightest (May 1st) it should be an easy binocular object reaching perhaps magnitude 3. On 8th May it will pass very close to the Ring Nebula in Lyra
  • The ISS will be visible in the evening next week and for the first time next Sunday at 22.11.38 from SW to SSWThere are 4 bright evening Iridium flares: On Monday at 23.41.31, 17 deg. alt. in WSW, Wednesday at 23.38.46, 15 deg. alt in W, on Thursday at 23.32.51, 16 deg. alt. in W and Saturday at 23.30.08, 14 deg. alt. in W

 

Week of 10th April

 

  • The Moon will be Full (Paschal Moon) on Thursday and is thus followed by Easter Day (the first Sunday after the first Full Moon after the Vernal Equinox)
  • The Sun has only a few spots but remians active with several large prominences over the last few days
  • The latest ESA probe Venus Express has now gone into orbit around the planet (for its 500 day mission) and hopes to send back first images on Thursday
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  • There are no ISS passes visible in the evenings this week

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  • There are 3 bright Iridium flares this week: On 13th at 22.56.07, 17 degrees altitude WSW, on 14th at 22.50.13 at 18 degrees altitude WSW and on 17th at 22.41.31 at 17 deg. altitude in WSW

 

Week of 3rd April

 

  • The Moon is waxing to First Quarter on Wednesday
  • The Sun is active at present and is producing both large prominences and the largest spot no.865 this year
  • Venus is bright in the morning sky before dawn
  • There is currently no information regardingt he ISS and Iridium flares

 

Week of 27th March

 

  • The Moon wanes until it is directly between the Earth and the Sun on Wednesday morning. On Tuesday it is at Perigee (closest to Earth) thus the eclipse on Wednesday is Total and of long duration (over 4 minutes) as seen from Central Africa and Turkey. From the UK it will be a Partial eclipse of at most 25%. This will not be noticeable and is especially dangerous to attempt to view it unless using professional solar filters with the CE mark. Permanent eye-sight damage can otherwise result. The Moon’s edge will start to be seen on the Solar disc from around 9.45am and will be at 25% at 10.30am and will have gone by 11.30am.
  • The Sun remains quiet and so at Totality viewers should expect to see a symmetrical and unstructured Corona
  • There are no evening ISS passes this week and no bright Iridium flares

 

Week of 20th March

 

  • Monday is the Vernal Equinox, the start of the Astronomical year and the origin of the celestial coordinate system. Only at the 2 Equinoxes does the Sun rise due East and set due West, hence spending equal times above and below the horizon
  • The Moon is waning and will be Last Quarter on Wednesday
  • The Sun has one active sunspot region which is causing some geomagnetic activity
  • There are no ISS passes this week
  • There is one superbrtight (-8th magnitude) evening Iridium flare on Wednesday at 19.20.04, 63 degrees altitude in SE

 

Week of 13th March

 

  • The Moon will be Full on Tuesday (Lenten Moon, last of the Winter. As we might expect with a Solar eclipse approaching on 29th March, there will be a Lunar eclipse on 14th. This will only be penumbral ie the Moon will not enter the dark central shadow of the Earth and will only appear dimmed as it passes through the outer shadow. This will occur from 21.25 GMT for 1st contact, 23.28 GMT 2nd contact, 00.08 GMT 3rd contact and the Moon should be at full brightness again at 02.10 GMT
  • The Sun is blank with no sunspots again, though there has been some auroral activity at high latitudes
  • Jupiter is now rising at 23.15 GMT
  • There are no bright ISS passes this week
  • There is only one notable Iridium flare on 17th at 19.41.34, 57 deg. altitude ESE

 

Week of 6th March

 

  • The Moon is waxing and will be First Quarter on Wednesday. It will be near Mars on Monday and Saturn on Friday
  • The Sun remains blank but there are still active prominences
  • There are 4 good ISS evening passes: On Monday at 18.52.42 from W to E, Tuesday at 19.17.20 from W to ESE, Wednesday at 19.41.58 W to S and Thursday at 18.31.19 W to ESE
  • There is one super bright Iridium flare at mag.-8 on Wednesday at 18.42.09 at 57 deg. altitude in SSE

 

Week of 27th February

 

  • Comet Pojmanski is visble in the early morning as a small blue smudge and will be just east of Venus on Monday (Binoculars will show a small tail)
  • Mercury is at its greatest elongation, ie most visible, and can be seen in the pink twighlight in Pisces (just below the square of Pegasus) just after sunset at the start of the week
  • The Moon continues to wane and will be New mid-week, the dark skies will be good for viewing fainter objects
  • The Sun remains blank
  • The ISS returns and will give several bright passes: On Tuesday at 19.34.50 WSW to S. Thursday at 18.49.15 WSW to E. Friday at 19.13.56 W to E. Saturday at 19.38.41 W to E and Sunday at 18.28.13 W to E
  • One more super bright Iridium flare at magnitude -8 can be seen on Friday at 19.03.20 at 55 deg. altitude in SSE, a direct beam from Iridium 54

 

Week of 20th February

 

  • The Moon is now waning and will be Last Quarter on Tuesday
  • The Sun is basically devoid of sunspots though there has been some large prominence activity at the limb
  • Jupiter is now making its way into the late evening sky and will be within 5 degrees of the Moon on Monday
  • The ISS will be returning next week-end.
  • There will be 2 exceptional Iridium flares both direct beams at -8th magnitude on Sunday 26th; at 17.48.50, 45 deg. altitude in SSW (Iridium 34) and then at 19.24.30, 51 deg. altitude in SE (Iridium 56)

 

Week of 13th February

 

  • The Moon will be Full on Monday (Snow Moon)
  • The Sun remains quiet, though there are a few spots on the far side
  • There are no visible ISS passes this week
  • There is only one notable Iridium flare this week on 16th at 18.31.16 at 47 deg. altitude in SSE

 

Week of 6th February

 

  • Contrary to original thoughts that space had proved too cold for the suit-satellite’s batteries, it is apparently still transmitting, though the signal is now weaker.
  • The Moon is waxing during the week and will be Full at the start of next week. Tonight (5th) It is close to both Mars and the Pleiades M45
  • The Sun is totally quiet with zero sunspots
  • Saturn continues to be high in the night sky and makes a good image next to the Beehive Open Cluster M44
  • There are no evening passes of the ISS
  • On 11th Febraury (Saturday) at 18.52.26 at 46 degrees altitude, direction SSE we are almost directly under the reflected sunlight beam from Iridium satellite Iridium 4. The resulting flare will be -8 magnitude (over 1500 x brighter than the brightest stars)

 

Week of 30th January

 

  • A new novel idea for a satellite is about to be launched on Friday. This consists of an old space suit which will be released from the ISS. It has transmitters ‘on board’ and will transmit its internal temperature as it fluctuates with solar radiation, to the ground, during its unprotected orbits
  • The Moon will be waxing over the week to First Quarter next Sunday, when Mars will be within 2 degress of the Moon
  • The Sun currently has no sunspots but a 200,000 mile long filament exists on the nearside, which could lead to activity
  • Saturn is now at its best, though due to the inclination of the rings, the Cassini division is now harder to see than last year
  • There are no visible ISS passes this week
  • Information on Iridium flares is not currently available.

 

Week of 23rd January

 

  • After several delays the New Horizons mission to Pluto and the Kuiper Belt launched sucessfully on Friday
  • The Moon will be New next Sunday and is close to Jupiter at the start of the week
  • The Sun has a fast developing group of sunspots which may lead to flares and increased activity
  • Saturn is approaching Opposition and is thus well placed for observation. While there is little Moon the Open Cluster M44 (Beehive) may be seen in Binoculars just above and to the West of the Planet
  • There are no evening passes of the ISS this week
  • There are 4 bright evening flares: On 23rd at 18.35.24, 38 Deg. altitude SSE. On 24th at 17.12.28, 21 deg. alt. SSW. On 26th at 18.18.29, 11 deg. alt. WNW. On 27th at 18.03.34, 13 deg. alt. WNW and 18.20.18 at 38 deg.alt in S. and on 28th at 17.48.36 at 16 deg. alt. WNW.

 

Week of 16th January

 

  • Following the safe landing of the Stardust probe, another milestone in our exploration of the Solar System gets underway on Tuesday with the launch of the several times cancelled (due to Budget) New Horizons mission (originally Pluto-Kuiper express) which will head out to the last unexplored region of our Solar System for a close encounter with Pluto and its large moon Charon (and newly discovered 2 smaller moons) and then travel on into the Kuiper Belt. Arrival at Pluto is scheduled for 2015.
  • The Moon is now waning and will be Last Quarter next Sunday.
  • The Sun is spotless at present and quiet
  • The ISS makes 2 more low passes: On 16th at 17.19.48 W to SSE and 17th at 17.45.27 WSW to SSW.
  • There are 3 bright evening Iridium flares: On 19th at 17.24.13, 27 deg. altitude SSW and at 18.50.30 37 deg. alt. SSE and on 20th at 18.48.50 at 38 deg. alt. SSE

 

Week of 9th January

 

  • The Moon continues to wax and will be full (Wolf Moon) next Saturday. Having been close to Mars last week-end it will be close to Saturn this coming Sunday
  • The Sun remains quiet with almost no sun-spots
  • Next Sunday just before 10am the Stardust probe returns its samples of debris from the Coma of comet Wild 2, collected on gel-like fly paper it is hoped that the dust collected may give an insight into early Solar System formation
  • The week sees several passes of the ISS (the earlier passes in an evening are better): On 11th at 16.51.04 from W to E. On 12th at 17.15.51 W to ESE. and 18.51.15 W to SW. On 13th at 17.40.38 W to SE and 19.16.48 WSW to SW. On 14th at 18.05.32 W to SSE and 15th at 18.31.07 WSW to SSW.
  • There are 3 bright evening Iridium flares: On 12th at 16.36.39 at 29 deg. altitude in W and 17.48.11 at 31 deg. altitude in South and the best on 15th at 17.39.14 at 29 deg. altitude in SSW

2005 – What’s Up

Week of 19th December

 

  • The Moon is now waning and will be Last Quarter on Friday; it continues to dominate the night sky on its unusually high arc. On Monday the Moon will be close to Saturn in the pre-dawn western sky.
  • The Sun remains quiet
  • Venus is brilliant in the early evening dominating the south western sky
  • There are no visible passes of the ISS
  • There are 2 bright evening Iridium flares: On Monday at 17.51.58, 30 deg. altitude in S and on Friday at 17.37.01 at 28 deg. altitude in S

 

Week of 12th December

 

  • The Moon will be Full (Cold Moon) on Thursday. This is a Major Lunar Standstill. Every 18.6 or 19 years the Full Moon nearest the Winter Solstice (a Week on Wednesday) reaches its maximum Declination (+ 28 degrees) This means that the Moon from here will reach a maximum height of 67 degrees above the Horizon at Culmination
  • The Geminid meteor shower peaks during the night of Tuesday to Wednesday but the nearly Full Moon is likely to obscure all but the brightest meteors
  • Venus is now at its brightest in the early evening, though showing a crescent phase in a telescope with Mars and the Moon again close in the East at the same time
  • The Sun remains quiet
  • There are no evening ISS passes and only one Iridium flare of note: Next Saturday 17th December at 16.51.48 at 67 degress altitude in ENE

 

Week of 5th December

 

