New interactive website tools for observers

By Ade Ashford

interactive_tools_620x400Keen-eyed users of Astronomy Now Online had a sneak preview of the Almanac from our Jupiter’s moon dance story, but we thought that the majority of users would find this observing planning tool useful, so we’ve added it as a pop-down menu accessed by clicking OBSERVING at the top of every webpage.

The Almanac opens with a table depicting current sky data and Solar System phenomena (including International Space Station visibility predictions and Jupiter’s Galilean moons) for the centre of the British Isles, but you can select an alternative global location from an alphabetised gazetteer, or a different date and time. Preset buttons let you step forward or backward in time by increments of one minute, hour, or day, automatically updating the information.

If you prefer your information packaged graphically and you’re a resident of the UK, we invite you to inspect our UK Sky Chart which, like the Almanac, you can find as a pop-down menu by clicking OBSERVING at the top of every webpage. See at a glance an all-sky map of the sky for any month and hour of the night (or day) and the positions of the planets from 2014 through 2016, including when the sky is in twilight or the Sun is above the horizon.

We’re striving to make continual improvements to these tools and provide new ones to help you get the most out of your precious observing time, so we’ll keep you informed of developments. Clear skies!