The innermost planet’s best evening showing of the year for northern observers occurs during the fortnight starting 20 February. Skywatchers will get optimal views by sourcing a location that offers an unobstructed view of the horizon from west-southwest through west at the end of civil twilight, which is about 40 minutes after sunset for the heart of the British Isles.
It’s holiday time again and the keen observer is faced with the usual dilemma: how does one carry a telescope small enough to be useful to far-flung dark and exotic skies? Fortunately for globe-trotters concerned about optical size and weight, Telescope Service in Germany has the TSAPO60 — a compact and very versatile photo-visual 60mm f/5.5 ED refractor.
The Whirlpool Galaxy, also known as M51, is familiar to legions of amateur astronomers as a relatively faint face-on spiral with a smaller companion galaxy, but the Hubble Space Telescope reveals the Whirlpool in all its splendour, a magnificent spiral studded with countless clusters and dust lanes.