  • The Moon is First Quarter on Thursday
  • Venus and the cresent Moon are close on Sunday
  • The Sun has a fast growing spot on the Earth side which could give rise to activity at the start of the week
  • There are no ISS evening passes but there are two really bright Iridium flares: On Sunday 4th at 18.00.55 50 deg. altitude in NE; Monday 5th at 17.50.05, 52 deg. NE
  • Orion is now high in the evening sky and M42, the Orion nebula, is easy to pick out as a fuzzy patch half way down the sword hanging from the left hand side of the belt
  • If the night is clear and cold expect to see a good number of shooting stars per hour, the Geminids start from 6th and peak on 14th, but there are several minor showers active over the next couple of weeks (the Delta Arietids with a radiant in Aries) for example

 

Week of 28th November

 

  • The Moon is New on Wednesday
  • Venus is growing brighter by the day and with no Moon this week will dominate the early evening sky
  • The Sun is quiet again
  • There are no visible evening ISS passes
  • There are only two really bright evening Iridium flares: On Sunday at 16.40.17 at 71 deg. ENE and Monday at 16.34.10, 71 deg. altitude, ENE

 

Week of 21st November

 

  • The Moon is Last Quarter on Wednesday
  • The Sun has an active spot which could lead to activity this week
  • 3 Planets are now visible, though Venus sets soon after dark and Saturn is not yet prominent till late evening
  • The very cold nights (when not foggy) give a superb view of the Milky Way across the sky. By 10pm Orion is rising, a sure sign of approaching Christmas
  • The ISS has passed for the moment and there are only two bright evening Iridium flares: next Saturday at 16.46.25 70 deg. altitude NNE and Sunday at 16.40.17 71 deg. altitude ENE

 

Week of 14th November

 

  • The Moon will be Full (Frosty Moon) on Wednesday. Look for the bright ray craters Tycho and Copernicus
  • Mars will be 3 degrees South of the Moon on Tuesday
  • Venus now dominates the early evening sky in the West (twice as bright as fading Mars) setting around 6.00pm. Saturn is back in the late evening rising around 10.30pm in the East.
  • The Leonids meteor shower peaks on Thursday afternoon. This year it is predicted to be weak (20 per hour) and will not be very visible due to the Full Moon. there are still some bright late Taurids being seen
  • The Sun has developed a large spot 822 which may lead to some activity
  • There are several ISS passes as follows: Sunday 13th 17.58.08 W to ESE, Monday 16.49.19 W to E and 18.24.42 W to SSW, Tuesday 17.15.50 WSW to SSE and 18.51.30 W to SW, Wednesday 17.42.22 W to SE, Thursday 18.09.10 W to SSE, Friday 16.59.55 W to SE, Saturday 17.26.45 W to S and Sunday 16.46.10 WSW to S
  • The start of the week is good for Iridium flares as follows: The best (100 times brighter than Mars)is on Sunday 17.56.57 at 53 deg. altitude NNE then Monday 17.50.49 54 deg. alt NNE; Tuesday 17.44.51 at 54 deg. NE and Wednesday 17.38.34 55 deg. NE

 

Week of 7th November

 

  • Mars is at Opposition on Monday and remains dominant in the night sky, in the 10 inch it is almost too bright and requires filters to pick out surface detail
  • The Moon is First Quarter on Wednesday
  • There is still a chance of some bright Taurids at the start of the week
  • There are daily passes of the ISS just after dark as follows: Sunday 18.12.21 WSW to ESE, Monday 18.36.22 W to W, Tuesday 17.25.18 WSW to E, Wednesday 17.49.14 W to E, Thursday 18.13.12 W to E, Friday 17.01.56 W to E Saturday 17.31.35 W to E and Sunday 17.58.08 W to ESE.
  • There are 2 bright Iridium Flares on Saturday at 18.03.04 51 deg. altitude NNE and Sunday early in the morning at 06.37.02 28 deg. altitude ENE

 

Week of 31st October

 

  • The Taurids appear to be producing some fireballs (meteors brighter than -4)and this may be a swarm year where larger debris is being encountered. Watch out from 3rd November till mid-next week
  • The Moon will be New on Wednesday. This will give good dark skies (weather permitting!) for meteor and Mars watching.
  • Mars is now at its closest and will not be as close for 13 years. Features including dust storms can be made out on the disc
  • The Taurids meteor shower (debris from comet Encke), which has a double radiant and a long peak over 3rd till 7th November should show moderate activity
  • The ISS is back as follows: 5/11 17.48.39 SW to ESE, 6/11 18.12.29 WSW to ESE and 17.01.48 SW to E, 8/11 17.25.34 WSW to E. There are also some bright evening Iridium flares: 30/10 at 19.14.24 28 deg. altitude NNE, 31/10 19.08.08 at 30 deg. NNE, 3/11 16.53.15 at 72 deg. NE, 4/11 16.47.07 at 74 deg. NE and 5/11 16.41.00 at 74 deg. NE
  • The Sun remains quiet

 

Week of 24th October

 

  • Wednesday sees the launch of ESA’s Venus Express, our first return to the Planet for some time. Expected arrival is in early Arpil 2006 after a 153 day flight.
  • The Moon will be Last Quarter on Tuesday, with Saturn 4 deg. to the South
  • The Sun is spotless and little activity is expected
  • There are no ISS passes and only 2 Iridium flares of any note: On Tuesday at 20.46.24, 14 deg. altitude in N and Friday at 20.26.59, 24 deg. alt NNE.
  • Mars will be at its closest next Sunday (though at Opposition on 7th November)
  • Our clocks revert to GMT(UT) ie 1 hour back at 1am next Sunday 30th

 

Week of 17th October

 

  • The Moon is full on Monday (Hunter or Blood Moon). It will be partially eclipsed as well but this is not visible from here. We are entering Major Lunar Standstill season (this was an important marker in the calendars of the ancient (especially coastal dwelling) astronomers) and in December the full Moon will reach its highest point above the local horizon here, 67 deg. Even now the Moon will appear very high in the night sky.
  • The Sun is quiet with as expected very few spots
  • Mars grows and brightens and is now rising around 8pm. By 9.30pm it is within reach of the 10 inch
  • There are no ISS evening passes this week and only one Iridium flare of note , on Monday at 19.28.21 at 47 deg. altitude in NNE
  • The Orionids meteor shower (debris from comet Halley) peaks at 9am on Friday morning. It is worth observing on Thursday and Friday nights, though the Moon will not be helpfull.

 

Week of 10th October

 

  • The Moon is First Quarter on Monday
  • There is a chance of increased meteor activity from 8th till 10th this year. These are the Draconids (for a long time a minor shower) but they have reached storm proportions in the past and may do this year. The radiant is in Draco (to the West of Polaris and NW of Plough). These meteors are associated with the short period comet Giacobini-Zinner whose orbit is severely perturbed by regular close encounters with Jupiter
  • The Sun is quiet with one small spot
  • Mars is rapidly reaching its full glory as seen in 2003 and will be the best for the next 15 years by the end of the month. It has come 56 million miles closer to us since July this year. Many features are becomming visible in the 10 inch.
  • There are no ISS evening passes his week, but this is a good week for Iridium flares; On Sunday (9th)at 20.17.46 33 deg. altitude in N, Monday at 20.11.33 35 deg. alt in N, Tuesday 20.05.21 37 deg. alt in N, Wednesday 19.59.11 39 deg. alt in NNE, the best is on Thursday at 19.52.59 41 deg. alt in NNE, Friday at 19.46.49 42 deg. alt in NNE and Saturday at 19.40.39 44 deg. alt in NNE.

 

Week of 3rd October

 

  • The Partial eclipse on Monday at the New Moon has first contact at 8.42.53.1 hrs and last contact at 11.17.04.6 hrs. The maximum 67% eclipse will occur around 10am. N.B. It is not safe to view the partially eclipsed Sun without professional filters or Solar Viewers.
  • The Sun itself has no spots at all at present
  • Mars continues to brighten as it rises earlier
  • There are no evening ISS passes this week but there are 3 really bright Iridium flares: On Monday at 18.49.00 , altitude 63 deg. in N, Tuesday at 20.49.13 at 23 deg. altitude in N and on Wednesday at 20.42.45 at 25 deg. altitude in N.

 

Week of 26th September

 

  • The Sun is now quiet and little activity is expected
  • The Moon continues to wane and will be New on Monday 3rd and in exact line with the Sun. The Solar Eclipse produced will not be total due to the Moon being further from the Earth in its orbit and hence it will only block the centre of the Sun’s disc, producing a ring of photosphere at maximum (annular eclipse) this effect will be visible from Spain and North East Africa. From here we will see a partial eclipse (starting at 8.50am local time) where 67% (around 9.45am) of the Sun’s disc will be covered, the eclipse will end at 11.20am. This is the greatest partial eclipse extent visible from here till 4th January 2011.
  • The lack of Moon this week will again prove beneficial in viewing the outer planets and getting a good view of the suraface details on Mars; the southern polar ice cap is not so evident as in 2003 as its shrinks into Summer, but clouds over the growing northern cap can be made out in the 10 inch.
  • There are no ISS passes this week and no bright evening Iridium flares

 

Week of 19th September

 

  • Next Thursday 22nd is the Autumnal Equinox, the Sun rises due E and sets due W and after this rises progressivley further South
  • The Sun has now quietened down, though spot 798 still has a few days on the near side
  • The Moon will be last Quarter next Sunday
  • There are no ISS passes or bright Iridium flares this week
  • Mars is now rising around 9.30pm and is dominant in the eastern sky by 10pm

 

Week of 12th September

 

  • The Sun will remain highly active as spot 798 rotates to face the Earth. 9 large flares have now been detected since last Wednesday. The potential for disruptive magnetric storms and low-latitude auroras is very high, look out on the night of 14th and 15th if clear. A flare on 13th sent a Coronal Mass Ejection towards Earth. This has been the most active month since 1991 ! and we are nearly at Solar minimum
  • The Moon will be full next Sunday, this is the Harvest Moon
  • Mars continues to appear earlier and dominates the late evening eastern sky
  • The ISS has another week of passes: Monday 12th at 21.09.26 W to S; Tuesday 20.00.00 W to ESE and 21.35.42 W to SW; Wednesday 20.25.58 W to SE;Thursday 20.52.14 W to S; Friday 19.42.24 W to SE and Saturday 20.08.41 WSW to S
  • There is only only really bright Iridium flare on Wednesday at 20.42.40, 32 deg. altitude in N

 

Week of 5th September

 

  • The Sun is no longer quiet ! The massive spot 798 has returned at the Eastern limb and has already unleased 3 massive x-ray flares, the largest rated X17 (the 4th largest ever recorded) !. The next few days will see the possibility of strong magnetic storms. Communications could be effected and there is the possibility of face on Coronal Mass Ejections. Watch out for Auroras over the week-end.
  • The Moon will be 1st Quarter on Sunday
  • There will be a good gathering in the Western sky just after sunset on Wednesday when the Moon, Jupiter, Venus and the bright star Spica are all within a couple of degrees
  • This is the week for ISS passes with generally two evening sightings per night: Monday at 21.17.41 from W to E and 22.53.01 from W to E; Tuesday 20.08.32 WSW to E and 21.43.48 W to N;Wednesday 20.34.31 W to E, 22.09.51 W to W;Thursday 21.00.32 W to E, 22.35.52 W to E;Friday 21.26.29 W to SSE; Saturday 20.17.05 W to E, 21.52.25 W to WSW and Sunday 20.42.56 W to ESE and 22.18.33 W to W
  • There is only one bright Iridium flare on Wednesday at 21.39.22 15 deg. altitude in N

 

Week of 29th August

 

  • We are approaching a week of dark skies, the Moon is New next Saturday
  • Jupiter and Venus are close to each other in the West just as the Sun sets and Mars is bright orange rising late evening (11pm) in the East, just South of the Pleiades and Taurus, a signal that Autumn is approaching.
  • The Sun is quiet again after the activity of last week.
  • The ISS returns in the evening at the end of the week as follows: Thursday 21.08.19 from SSW to ESE; Friday 21.34.04 WSW to SE; Saturday 20.25.17 SW to E and 22.00.07 W to WSW and Sunday 20.50.58 WSW to E.
  • There are 3 bright evening Iridium passes, Sunday 28th at 23.56.26 altitude 10 deg. in W, Monday 23.33.59 12 deg. altitude in W and Tuesday 23.32.22, 11 deg. altitude in W

 

 

Apology: ISS times and Iridium times have been given in GMT, this was not clear and they will now be given consistently in Local time.

