Observing

How to find Ceres, the nearest and brightest dwarf planet at its best

23 October 2016 Ade Ashford

Ceres, the largest minor planet inside the orbit of Neptune, passed closest to Earth on the evening of 22 October — the night of the last quarter Moon. With the lunar crescent now confined to the morning sky, grab your binoculars or telescope, print out some star charts from our online guide and track down the brightest of the dwarf planets while at its best.

Observing

See planet Uranus at its best in the autumn sky

8 October 2016 Ade Ashford

Have you ever seen Uranus with the naked eye? If not, moonless nights in October offer ideal conditions to test your visual acuity and sky clarity. Uranus reaches opposition on 15 October and attains a respectable altitude in the southern sky as seen from the British Isles. Here is our guide to tracking down the seventh planet from the Sun.

Observing

See Mercury at its best in the east at dawn

25 September 2016 Ade Ashford

Mercury is currently putting on a fine show in the east before dawn. Find a UK location with an unobstructed view due east an hour before sunrise to see the innermost planet some 6 degrees above the horizon from about 25 September—5 October. The very old crescent Moon lies just 2 degrees from Mercury at dawn on Thursday, 29 September.

Observing

See the Moon hide planet Neptune on 15 September

14 September 2016 Ade Ashford

Observers up for an extreme observing challenge may care to make an attempt at viewing the almost full Moon pass in front of planet Neptune soon after 8pm BST on Thursday, 15 September. The planet’s disappearance occurs at a low altitude in twilight for the British Isles, but can also be seen from a large swathe of Europe and western Russia.

Observing

See the Moon meet Saturn and Mars in the evening sky

8 September 2016 Ade Ashford

A hundred days have passed since Mars was closest to Earth this year, but the Red Planet can still be seen in the early evening sky close to the jewel of the solar system, Saturn. If you wish to identify this pair of planets, then a convenient celestial marker in the form of the waxing crescent Moon passes by on the evenings of 8—9 September in the UK and Western Europe.

Observing

Find the Andromeda Galaxy in the late summer sky

2 September 2016 Ade Ashford

One of best deep-sky objects of the approaching season is the Andromeda Galaxy, or Messier 31, that is now accessible low in the east-northeast by 10pm local time in the UK and Western Europe. Here’s our comprehensive guide to locating this iconic Local Group galaxy.

News

Annular eclipse: ring of fire over Africa

1 September 2016 Ade Ashford

The annular solar eclipse of Thursday, 1 September 2016 occurs when the Sun is in Leo. Greatest eclipse occurs at 09:06:54 UT, which is just under five-and-a-half days before lunar apogee, which is the Moon’s furthest point from us in its orbit.

Observing

Jupiter and Venus get extra close in the evening sky

27 August 2016 Ade Ashford

On Saturday 27 August at 22:32 UT (11:32pm BST), a spectacularly close conjunction occurs between Jupiter and Venus just 22 degrees west of the Sun in the constellation of Virgo, when the planetary pair are just 4 arcminutes, or one-fifteenth of a degree, apart. Here is our guide to the best locations and times to view this rare event.

Observing

See the triple lineup of Antares, Mars and Saturn tonight

24 August 2016 Ade Ashford

Observers in the British Isles with a clear sky one hour after sunset on 24 August should find a location that offers an unobstructed view of the south-southwest horizon. Here you will see first-magnitude star Antares in the constellation Scorpius, Mars and Saturn all in a line easily encompassed by low-power binoculars in the bright twilight.

Observing

See asteroid 2 Pallas at its best during August 2016

15 August 2016 Ade Ashford

During the Perseid meteor shower, second-largest asteroid 2 Pallas passed close to the southeast of globular cluster Messier 15 in the constellation of Pegasus. The minor planet still lies in the vicinity of this beautiful deep-sky object, reaching opposition on 20 August — here’s our in-depth guide to Pallas at its best.

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