 

Week of 22nd August

 

  • The Moon will be last Quarter on Friday and the loss of Moonlight will allow better viewing of the outer planets at the end of the month
  • Mercury is at greatest elongation on Tuesday and Mars is just south of the Moon on Thursday
  • The Sun currently has a fast growing spot group 5 times the Earth in size and the days ahead will see some activity towards the Western limb
  • There are no evening ISS passes but there are 5 Iridium flares to look out for; Monday 22.47.03 at 22 deg. WSW, Tuesday 22.50.02 at 19 deg. WSW, Thursday 22.47.08 at 17 deg. WSW and 2 on Friday at 22.30.53 at 18 deg. WSW and 22.50.12 at 14 deg. W

 

Week of 15th August

 

  • The Moon will be full on Friday. This is known as the Red Moon (given the effect of Summer sultry haze, if weather permits !) In some cultures it is also known as the Sturgeon Moon being the time of year when they are best caught.
  • The Sun is relatively quiet at present with only one sunspot group, but magnetic activity is still likely towards the end of the week
  • There are no visible ISS passes (at least at a reasonable hour)
  • 4 bright Iridium flares may be seen: On Wednesday at 22.59.04, 28 deg. altitude in WSW; Thursday at 22.46.45, 29 deg. altitude WSW; Friday 20.20.35, 25 deg. altitude in N; Saturday 22.50.02, 25 deg. altitude WSW

 

Week of 8th August

 

  • The Space Shuttle Discovery is due to land on Tuesday morning after weather called off the Monday landing ‘windows’
  • The Perseid meteor shower peaks at 7.30pm on Friday. All through the week it is worth watching for the build up to 60 or 100 per hour, once the sky is dark enough.
  • The Moon will be First Quarter on Saturday
  • Neptune is at opposition on Monday and thus well placed for viewing later this month
  • The Sun has more potentially active groups which could unleash magnetic storms over the next few days
  • There are 4 bright evening Iridium flares to watch whilst waiting for Perseids: On Tuesday at 22.21.44, 17 deg. altitude looking W; Wednesday at 22.24.56, 15 deg. in W; Thursday 22.28.10, 13 deg. in W and Friday at 22.31.27, 11 deg. in WNW.

 

Week of 1st August

 

  • The Discovery shuttle crew are expected to be given the ‘all-clear’ to land next week-end having assessed the damage on take-off , though the mission has been extended by one day
  • The Moon will be New next Friday
  • The Sun has an active spot 792 and magnetic storms are expected during the week
  • There are no ISS passes but 4 bright evening Iridium flares. On Tuesday at 22.27.12, 28 deg. altitude looking W, on Wednesday at 23.43.32 at 46 deg. altitude SW, on Thursday at 22.24.16 25 deg. altitude in W and on Saturday at 22.21.24 22 deg. in W

 

Week of 25th July

 

  • The postponed first launch of the Shuttle following the Columbia accident (two and a half years ago) is now scheduled for Tuesday at 3.39 BST.
  • Thursday will be the last Quarter Moon
  • The Sun was totally quiet at the week-end with no sunspots at all, a sure sign of approaching Solar minimum (and the week of the Solar weather summer school course !) There is now one spot 791 which may grow. However on the far side there are two active regions which have alreday caused large Coronal Mass Ejections and may cause severe activity when they rotate into view, this could happen by Friday and give magnetic storms at the week-end
  • There are no ISS passes this week. 1 bright evening Iridium flare occurs on Tuesday at 20.42.50, at 21 deg. altitude in NNW.

 

Week of 18th July

 

  • Wednesday is the 36th anniversary of the fisrt (Apollo 11) Moon landing
  • The Moon will be full on Thursday (The Thunder Moon in Moon Lore)
  • For those awake early, look east before sunrise and Mars is now very prominent and red. In a small telescope the southern polar ice cap should be visible
  • There are 3 bright evening Iridium flares at the start of the week on 18th at 22.04.28 at 23 deg. altitude in W, on 19th at 23.15.17, 43 deg. in SW and on 20th at 22.01.41, 20 deg. in NNW

 

Week of 11th July

 

  • The Moon will be 1st Quarter on Thursday
  • At the start of the week the Moon, Mercury, Venus and Jupiter will all be close just after sunset
  • The Sun has a number of active groups again which could lead to flares
  • The ISS makes a couple more passes before another absense from our skies: On Monday at 21.40.36 W to SE and Wednesday 20.59.33 W to SE
  • There are 3 bright Iridium flares in the mid to late evening: On Monday at 22.19.07 33 deg. altitude in W, Thursday at 22.10.08, 29 deg. altitude in W and Friday at 23.30.27 at 48 deg. in SW

 

Week of 4th July

 

  • Monday 4th at 0650 BST the Deep Impact mission will send a 360 kg disc of copper into the nucleus of short period comet Tempel 1. The impact will hopefully lead to an increased knowledge of the composition and of the early Solar System. It will also demonstrate our ability to impact an approaching comet, though the change in this comet’s path will be negligable. The event will not be visible from the UK. Incidently the impactor, which will be vaporised carries a CD inscribed with the names of 14 GCSE Astronomers from the College (Class of 2004)
  • On Saturday the College will have access to the Dome as part of Prize Day. The Dome will be open from 10am till 5pm with an exhibition of past GCSE Moon Maps and if clear the Sun will be viewed in H alpha
  • The Moon is New on Wednesday
  • The Sun having been blank is now covered in fast developing spots, again unusual perhaps for the approaching Solar minimum
  • The ISS is back with 10 good passes this week: 3/7 21.16.17 WSW to E and 22.51.29 W to E. 4/7 21.42.24 WSW to E. 5/7 22.08.38 W to E. 6/7 22.34.51 W to ESE. 7/7 21.25.43 W to E. 8/7 21.51.54 W to ESE. 9/7 22.18.05 W to SE. 10/7 21.08.53 W to ESE. 11/7 21.35.02 W to SE
  • There are two bright eveing Iridium flares on 4/7 at 22.42.58 41 deg. altitude WSW and 8/7 at 22.27.57, 37 deg. altitude WSW

 

Week of 27th June

 

  • The Moon is at last Quarter on Tuesday.
  • The Planets Mercury and Venus are within 0.1 degrees on 27th with Saturn just below them. Look WNW between 10pm and 10.45pm.
  • The Sun now has two rapidly growing spots and there is a chance of Auroral activity on Saturday night
  • The ISS returns this week with good passes on Friday at 21.57.26 SW to E, Saturday 22.22.46 WSW to E and Sunday 21.13.07 SW to E.
  • There is one really bright Iridium flare scheduled for Thursday at 22.57.59, altitude 45 deg. WSW.

 

Week of 20th June

 

  • Tuesday 21st is the Summer Solstice, the longest day in the year when the Sun rises at its furthest North on the Eastern horizon and sets at its furthest North on the Western horizon
  • 22nd is the Full Moon (Honey Moon) and this will be the lowest Moon path on the sky since 1987 reaching barely 10 degrees above the horizon. This gives a chance to see the optical illusion of its abnormal size as it rises just before 10pm
  • There are no bright evening ISS passes and only one bright evening Iridium flare on 20th at 20.56.32, 54 deg. altitude in NE
  • The Sun is relatively quiet again
  • Observing is now hampered by twilight and it is only properly dark for a couple of hours in the middle of the night
  • The planets Mercury, Venus and Saturn are coming up to a close conjunction in the twilight low WNW sky, by the end of the week-end they will be all within one degree of each other and should be visible shortly after sunset (10.15pm)

 

Week of 13th June

 

  • The Moon wil be at first Quarter on Tuesday and will make a fine pairing close to Jupiter on Wednesday
  • There are no evening ISS passes his week. There are 2 bright Iridium flares on 14th at 21.23.26 at 46 deg. altitude NE and on 16th at 23.55.19, 55 deg. altitude in SSW
  • Sunspots 775 and 776 have grown and could give rise to magnetic storms. 776 is visible by unaided eye at around 5 times the size of the Earth, though do not look directly at the Sun to see it !

 

Week of 6th June

 

  • A New Moon on Monday means that we will have a dark week for Comet Tempel 1 viewing, perhaps on Monday or Tuesday when the forecast is clear and colder
  • Jupiter and the comet are close together so will make for good targets, Venus is now evident in the North West as the Sun sets and will be close to the crescent Moon on Friday
  • No ISS passes and only one evening Iridium flare on Thursday at 21.44.10, 38 deg. altitude in NE. The is a chance however to see a flare in daylight on Tuesday at 20.12.08, 67 deg. altitude in NE
  • The Sun has three groups of spots, one of these is growing rapidly and may give rise to magnetic storms

 

Week of 30th May

 

  • The Moon is now waning and giving dark skies for the rest of the week
  • Jupiter is now beginning to set in the west after midnight. Venus will get ever more noticeable in the early evening western sky.
  • Comet Temple 1 (the target for Deep Impact on 4th July) is hard to discern at 11th magnitude, but is sufficiently close to Jupiter to find in the 10inch.
  • The are no ISS passes this week and only one bright evening Iridium flare on 1st June at 22.13.19, 24 deg. altitude in NNE
  • The Sun now has an active growing sunspot no.767 which unleased a CME which is due to hit the Earth in the next couple of days and might trigger aurorae.

 

Week of 23rd May

 

  • 44 years ago on Wednesday President J.F. Kennedy announced his goal of landing on the Moon (it took just 8 years for this to happen). It looks as though within the next ten years we will be back.
  • The Moon will be full tomorrow, Monday. In Moon-lore this is the Flower Moon.
  • Venus is now discernable in the twilight of the setting Sun and will get progressively more prominent.
  • The Sun is almost spotless at present and certainly more as expected towards Solar minimum than last week-end’s activity would suggest.
  • No ISS passes this week and only two bright evening Iridium flares on 26th at 21.06.10, 50 deg. altitude in NE and on 28th at 22.27.30, 17 deg. altitude NNE.

 

Week of 16th May

 

  • The Moon will be first Quarter on Tuesday
  • The Sun unleashed a CME over the week-end and this hit Earth yesterday during the day, producing a severe geomagnetic storm. Despite Solar minimum approaching there still seems to be plenty going on.
  • After a week of superb ISS passes, there are only 2 more for a while. 16th 21.59.37 low in WSW to SW, 17th 20.50.03 W to SSE.
  • One bright Iridium flare on 17th 21.41.48 at 35 deg. altitude NE.

 

Week of 9th May

 

  • Saturday 14th sees the 32nd anniversary of the launch of the first major space station Skylab.
  • This week the Moon is new and waxing to First Quarter on 16th and so the dark skies will be ideal for viewing the last few Eta Aquarid meteors or the ISS which passes each evening.
  • ISS passes are as follows: 9th at 20.24.51 WSW to E and 22.00.14 W to E. 10th at 20.51.40 W to E and 22.27.02 W to SW. 11th at 21.18.28 W to ESE, 12th at 21.45.14 W to SE, 13th 20.31.36 W to ESE and 14th 21.03.20 W to SE.
  • 2 bright Iridium Flares this week occur on 10th at 22.05.01 at 24 deg. altitude in NNE and on 13th at 21.56.29, 29 deg. altitude in NE.
  • Jupiter will be viewed well this week. Venus is now back as an evening planet low down in the west after sunset and close to the New Moon.

 

Week of 2nd May

 

  • For anyone near to Oxford, there is a Public Lecture (The Halley Lecture) on ‘Massive Black Holes’ given by Prof. Reinhard Genzel of the Max Planck Institute in the Sir Martin Wood theatre of Clarendon Laboratory, Parks Road at 5pm on Tuesday.
  • This is a week of ISS passes as follows: 4th at 21.21 SW to ESE, 5th 21.51 WSW to E, 6th 20.40 SW to E also 22.15 W to ENE, 7th 21.06 WSW to E, 8th 21.33 W to E and 9/5 20.25 WSW to E. The will be one bright evening Iridium flare on 3rd at 21.03.52 altitude 47 deg. NE.
  • The Moon is waning and will be Dark next Sunday.
  • The Sun has a huge mature spot 756 (5 times Earth size) visible by unaided eye (don’t try to look though!)
  • The end of the week will be a good time for Jupiter watching

 

Week of 25th April

 

  • Bright evening Iridium flares may be seen on 25th at 19.58.37, altitude 67 deg. E and 21.33.34, 35 deg altitude NE, 29th at 21.18.45, 41 deg. altitude NE.
  • The Moon is now waning to first Quarter next Sunday
  • The Sun is spotless at present and little activity is expected
  • Jupiter will be getting better as the Moonlight fades and Neptune and Uranus are evening objects again though near the Moon this week.

 

Week of 18th April

 

  • Two bright iridium flares may be visible on 19th at 21.50.55, 25 deg altitude NE and on 22nd at 21.47.17, 29 deg altitude NE
  • The ISS is passing early in the morning this week
  • The Sun remains quiet
  • The Moon will be full on 24th this is the Pink Moon in Moon lore
  • The Lyrids meteor shower peaks on 22nd at 6.30am. The radient is high in the sky and typically 10 per hour may be seen. It is worth looking out from the beginning of the week

 

Week of 11th April

 

  • Two bright evening Iridium flares are potentially visible on 15th at 20.40.43, 51 deg, altitude ENE and on 17th at 21.53.27, 20 deg altitude NE
  • Having been active earlier in the week, the Sun is now quiet
  • The Moon is waxing to first Quarter on Saturday
  • Saturn will be close to the Moon on Friday and Jupiter continues to dominate the night sky with bright orange Arcturus further north in the eastern sky

 

Week of 4th April

 

  • No I.S.S. passes this week and only 2 bright evening Iridium flares on 4th at 21.19.26, 34 deg, altitude ENE and Thursday 21.10.36, 39 deg. ENE.
  • The Sun is not active and is showing very few spots. Solar minimum is due to occur next year 2006.
  • The Moon is waning and will be new next week-end.
  • Jupiter now dominates the night sky rising early evening in the East and is at its closest to Earth during the year. It is 3 times brighter than Sirius and its surface features are easily visible in a small telescope.

 

Week of 28th March

 

  • There is only one bright Iridium flare this week on Friday 1st April at 21.28.14 hrs, 29 deg. altitude ENE.
  • The Moon is waning to last Quarter by Saturday.
  • The Sun remains quiet.
  • Jupiter will be at Opposition on 3rd April. Io transits Jupiter and Europa appears from Occultation mid-evening on Monday 28th.

 

Week of 21st March

 

  • The I.S.S will make its last passes for a while this week, though they will be low in the sky apart from 21/3 7.36pm W to SSW and 23/3 6.55pm W to SSW.
  • There will be 3 bright Iridium flares 23/3 18.20.57 at 59 deg. N, 24/3 21.38.41 at 15 deg. NE 26/3 and 21.36.08 at 18 deg. NE
  • The Moon is waxing to full on Friday (‘Worm’ moon) and being the first full Moon after the Vernal Equinox (20/3) heralds Easter day next Sunday.
  • The Sun is still quiet though there is still prominence activity on the Eastern limb.
  • Jupiter is now a beutiful object in the mid-evening in the East and accessible in the 10 inch. Saturn is now firmly in the Western hemisphere during the evening.

 

Week of 14th March

 

  • Monday is the 126th anniversary of Einstein’s birth. 2005 is officially Einstein year to celebrate 100 years since the publication of his Special Theory of Relativity.
  • The I.S.S will be passing almost overhead each evening this week. (Data from heavensabove) The main passes are as follows. 13/3 7.05pm WSW to E, 14/3 7.33pm W to E, 15/3 8.01pm W to ENE, 16/3 6.53pm W to E, 17/3 7.21pm W to E, 18/3 7.48pm W to SE, 19/3 7.08pm W to ESE, hopefully the weather will allow viewing of one of these !
  • There are 3 bright Iridium flares: 13/3 19.13.11 alt 44 deg N, 14/3 19.39.23 alt 56 deg ESE and 19/3 19.18.14 alt 61 deg SE.
  • Mercury will be easy to see this week just after sunset, bright and low in West (probably orange due to the atmosphere). Saturn is almost overhead mid evening and Jupiter is now obvious and bright from about 8.30pm in East.
  • The Sun remains quiet
  • The Moon is waxing to first Quarter on Thursday.

 

Week of 7th March

 

  • This week in 1934 Yuri Gagarin was born.
  • The I.S.S. will be making passes this week. The following are bright evening events. Friday at 19.45.33 from WSW up to 56 deg altitude to SE (3 minutes) and Saturday 19.06.11 WSW to 62 deg to E (5 minutes). There are two bright Iridium flares on Wednesday 20.00.31 51 deg altitude direction 111 deg ESE and Thursday morning in daylight 08.52.50 at 78 deg direction 126 deg SE.
  • The Sun is still quiet.
  • The Moon is now waning and will be New on Thursday
  • Saturn is now high in the evening sky so well viewed (out of the atmopheric effects and light pollution at lower altitudes) this week with no Moon. Jupiter is now rising in the East around 9.30pm and is nearly an evening object in the 10 inch again.
  • Mercury is easily visible at sunset low in the West, near the crescent Moon on 11th

 

Week of 28th February

 

  • This week in 1966 Venera 3(USSR) was the first probe to reach Venus and in 1972 Pioneer 10 was launched to Jupiter
  • Having seen my first Iridium flare last week, I think they are worth looking out for if the sky is clear. The following are bright flares for this week (all data from heavens-above.com)on 28th at 16.13.38, 83 deg altitude and bearing 184 deg (S) on 2nd at 18.06.12, 64 deg bearing 12 deg (NNE) on 3rd at 18.00.05, 66 deg bearing 14 deg (NNE) and on 4th at 19.59.52, 27 deg bearing 8 deg (N). These are angles as from Marlborough. The flares are caused as various rotating Iridium communications satellites catch the Sun light in their orbits and due to their flat door shaped reflecting surfaces they can shine as bright as the Moon, typical flares last for 1 or 2 seconds.
  • The long filament on the Sun’s surface is now visible as a prominence above the western limb but the Sun remains relatively inactive.
  • The Moon is waning to last Quarter on Thursday.

 

Week of 21st February

 

  • This week in 1962 John Glenn became the first American Astronaut to orbit the Earth.
  • There will be an Iridium Flare visible in daylight from Marlborough at 14.33.11 on Thursday 24th. Look SSW (192 deg.) and at 52 deg. altitude
  • The Sun has only mature spots and is quiet. However an enormous loop of gas is suspended above the Sun’s surface facing us and appears as a dark filament, it is equivalent to the Earth-Moon distance in length.
  • The Moon will be full on Thursday (Snow Moon), its name may well be appropriate this week if the forecasts are correct.
  • Saturn is rather washed out by the Moonlight this week and Jupiter is still a middle of the night target.

 

Week of 14th February

 

  • This week marks two historic birthdays, Copernicus in 1473 and Galileo in 1564. Valentine’s Day in 2001 marked the first pictures being sent back from the surface of an Asteroid (Eros)
  • The Sun is relatively quiet at present and spot 720 has all but disappeared.
  • The Moon in waxing to 1st Quarter on Wednesday and is presently showing clear Earth-shine on the dark hemisphere.
  • Comet Machholz is now barely discernable by eye, but is still ok in Binos. It is now high in the North-Western sky half way between Cassiopeia and the Pole Star, being close to the pole it is harder to follow with the Earth’s rotation.
  • For those with telescopes Saturn is very close (just to the left) to the Eskimo Planetary nebula and look out (by unaided eye) for the pretty Beehive Open Cluster (M44) about 15 degrees below Saturn in Cancer.

 

Week of 7th Febrauary

 

  • This week in 1999 the NASA probe Stardust was launched. It successfully collected samples from within 250km of the nucleus of Comet P/Wild 2 at the end of 2003. The samples will be returned to Earth on January 15th 2006. The hope is that there may be signs of biological molecules.
  • Recently discovered 320m wide Asteroid 2004 MN4 will pass the Earth in 2029 on April 13th at a distance of only 30,000km and will be as bright as a 3rd magnitude star..something to look forward to !
  • Sunspot 720 is looming on the Sun’s eastern limb and may bring a significant rise in Solar activity over the next few days.
  • The Moon will be New on Tuesday.
  • All week will be good for Comet Machholz in Binos, if we get a clear night !.

 

Week of 31st January

 

  • This week two years ago Space Shuttle Columbia broke up on reentry killing all 7 on board. In 1974 the probe Mariner 10 took the first close up images of Venus
  • The Moon is now waning and will be new by the start of next week.
  • The Sun is presently quiet but spot 720 may well return by the middle of the next week
  • Comet Machholz though now at the limit of naked eye visability is still clear in Binos and with the lack of Moon this week and given its high altitude (next to the W of Cassiopeia) it is not badly affected by scattered light

 

Week of 24th January

 

  • This week marks the 19th anniversary of 2 major astronomical events. In 1986 Voyager 2 became the first space probe to pass by Uranus and later that week the Challenger Space Shuttle blew up on take off killing all 7 crew.
  • The Moon will be full on Monday night (Wolf Moon)
  • The vast sunspot 720 has gone round the western limb and the Sun is now quiet, but the spot may still be in existense when the Sun has made another half rotation

 

Week of 17th January

 

  • The Moon is waxing throughout the week and will be full on 25th.
  • Saturn is well placed for viewing at present and showing plenty of detail in the 10 inch.
  • Comet Machholz continues to head higher in the sky towards H and Chi Perseii (Double Open Cluster)and is fading in brightness.
  • The Sun has released 2 Coronal Mass Ejections over the week-end and spot 720 is now bigger than Jupiter. High magnetic activity is expected with chances of Aurorae at the start of the week.

 

Week of 10th January

 

  • On Thursday the NASA Deep Impact mission is launched. This is the first mission to aim to impact a comet’s nucleus (Temple 1) to reveal what it is made of and to release material which will shed light on the early Solar Sustem. On Friday the ESA Huygens probe will descend into the atmosphere of Titan, the largest moon of Saturn and hopefully reveal one of the greatest mysteries of the Solar System, the moon’s composition.
  • Monday 10th is a New Moon which will wax to first quarter by the end of the week. If the forecast is correct there could be some clear dark skies during the week (Tuesday and Wednesday)
  • Comet Machholz is now past the Pleiades and heading up towards Perseus. It will remain a naked-eye object till next week.
  • Saturn will be at opposition on Thursday and thus well placed for observation.
  • The Sun has suddenly grown a very large sunspot (visble to the unaided eye, but don’t look directly at the Sun !) This could give rise to increased Solar activity.

 

Week of 3rd January

 

  • Monday 3rd the Quadrantids meteor shower peaks at 12.20 pm. There should be meteors visible on Monday and Tuesday nights. The radiant is between the Pole star and the tail of the Plough (The constellation Quadrans Muralis is now no longer recognised)
  • Comet Machholz is now brightening to its maximum by the end of the week and will be only 2 degrees from the Pleiades Open cluster on Friday 7th. It is now distinctly green in colour (due to Carbon and CN in its coma) Its straight ion tail is now visible in the telescope and the dust tail, but this is very faint. If the night is clear, the comet and its ion tail are easy now by unaided eye.
  • Saturn will be only 7 degrees from Pollux on 6th.
  • The Sun has now quietened down and its disc is almost blank.

2004 – What’s Up

Week of 27th December

 

  • Monday 27th the Moon is at apogee (furthest from Earth in its orbit) thus the full Moon of Boxing day was the smallest in 2004(though it is bright as the Earth approaches perihelion). The Moon will wane during the week and by next week the comet should be more visible. All 5 ‘ancient’ planets are visible just before sunrise (5.30 till 6.30am)Mercury nearest the horizonvery close to bright Venus with fainter Mars just higher dont mistake the bright red star Antares about the same altitude as Venus. Jupiter is bright high in the South-Eastern sky and Saturn bright with Gemini in the West.

 

Week of 20th December

 

  • Tuesday 21st is the Winter Solstice at 12.42pm.
  • The great Winter sky of Gemini (+ Saturn)Procyon, Sirius, Orion, Hyades and Pleiades is now prominent in the mid evening sky in SE.
  • The Moon will be full next Sunday and its scattered light is obscuring the fainter objects.
  • The Ursids metoer shower peaks on Wednesday at 5.05am, with the Radiant in Ursa Minor (near Polaris)this shower rarely gives many meteors per hour.
  • Comet Machholz is climbing higher in the sky and speeding up as it approaches the Sun. Though now brighter and visible by unaided eye, the Moon will make it hard to see till the New Year, when it will be heading into Taurus and towards the Pleiades.

 

Week of 13th December

 

  • Saturn is now clear of the horizon haze by mid-evening and is a fine sight in a small telescope. If we get a clear night the 10inch will certainly target it.
  • The Moon is now waxing and will be at first Quarter in time for the Tour of the Winter Sky at the end of the week.
  • The Sun is a little more active again but aurorae are only likely at high latitudes (just in case your holidays are taking you North!)
  • The Geminids meteor shower is due to peak on Monday at 8.45pm and given the lack of Moon could be good, except for the poor forecast.
  • There is now a Comet visible to the unaided eye and good in the telescope. This is Comet Machholz and it will be getting brighter over Christmas. It is easy to find at about 4 o’clock from the bottom right foot of Orion (Rigel) (see Solar Weather link for details)

 

Week of 6th December

 

  • The morning sky just before dawn is the time to see planets at the moment. On Tuesday Jupiter and its moons will be right next to the Moon (in fact from eastern USA Jupiter will be eclipsed). On Friday Mars will be just above the Moon and Venus just above Mars. Saturn continues to improve as an evening object.
  • The Moon is waning and will be New again next Sunday.
  • Solar activity has calmed and no storms are currently predicted.
  • Next Saturday there is a chance to see a daylight Iridium flare (associated with one of the Iridium satellites) It will occur just after 8.27am, 49 degrees above the ENE horizon (bearing 73 degrees)
  • Look out for early Geminid meteors as the end of the week approaches.

 

Week of 29th November

 

  • Venus and Jupiter continue to separate in the early morning sky and Saturn to become ever more prominent in the Eastern evening sky. Mars will also be visible next to Venus by the end of the week, but much fainter.
  • The Moon is now waning and will be at Last Quarter by next Sunday.
  • Solar activity is expected to rise again and there is a chance of magnetic storms by mid-week

 

Week of 22nd November

 

  • Venus, Jupiter and Saturn are all visible in the early morning sky, with Jupiter and especially Venus being visible for some time after sunrise. Saturn is now a prominent bright orange light low in the late Eastern evening sky from about 9pm.
  • The Moon is now waxing and will be full on Friday

 

Week of 15th November

 

  • Venus and Jupiter are obvious bright objects in the early morning sky. Saturn has returned to the night sky, rising in the east after sunset directly below Gemini (Castor and Pollux), although not at a high enough altitude for the 10″ until 11pm.
  • The Moon is growing to 1st quarter by the end of the week.
  • Leonids Meteor shower is due to peak on Friday evening but keep watching during the week!
  • Solar activity has declined, but the large Sun spot which caused last weeks Aurorae is likely to return next week.

 

Week of 5th December

 

  • The Moon is First Quarter on Thursday
  • Venus and the cresent Moon are close on Sunday
  • The Sun has a fast growing spot on the Earth side which could give rise to activity at the start of the week
  • There are no ISS evening passes but there are two really bright Iridium flares: On Sunday 4th at 18.00.55 50 deg. altitude in NE; Monday 5th at 17.50.05, 52 deg. NE
  • Orion is now high in the evening sky and M42, the Orion nebula, is easy to pick out as a fuzzy patch half way down the sword hanging from the left hand side of the belt
  • If the night is clear and cold expect to see a good number of shooting stars per hour, the Geminids start from 6th and peak on 14th, but there are several minor showers active over the next couple of weeks (the Delta Arietids with a radiant in Aries) for example

 

Week of 28th November

 

  • The Moon is New on Wednesday
  • Venus is growing brighter by the day and with no Moon this week will dominate the early evening sky
  • The Sun is quiet again
  • There are no visible evening ISS passes
  • There are only two really bright evening Iridium flares: On Sunday at 16.40.17 at 71 deg. ENE and Monday at 16.34.10, 71 deg. altitude, ENE

 

Week of 21st November

 

  • The Moon is Last Quarter on Wednesday
  • The Sun has an active spot which could lead to activity this week
  • 3 Planets are now visible, though Venus sets soon after dark and Saturn is not yet prominent till late evening
  • The very cold nights (when not foggy) give a superb view of the Milky Way across the sky. By 10pm Orion is rising, a sure sign of approaching Christmas
  • The ISS has passed for the moment and there are only two bright evening Iridium flares: next Saturday at 16.46.25 70 deg. altitude NNE and Sunday at 16.40.17 71 deg. altitude ENE

 

Week of 14th November

 

  • The Moon will be Full (Frosty Moon) on Wednesday. Look for the bright ray craters Tycho and Copernicus
  • Mars will be 3 degrees South of the Moon on Tuesday
  • Venus now dominates the early evening sky in the West (twice as bright as fading Mars) setting around 6.00pm. Saturn is back in the late evening rising around 10.30pm in the East.
  • The Leonids meteor shower peaks on Thursday afternoon. This year it is predicted to be weak (20 per hour) and will not be very visible due to the Full Moon. there are still some bright late Taurids being seen
  • The Sun has developed a large spot 822 which may lead to some activity
  • There are several ISS passes as follows: Sunday 13th 17.58.08 W to ESE, Monday 16.49.19 W to E and 18.24.42 W to SSW, Tuesday 17.15.50 WSW to SSE and 18.51.30 W to SW, Wednesday 17.42.22 W to SE, Thursday 18.09.10 W to SSE, Friday 16.59.55 W to SE, Saturday 17.26.45 W to S and Sunday 16.46.10 WSW to S
  • The start of the week is good for Iridium flares as follows: The best (100 times brighter than Mars)is on Sunday 17.56.57 at 53 deg. altitude NNE then Monday 17.50.49 54 deg. alt NNE; Tuesday 17.44.51 at 54 deg. NE and Wednesday 17.38.34 55 deg. NE

 

Week of 7th November

 

  • Mars is at Opposition on Monday and remains dominant in the night sky, in the 10 inch it is almost too bright and requires filters to pick out surface detail
  • The Moon is First Quarter on Wednesday
  • There is still a chance of some bright Taurids at the start of the week
  • There are daily passes of the ISS just after dark as follows: Sunday 18.12.21 WSW to ESE, Monday 18.36.22 W to W, Tuesday 17.25.18 WSW to E, Wednesday 17.49.14 W to E, Thursday 18.13.12 W to E, Friday 17.01.56 W to E Saturday 17.31.35 W to E and Sunday 17.58.08 W to ESE.
  • There are 2 bright Iridium Flares on Saturday at 18.03.04 51 deg. altitude NNE and Sunday early in the morning at 06.37.02 28 deg. altitude ENE

 

Week of 31st October

 

  • The Taurids appear to be producing some fireballs (meteors brighter than -4)and this may be a swarm year where larger debris is being encountered. Watch out from 3rd November till mid-next week
  • The Moon will be New on Wednesday. This will give good dark skies (weather permitting!) for meteor and Mars watching.
  • Mars is now at its closest and will not be as close for 13 years. Features including dust storms can be made out on the disc
  • The Taurids meteor shower (debris from comet Encke), which has a double radiant and a long peak over 3rd till 7th November should show moderate activity
  • The ISS is back as follows: 5/11 17.48.39 SW to ESE, 6/11 18.12.29 WSW to ESE and 17.01.48 SW to E, 8/11 17.25.34 WSW to E. There are also some bright evening Iridium flares: 30/10 at 19.14.24 28 deg. altitude NNE, 31/10 19.08.08 at 30 deg. NNE, 3/11 16.53.15 at 72 deg. NE, 4/11 16.47.07 at 74 deg. NE and 5/11 16.41.00 at 74 deg. NE
  • The Sun remains quiet

 

Week of 24th October

 

  • Wednesday sees the launch of ESA’s Venus Express, our first return to the Planet for some time. Expected arrival is in early Arpil 2006 after a 153 day flight.
  • The Moon will be Last Quarter on Tuesday, with Saturn 4 deg. to the South
  • The Sun is spotless and little activity is expected
  • There are no ISS passes and only 2 Iridium flares of any note: On Tuesday at 20.46.24, 14 deg. altitude in N and Friday at 20.26.59, 24 deg. alt NNE.
  • Mars will be at its closest next Sunday (though at Opposition on 7th November)
  • Our clocks revert to GMT(UT) ie 1 hour back at 1am next Sunday 30th

 

Week of 17th October

 

  • The Moon is full on Monday (Hunter or Blood Moon). It will be partially eclipsed as well but this is not visible from here. We are entering Major Lunar Standstill season (this was an important marker in the calendars of the ancient (especially coastal dwelling) astronomers) and in December the full Moon will reach its highest point above the local horizon here, 67 deg. Even now the Moon will appear very high in the night sky.
  • The Sun is quiet with as expected very few spots
  • Mars grows and brightens and is now rising around 8pm. By 9.30pm it is within reach of the 10 inch
  • There are no ISS evening passes this week and only one Iridium flare of note , on Monday at 19.28.21 at 47 deg. altitude in NNE
  • The Orionids meteor shower (debris from comet Halley) peaks at 9am on Friday morning. It is worth observing on Thursday and Friday nights, though the Moon will not be helpfull.

 

Week of 10th October

 

  • The Moon is First Quarter on Monday
  • There is a chance of increased meteor activity from 8th till 10th this year. These are the Draconids (for a long time a minor shower) but they have reached storm proportions in the past and may do this year. The radiant is in Draco (to the West of Polaris and NW of Plough). These meteors are associated with the short period comet Giacobini-Zinner whose orbit is severely perturbed by regular close encounters with Jupiter
  • The Sun is quiet with one small spot
  • Mars is rapidly reaching its full glory as seen in 2003 and will be the best for the next 15 years by the end of the month. It has come 56 million miles closer to us since July this year. Many features are becomming visible in the 10 inch.
  • There are no ISS evening passes his week, but this is a good week for Iridium flares; On Sunday (9th)at 20.17.46 33 deg. altitude in N, Monday at 20.11.33 35 deg. alt in N, Tuesday 20.05.21 37 deg. alt in N, Wednesday 19.59.11 39 deg. alt in NNE, the best is on Thursday at 19.52.59 41 deg. alt in NNE, Friday at 19.46.49 42 deg. alt in NNE and Saturday at 19.40.39 44 deg. alt in NNE.

 

Week of 3rd October

 

  • The Partial eclipse on Monday at the New Moon has first contact at 8.42.53.1 hrs and last contact at 11.17.04.6 hrs. The maximum 67% eclipse will occur around 10am. N.B. It is not safe to view the partially eclipsed Sun without professional filters or Solar Viewers.
  • The Sun itself has no spots at all at present
  • Mars continues to brighten as it rises earlier
  • There are no evening ISS passes this week but there are 3 really bright Iridium flares: On Monday at 18.49.00 , altitude 63 deg. in N, Tuesday at 20.49.13 at 23 deg. altitude in N and on Wednesday at 20.42.45 at 25 deg. altitude in N.

 

Week of 26th September

 

  • The Sun is now quiet and little activity is expected
  • The Moon continues to wane and will be New on Monday 3rd and in exact line with the Sun. The Solar Eclipse produced will not be total due to the Moon being further from the Earth in its orbit and hence it will only block the centre of the Sun’s disc, producing a ring of photosphere at maximum (annular eclipse) this effect will be visible from Spain and North East Africa. From here we will see a partial eclipse (starting at 8.50am local time) where 67% (around 9.45am) of the Sun’s disc will be covered, the eclipse will end at 11.20am. This is the greatest partial eclipse extent visible from here till 4th January 2011.
  • The lack of Moon this week will again prove beneficial in viewing the outer planets and getting a good view of the suraface details on Mars; the southern polar ice cap is not so evident as in 2003 as its shrinks into Summer, but clouds over the growing northern cap can be made out in the 10 inch.
  • There are no ISS passes this week and no bright evening Iridium flares

 

Week of 19th September

 

  • Next Thursday 22nd is the Autumnal Equinox, the Sun rises due E and sets due W and after this rises progressivley further South
  • The Sun has now quietened down, though spot 798 still has a few days on the near side
  • The Moon will be last Quarter next Sunday
  • There are no ISS passes or bright Iridium flares this week
  • Mars is now rising around 9.30pm and is dominant in the eastern sky by 10pm

 

Week of 12th September

 

  • The Sun will remain highly active as spot 798 rotates to face the Earth. 9 large flares have now been detected since last Wednesday. The potential for disruptive magnetric storms and low-latitude auroras is very high, look out on the night of 14th and 15th if clear. A flare on 13th sent a Coronal Mass Ejection towards Earth. This has been the most active month since 1991 ! and we are nearly at Solar minimum
  • The Moon will be full next Sunday, this is the Harvest Moon
  • Mars continues to appear earlier and dominates the late evening eastern sky
  • The ISS has another week of passes: Monday 12th at 21.09.26 W to S; Tuesday 20.00.00 W to ESE and 21.35.42 W to SW; Wednesday 20.25.58 W to SE;Thursday 20.52.14 W to S; Friday 19.42.24 W to SE and Saturday 20.08.41 WSW to S
  • There is only only really bright Iridium flare on Wednesday at 20.42.40, 32 deg. altitude in N

 

Week of 5th September

 

  • The Sun is no longer quiet ! The massive spot 798 has returned at the Eastern limb and has already unleased 3 massive x-ray flares, the largest rated X17 (the 4th largest ever recorded) !. The next few days will see the possibility of strong magnetic storms. Communications could be effected and there is the possibility of face on Coronal Mass Ejections. Watch out for Auroras over the week-end.
  • The Moon will be 1st Quarter on Sunday
  • There will be a good gathering in the Western sky just after sunset on Wednesday when the Moon, Jupiter, Venus and the bright star Spica are all within a couple of degrees
  • This is the week for ISS passes with generally two evening sightings per night: Monday at 21.17.41 from W to E and 22.53.01 from W to E; Tuesday 20.08.32 WSW to E and 21.43.48 W to N;Wednesday 20.34.31 W to E, 22.09.51 W to W;Thursday 21.00.32 W to E, 22.35.52 W to E;Friday 21.26.29 W to SSE; Saturday 20.17.05 W to E, 21.52.25 W to WSW and Sunday 20.42.56 W to ESE and 22.18.33 W to W
  • There is only one bright Iridium flare on Wednesday at 21.39.22 15 deg. altitude in N

 

Week of 29th August

 

  • We are approaching a week of dark skies, the Moon is New next Saturday
  • Jupiter and Venus are close to each other in the West just as the Sun sets and Mars is bright orange rising late evening (11pm) in the East, just South of the Pleiades and Taurus, a signal that Autumn is approaching.
  • The Sun is quiet again after the activity of last week.
  • The ISS returns in the evening at the end of the week as follows: Thursday 21.08.19 from SSW to ESE; Friday 21.34.04 WSW to SE; Saturday 20.25.17 SW to E and 22.00.07 W to WSW and Sunday 20.50.58 WSW to E.
  • There are 3 bright evening Iridium passes, Sunday 28th at 23.56.26 altitude 10 deg. in W, Monday 23.33.59 12 deg. altitude in W and Tuesday 23.32.22, 11 deg. altitude in W

 

 

Apology: ISS times and Iridium times have been given in GMT, this was not clear and they will now be given consistently in Local time.

 

Week of 22nd August

 

  • The Moon will be last Quarter on Friday and the loss of Moonlight will allow better viewing of the outer planets at the end of the month
  • Mercury is at greatest elongation on Tuesday and Mars is just south of the Moon on Thursday
  • The Sun currently has a fast growing spot group 5 times the Earth in size and the days ahead will see some activity towards the Western limb
  • There are no evening ISS passes but there are 5 Iridium flares to look out for; Monday 22.47.03 at 22 deg. WSW, Tuesday 22.50.02 at 19 deg. WSW, Thursday 22.47.08 at 17 deg. WSW and 2 on Friday at 22.30.53 at 18 deg. WSW and 22.50.12 at 14 deg. W

 

Week of 15th August

 

  • The Moon will be full on Friday. This is known as the Red Moon (given the effect of Summer sultry haze, if weather permits !) In some cultures it is also known as the Sturgeon Moon being the time of year when they are best caught.
  • The Sun is relatively quiet at present with only one sunspot group, but magnetic activity is still likely towards the end of the week
  • There are no visible ISS passes (at least at a reasonable hour)
  • 4 bright Iridium flares may be seen: On Wednesday at 22.59.04, 28 deg. altitude in WSW; Thursday at 22.46.45, 29 deg. altitude WSW; Friday 20.20.35, 25 deg. altitude in N; Saturday 22.50.02, 25 deg. altitude WSW

 

Week of 8th August

 

  • The Space Shuttle Discovery is due to land on Tuesday morning after weather called off the Monday landing ‘windows’
  • The Perseid meteor shower peaks at 7.30pm on Friday. All through the week it is worth watching for the build up to 60 or 100 per hour, once the sky is dark enough.
  • The Moon will be First Quarter on Saturday
  • Neptune is at opposition on Monday and thus well placed for viewing later this month
  • The Sun has more potentially active groups which could unleash magnetic storms over the next few days
  • There are 4 bright evening Iridium flares to watch whilst waiting for Perseids: On Tuesday at 22.21.44, 17 deg. altitude looking W; Wednesday at 22.24.56, 15 deg. in W; Thursday 22.28.10, 13 deg. in W and Friday at 22.31.27, 11 deg. in WNW.

 

Week of 1st August

 

  • The Discovery shuttle crew are expected to be given the ‘all-clear’ to land next week-end having assessed the damage on take-off , though the mission has been extended by one day
  • The Moon will be New next Friday
  • The Sun has an active spot 792 and magnetic storms are expected during the week
  • There are no ISS passes but 4 bright evening Iridium flares. On Tuesday at 22.27.12, 28 deg. altitude looking W, on Wednesday at 23.43.32 at 46 deg. altitude SW, on Thursday at 22.24.16 25 deg. altitude in W and on Saturday at 22.21.24 22 deg. in W

 

Week of 25th July

 

  • The postponed first launch of the Shuttle following the Columbia accident (two and a half years ago) is now scheduled for Tuesday at 3.39 BST.
  • Thursday will be the last Quarter Moon
  • The Sun was totally quiet at the week-end with no sunspots at all, a sure sign of approaching Solar minimum (and the week of the Solar weather summer school course !) There is now one spot 791 which may grow. However on the far side there are two active regions which have alreday caused large Coronal Mass Ejections and may cause severe activity when they rotate into view, this could happen by Friday and give magnetic storms at the week-end
  • There are no ISS passes this week. 1 bright evening Iridium flare occurs on Tuesday at 20.42.50, at 21 deg. altitude in NNW.

 

Week of 18th July

 

  • Wednesday is the 36th anniversary of the fisrt (Apollo 11) Moon landing
  • The Moon will be full on Thursday (The Thunder Moon in Moon Lore)
  • For those awake early, look east before sunrise and Mars is now very prominent and red. In a small telescope the southern polar ice cap should be visible
  • There are 3 bright evening Iridium flares at the start of the week on 18th at 22.04.28 at 23 deg. altitude in W, on 19th at 23.15.17, 43 deg. in SW and on 20th at 22.01.41, 20 deg. in NNW

 

Week of 11th July

 

  • The Moon will be 1st Quarter on Thursday
  • At the start of the week the Moon, Mercury, Venus and Jupiter will all be close just after sunset
  • The Sun has a number of active groups again which could lead to flares
  • The ISS makes a couple more passes before another absense from our skies: On Monday at 21.40.36 W to SE and Wednesday 20.59.33 W to SE
  • There are 3 bright Iridium flares in the mid to late evening: On Monday at 22.19.07 33 deg. altitude in W, Thursday at 22.10.08, 29 deg. altitude in W and Friday at 23.30.27 at 48 deg. in SW

 

Week of 4th July

 

  • Monday 4th at 0650 BST the Deep Impact mission will send a 360 kg disc of copper into the nucleus of short period comet Tempel 1. The impact will hopefully lead to an increased knowledge of the composition and of the early Solar System. It will also demonstrate our ability to impact an approaching comet, though the change in this comet’s path will be negligable. The event will not be visible from the UK. Incidently the impactor, which will be vaporised carries a CD inscribed with the names of 14 GCSE Astronomers from the College (Class of 2004)
  • On Saturday the College will have access to the Dome as part of Prize Day. The Dome will be open from 10am till 5pm with an exhibition of past GCSE Moon Maps and if clear the Sun will be viewed in H alpha
  • The Moon is New on Wednesday
  • The Sun having been blank is now covered in fast developing spots, again unusual perhaps for the approaching Solar minimum
  • The ISS is back with 10 good passes this week: 3/7 21.16.17 WSW to E and 22.51.29 W to E. 4/7 21.42.24 WSW to E. 5/7 22.08.38 W to E. 6/7 22.34.51 W to ESE. 7/7 21.25.43 W to E. 8/7 21.51.54 W to ESE. 9/7 22.18.05 W to SE. 10/7 21.08.53 W to ESE. 11/7 21.35.02 W to SE
  • There are two bright eveing Iridium flares on 4/7 at 22.42.58 41 deg. altitude WSW and 8/7 at 22.27.57, 37 deg. altitude WSW

 

Week of 27th June

 

  • The Moon is at last Quarter on Tuesday.
  • The Planets Mercury and Venus are within 0.1 degrees on 27th with Saturn just below them. Look WNW between 10pm and 10.45pm.
  • The Sun now has two rapidly growing spots and there is a chance of Auroral activity on Saturday night
  • The ISS returns this week with good passes on Friday at 21.57.26 SW to E, Saturday 22.22.46 WSW to E and Sunday 21.13.07 SW to E.
  • There is one really bright Iridium flare scheduled for Thursday at 22.57.59, altitude 45 deg. WSW.

 

Week of 20th June

 

  • Tuesday 21st is the Summer Solstice, the longest day in the year when the Sun rises at its furthest North on the Eastern horizon and sets at its furthest North on the Western horizon
  • 22nd is the Full Moon (Honey Moon) and this will be the lowest Moon path on the sky since 1987 reaching barely 10 degrees above the horizon. This gives a chance to see the optical illusion of its abnormal size as it rises just before 10pm
  • There are no bright evening ISS passes and only one bright evening Iridium flare on 20th at 20.56.32, 54 deg. altitude in NE
  • The Sun is relatively quiet again
  • Observing is now hampered by twilight and it is only properly dark for a couple of hours in the middle of the night
  • The planets Mercury, Venus and Saturn are coming up to a close conjunction in the twilight low WNW sky, by the end of the week-end they will be all within one degree of each other and should be visible shortly after sunset (10.15pm)

 

Week of 13th June

 

  • The Moon wil be at first Quarter on Tuesday and will make a fine pairing close to Jupiter on Wednesday
  • There are no evening ISS passes his week. There are 2 bright Iridium flares on 14th at 21.23.26 at 46 deg. altitude NE and on 16th at 23.55.19, 55 deg. altitude in SSW
  • Sunspots 775 and 776 have grown and could give rise to magnetic storms. 776 is visible by unaided eye at around 5 times the size of the Earth, though do not look directly at the Sun to see it !

 

Week of 6th June

 

  • A New Moon on Monday means that we will have a dark week for Comet Tempel 1 viewing, perhaps on Monday or Tuesday when the forecast is clear and colder
  • Jupiter and the comet are close together so will make for good targets, Venus is now evident in the North West as the Sun sets and will be close to the crescent Moon on Friday
  • No ISS passes and only one evening Iridium flare on Thursday at 21.44.10, 38 deg. altitude in NE. The is a chance however to see a flare in daylight on Tuesday at 20.12.08, 67 deg. altitude in NE
  • The Sun has three groups of spots, one of these is growing rapidly and may give rise to magnetic storms

 

Week of 30th May

 

  • The Moon is now waning and giving dark skies for the rest of the week
  • Jupiter is now beginning to set in the west after midnight. Venus will get ever more noticeable in the early evening western sky.
  • Comet Temple 1 (the target for Deep Impact on 4th July) is hard to discern at 11th magnitude, but is sufficiently close to Jupiter to find in the 10inch.
  • The are no ISS passes this week and only one bright evening Iridium flare on 1st June at 22.13.19, 24 deg. altitude in NNE
  • The Sun now has an active growing sunspot no.767 which unleased a CME which is due to hit the Earth in the next couple of days and might trigger aurorae.

 

Week of 23rd May

 

  • 44 years ago on Wednesday President J.F. Kennedy announced his goal of landing on the Moon (it took just 8 years for this to happen). It looks as though within the next ten years we will be back.
  • The Moon will be full tomorrow, Monday. In Moon-lore this is the Flower Moon.
  • Venus is now discernable in the twilight of the setting Sun and will get progressively more prominent.
  • The Sun is almost spotless at present and certainly more as expected towards Solar minimum than last week-end’s activity would suggest.
  • No ISS passes this week and only two bright evening Iridium flares on 26th at 21.06.10, 50 deg. altitude in NE and on 28th at 22.27.30, 17 deg. altitude NNE.

 

Week of 16th May

 

  • The Moon will be first Quarter on Tuesday
  • The Sun unleashed a CME over the week-end and this hit Earth yesterday during the day, producing a severe geomagnetic storm. Despite Solar minimum approaching there still seems to be plenty going on.
  • After a week of superb ISS passes, there are only 2 more for a while. 16th 21.59.37 low in WSW to SW, 17th 20.50.03 W to SSE.
  • One bright Iridium flare on 17th 21.41.48 at 35 deg. altitude NE.

 

Week of 9th May

 

  • Saturday 14th sees the 32nd anniversary of the launch of the first major space station Skylab.
  • This week the Moon is new and waxing to First Quarter on 16th and so the dark skies will be ideal for viewing the last few Eta Aquarid meteors or the ISS which passes each evening.
  • ISS passes are as follows: 9th at 20.24.51 WSW to E and 22.00.14 W to E. 10th at 20.51.40 W to E and 22.27.02 W to SW. 11th at 21.18.28 W to ESE, 12th at 21.45.14 W to SE, 13th 20.31.36 W to ESE and 14th 21.03.20 W to SE.
  • 2 bright Iridium Flares this week occur on 10th at 22.05.01 at 24 deg. altitude in NNE and on 13th at 21.56.29, 29 deg. altitude in NE.
  • Jupiter will be viewed well this week. Venus is now back as an evening planet low down in the west after sunset and close to the New Moon.

 

Week of 2nd May

 

  • For anyone near to Oxford, there is a Public Lecture (The Halley Lecture) on ‘Massive Black Holes’ given by Prof. Reinhard Genzel of the Max Planck Institute in the Sir Martin Wood theatre of Clarendon Laboratory, Parks Road at 5pm on Tuesday.
  • This is a week of ISS passes as follows: 4th at 21.21 SW to ESE, 5th 21.51 WSW to E, 6th 20.40 SW to E also 22.15 W to ENE, 7th 21.06 WSW to E, 8th 21.33 W to E and 9/5 20.25 WSW to E. The will be one bright evening Iridium flare on 3rd at 21.03.52 altitude 47 deg. NE.
  • The Moon is waning and will be Dark next Sunday.
  • The Sun has a huge mature spot 756 (5 times Earth size) visible by unaided eye (don’t try to look though!)
  • The end of the week will be a good time for Jupiter watching

 

Week of 25th April

 

  • Bright evening Iridium flares may be seen on 25th at 19.58.37, altitude 67 deg. E and 21.33.34, 35 deg altitude NE, 29th at 21.18.45, 41 deg. altitude NE.
  • The Moon is now waning to first Quarter next Sunday
  • The Sun is spotless at present and little activity is expected
  • Jupiter will be getting better as the Moonlight fades and Neptune and Uranus are evening objects again though near the Moon this week.

 

Week of 18th April

 

  • Two bright iridium flares may be visible on 19th at 21.50.55, 25 deg altitude NE and on 22nd at 21.47.17, 29 deg altitude NE
  • The ISS is passing early in the morning this week
  • The Sun remains quiet
  • The Moon will be full on 24th this is the Pink Moon in Moon lore
  • The Lyrids meteor shower peaks on 22nd at 6.30am. The radient is high in the sky and typically 10 per hour may be seen. It is worth looking out from the beginning of the week

 

Week of 11th April

 

  • Two bright evening Iridium flares are potentially visible on 15th at 20.40.43, 51 deg, altitude ENE and on 17th at 21.53.27, 20 deg altitude NE
  • Having been active earlier in the week, the Sun is now quiet
  • The Moon is waxing to first Quarter on Saturday
  • Saturn will be close to the Moon on Friday and Jupiter continues to dominate the night sky with bright orange Arcturus further north in the eastern sky

 

Week of 4th April

 

  • No I.S.S. passes this week and only 2 bright evening Iridium flares on 4th at 21.19.26, 34 deg, altitude ENE and Thursday 21.10.36, 39 deg. ENE.
  • The Sun is not active and is showing very few spots. Solar minimum is due to occur next year 2006.
  • The Moon is waning and will be new next week-end.
  • Jupiter now dominates the night sky rising early evening in the East and is at its closest to Earth during the year. It is 3 times brighter than Sirius and its surface features are easily visible in a small telescope.

 

Week of 28th March

 

  • There is only one bright Iridium flare this week on Friday 1st April at 21.28.14 hrs, 29 deg. altitude ENE.
  • The Moon is waning to last Quarter by Saturday.
  • The Sun remains quiet.
  • Jupiter will be at Opposition on 3rd April. Io transits Jupiter and Europa appears from Occultation mid-evening on Monday 28th.

 

Week of 21st March

 

  • The I.S.S will make its last passes for a while this week, though they will be low in the sky apart from 21/3 7.36pm W to SSW and 23/3 6.55pm W to SSW.
  • There will be 3 bright Iridium flares 23/3 18.20.57 at 59 deg. N, 24/3 21.38.41 at 15 deg. NE 26/3 and 21.36.08 at 18 deg. NE
  • The Moon is waxing to full on Friday (‘Worm’ moon) and being the first full Moon after the Vernal Equinox (20/3) heralds Easter day next Sunday.
  • The Sun is still quiet though there is still prominence activity on the Eastern limb.
  • Jupiter is now a beutiful object in the mid-evening in the East and accessible in the 10 inch. Saturn is now firmly in the Western hemisphere during the evening.

 

Week of 14th March

 

  • Monday is the 126th anniversary of Einstein’s birth. 2005 is officially Einstein year to celebrate 100 years since the publication of his Special Theory of Relativity.
  • The I.S.S will be passing almost overhead each evening this week. (Data from heavensabove) The main passes are as follows. 13/3 7.05pm WSW to E, 14/3 7.33pm W to E, 15/3 8.01pm W to ENE, 16/3 6.53pm W to E, 17/3 7.21pm W to E, 18/3 7.48pm W to SE, 19/3 7.08pm W to ESE, hopefully the weather will allow viewing of one of these !
  • There are 3 bright Iridium flares: 13/3 19.13.11 alt 44 deg N, 14/3 19.39.23 alt 56 deg ESE and 19/3 19.18.14 alt 61 deg SE.
  • Mercury will be easy to see this week just after sunset, bright and low in West (probably orange due to the atmosphere). Saturn is almost overhead mid evening and Jupiter is now obvious and bright from about 8.30pm in East.
  • The Sun remains quiet
  • The Moon is waxing to first Quarter on Thursday.

 

Week of 7th March

 

  • This week in 1934 Yuri Gagarin was born.
  • The I.S.S. will be making passes this week. The following are bright evening events. Friday at 19.45.33 from WSW up to 56 deg altitude to SE (3 minutes) and Saturday 19.06.11 WSW to 62 deg to E (5 minutes). There are two bright Iridium flares on Wednesday 20.00.31 51 deg altitude direction 111 deg ESE and Thursday morning in daylight 08.52.50 at 78 deg direction 126 deg SE.
  • The Sun is still quiet.
  • The Moon is now waning and will be New on Thursday
  • Saturn is now high in the evening sky so well viewed (out of the atmopheric effects and light pollution at lower altitudes) this week with no Moon. Jupiter is now rising in the East around 9.30pm and is nearly an evening object in the 10 inch again.
  • Mercury is easily visible at sunset low in the West, near the crescent Moon on 11th

 

Week of 28th February

 

  • This week in 1966 Venera 3(USSR) was the first probe to reach Venus and in 1972 Pioneer 10 was launched to Jupiter
  • Having seen my first Iridium flare last week, I think they are worth looking out for if the sky is clear. The following are bright flares for this week (all data from heavens-above.com)on 28th at 16.13.38, 83 deg altitude and bearing 184 deg (S) on 2nd at 18.06.12, 64 deg bearing 12 deg (NNE) on 3rd at 18.00.05, 66 deg bearing 14 deg (NNE) and on 4th at 19.59.52, 27 deg bearing 8 deg (N). These are angles as from Marlborough. The flares are caused as various rotating Iridium communications satellites catch the Sun light in their orbits and due to their flat door shaped reflecting surfaces they can shine as bright as the Moon, typical flares last for 1 or 2 seconds.
  • The long filament on the Sun’s surface is now visible as a prominence above the western limb but the Sun remains relatively inactive.
  • The Moon is waning to last Quarter on Thursday.

 

Week of 21st February

 

  • This week in 1962 John Glenn became the first American Astronaut to orbit the Earth.
  • There will be an Iridium Flare visible in daylight from Marlborough at 14.33.11 on Thursday 24th. Look SSW (192 deg.) and at 52 deg. altitude
  • The Sun has only mature spots and is quiet. However an enormous loop of gas is suspended above the Sun’s surface facing us and appears as a dark filament, it is equivalent to the Earth-Moon distance in length.
  • The Moon will be full on Thursday (Snow Moon), its name may well be appropriate this week if the forecasts are correct.
  • Saturn is rather washed out by the Moonlight this week and Jupiter is still a middle of the night target.

 

Week of 14th February

 

  • This week marks two historic birthdays, Copernicus in 1473 and Galileo in 1564. Valentine’s Day in 2001 marked the first pictures being sent back from the surface of an Asteroid (Eros)
  • The Sun is relatively quiet at present and spot 720 has all but disappeared.
  • The Moon in waxing to 1st Quarter on Wednesday and is presently showing clear Earth-shine on the dark hemisphere.
  • Comet Machholz is now barely discernable by eye, but is still ok in Binos. It is now high in the North-Western sky half way between Cassiopeia and the Pole Star, being close to the pole it is harder to follow with the Earth’s rotation.
  • For those with telescopes Saturn is very close (just to the left) to the Eskimo Planetary nebula and look out (by unaided eye) for the pretty Beehive Open Cluster (M44) about 15 degrees below Saturn in Cancer.

 

Week of 7th Febrauary

 

  • This week in 1999 the NASA probe Stardust was launched. It successfully collected samples from within 250km of the nucleus of Comet P/Wild 2 at the end of 2003. The samples will be returned to Earth on January 15th 2006. The hope is that there may be signs of biological molecules.
  • Recently discovered 320m wide Asteroid 2004 MN4 will pass the Earth in 2029 on April 13th at a distance of only 30,000km and will be as bright as a 3rd magnitude star..something to look forward to !
  • Sunspot 720 is looming on the Sun’s eastern limb and may bring a significant rise in Solar activity over the next few days.
  • The Moon will be New on Tuesday.
  • All week will be good for Comet Machholz in Binos, if we get a clear night !.

 

Week of 31st January

 

  • This week two years ago Space Shuttle Columbia broke up on reentry killing all 7 on board. In 1974 the probe Mariner 10 took the first close up images of Venus
  • The Moon is now waning and will be new by the start of next week.
  • The Sun is presently quiet but spot 720 may well return by the middle of the next week
  • Comet Machholz though now at the limit of naked eye visability is still clear in Binos and with the lack of Moon this week and given its high altitude (next to the W of Cassiopeia) it is not badly affected by scattered light

 

Week of 24th January

 

  • This week marks the 19th anniversary of 2 major astronomical events. In 1986 Voyager 2 became the first space probe to pass by Uranus and later that week the Challenger Space Shuttle blew up on take off killing all 7 crew.
  • The Moon will be full on Monday night (Wolf Moon)
  • The vast sunspot 720 has gone round the western limb and the Sun is now quiet, but the spot may still be in existense when the Sun has made another half rotation

 

Week of 17th January

 

  • The Moon is waxing throughout the week and will be full on 25th.
  • Saturn is well placed for viewing at present and showing plenty of detail in the 10 inch.
  • Comet Machholz continues to head higher in the sky towards H and Chi Perseii (Double Open Cluster)and is fading in brightness.
  • The Sun has released 2 Coronal Mass Ejections over the week-end and spot 720 is now bigger than Jupiter. High magnetic activity is expected with chances of Aurorae at the start of the week.

 

Week of 10th January

 

  • On Thursday the NASA Deep Impact mission is launched. This is the first mission to aim to impact a comet’s nucleus (Temple 1) to reveal what it is made of and to release material which will shed light on the early Solar Sustem. On Friday the ESA Huygens probe will descend into the atmosphere of Titan, the largest moon of Saturn and hopefully reveal one of the greatest mysteries of the Solar System, the moon’s composition.
  • Monday 10th is a New Moon which will wax to first quarter by the end of the week. If the forecast is correct there could be some clear dark skies during the week (Tuesday and Wednesday)
  • Comet Machholz is now past the Pleiades and heading up towards Perseus. It will remain a naked-eye object till next week.
  • Saturn will be at opposition on Thursday and thus well placed for observation.
  • The Sun has suddenly grown a very large sunspot (visble to the unaided eye, but don’t look directly at the Sun !) This could give rise to increased Solar activity.

 

Week of 3rd January

 

  • Monday 3rd the Quadrantids meteor shower peaks at 12.20 pm. There should be meteors visible on Monday and Tuesday nights. The radiant is between the Pole star and the tail of the Plough (The constellation Quadrans Muralis is now no longer recognised)
  • Comet Machholz is now brightening to its maximum by the end of the week and will be only 2 degrees from the Pleiades Open cluster on Friday 7th. It is now distinctly green in colour (due to Carbon and CN in its coma) Its straight ion tail is now visible in the telescope and the dust tail, but this is very faint. If the night is clear, the comet and its ion tail are easy now by unaided eye.
  • Saturn will be only 7 degrees from Pollux on 6th.
  • The Sun has now quietened down and its disc is almost blank.

2003 – What’s Up

Week of 27th December

 

  • Monday 27th the Moon is at apogee (furthest from Earth in its orbit) thus the full Moon of Boxing day was the smallest in 2004(though it is bright as the Earth approaches perihelion). The Moon will wane during the week and by next week the comet should be more visible. All 5 ‘ancient’ planets are visible just before sunrise (5.30 till 6.30am)Mercury nearest the horizonvery close to bright Venus with fainter Mars just higher dont mistake the bright red star Antares about the same altitude as Venus. Jupiter is bright high in the South-Eastern sky and Saturn bright with Gemini in the West.

 

Week of 20th December

 

  • Tuesday 21st is the Winter Solstice at 12.42pm.
  • The great Winter sky of Gemini (+ Saturn)Procyon, Sirius, Orion, Hyades and Pleiades is now prominent in the mid evening sky in SE.
  • The Moon will be full next Sunday and its scattered light is obscuring the fainter objects.
  • The Ursids metoer shower peaks on Wednesday at 5.05am, with the Radiant in Ursa Minor (near Polaris)this shower rarely gives many meteors per hour.
  • Comet Machholz is climbing higher in the sky and speeding up as it approaches the Sun. Though now brighter and visible by unaided eye, the Moon will make it hard to see till the New Year, when it will be heading into Taurus and towards the Pleiades.

 

Week of 13th December

 

  • Saturn is now clear of the horizon haze by mid-evening and is a fine sight in a small telescope. If we get a clear night the 10inch will certainly target it.
  • The Moon is now waxing and will be at first Quarter in time for the Tour of the Winter Sky at the end of the week.
  • The Sun is a little more active again but aurorae are only likely at high latitudes (just in case your holidays are taking you North!)
  • The Geminids meteor shower is due to peak on Monday at 8.45pm and given the lack of Moon could be good, except for the poor forecast.
  • There is now a Comet visible to the unaided eye and good in the telescope. This is Comet Machholz and it will be getting brighter over Christmas. It is easy to find at about 4 o’clock from the bottom right foot of Orion (Rigel) (see Solar Weather link for details)

 

Week of 6th December

 

  • The morning sky just before dawn is the time to see planets at the moment. On Tuesday Jupiter and its moons will be right next to the Moon (in fact from eastern USA Jupiter will be eclipsed). On Friday Mars will be just above the Moon and Venus just above Mars. Saturn continues to improve as an evening object.
  • The Moon is waning and will be New again next Sunday.
  • Solar activity has calmed and no storms are currently predicted.
  • Next Saturday there is a chance to see a daylight Iridium flare (associated with one of the Iridium satellites) It will occur just after 8.27am, 49 degrees above the ENE horizon (bearing 73 degrees)
  • Look out for early Geminid meteors as the end of the week approaches.

 

Week of 29th November

 

  • Venus and Jupiter continue to separate in the early morning sky and Saturn to become ever more prominent in the Eastern evening sky. Mars will also be visible next to Venus by the end of the week, but much fainter.
  • The Moon is now waning and will be at Last Quarter by next Sunday.
  • Solar activity is expected to rise again and there is a chance of magnetic storms by mid-week

 

Week of 22nd November

 

  • Venus, Jupiter and Saturn are all visible in the early morning sky, with Jupiter and especially Venus being visible for some time after sunrise. Saturn is now a prominent bright orange light low in the late Eastern evening sky from about 9pm.
  • The Moon is now waxing and will be full on Friday

 

Week of 15th November

 

  • Venus and Jupiter are obvious bright objects in the early morning sky. Saturn has returned to the night sky, rising in the east after sunset directly below Gemini (Castor and Pollux), although not at a high enough altitude for the 10″ until 11pm.
  • The Moon is growing to 1st quarter by the end of the week.
  • Leonids Meteor shower is due to peak on Friday evening but keep watching during the week!
  • Solar activity has declined, but the large Sun spot which caused last weeks Aurorae is likely to return next week.