Observing

Seeing double in the autumn sky

6 October 2018 Ade Ashford

Now that the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness is upon us and the bright summer stars and planets are slipping away to the west, why not seek out some of the spectacular double stars of the autumn sky? We show you how to find some celestial gems suitable for small to medium telescopes in the constellations of Aquarius, Aries and Andromeda.

Observing

Star-hop your way to viewing planets Uranus and Neptune at their best

23 September 2018 Ade Ashford

Clear nights of early Northern Hemisphere autumn offer ideal opportunities to track down the two outermost planets of the solar system, Uranus and Neptune. What’s more, you don’t need a big telescope to find them. We show you how to locate these gas giants using binoculars. The Moon also passes close to Neptune on 20 October.

Observing

See the Moon and Saturn get close at dusk on 17 September

16 September 2018 Ade Ashford

Skywatchers in the UK looking to the south-southwest at dusk on Monday, 17 September can see the waxing gibbous Moon just 1¾ degrees to the upper left of Saturn, the pair fitting comfortably in the same field of view of binoculars and small telescopes magnifying 25× or less. This is also a good night for spotting Titan, Saturn’s largest and brightest moon.

Observing

Watch asteroid 2015 FP118 fly by Earth in early September

31 August 2018 Ade Ashford

Shortly after 11am BST on Monday, 3 September, an 800-metre-wide space rock with the catchy name 2015 FP118 hurtles past Earth some 12¼ times the average distance of the Moon. On subsequent nights we show you how to track it down with backyard telescopes of 10-inch (25-cm) aperture and larger.

Observing

See bright Comet 21P’s close brush with conspicuous Capella

27 August 2018 Ade Ashford

If you’ve never seen a comet, there’s currently a bright example visible in the late evening about to make a close approach to the 6th brightest star in the night sky on the UK night of 2–3 September. We show you how to find Comet 21P/Giacobini-Zinner around the time it passes within a degree of prominent star Capella.

Observing

See the Moon meet the Red Planet on the UK night of 23 August

23 August 2018 Ade Ashford

Mars may be almost four weeks past opposition, but it’s still an imposing sight low in the southern sky around local midnight. But if you are in any doubt about identifying the Red Planet, the waxing gibbous Moon acts as a convenient celestial guide late into the UK night of Thursday, 23 August. See both the Moon and the Red Planet in the same field of view of low-power binoculars.

Observing

See innermost planet Mercury’s favourable dawn show

22 August 2018 Ade Ashford

Mercury attains its maximum westerly elongation from the Sun on 26 August, meaning that the innermost planet is currently well placed for observation from the UK and Western Europe in the eastern sky around 40 minutes before sunrise. In addition to those in the evening sky, you might just see all five bright naked-eye planets this month!

Observing

Don’t miss 2018’s favourable Perseid meteor shower, 12–13 August

3 August 2018 Ade Ashford

From the UK evening of Sunday, 12 August into the early hours of the following morning it’s the maximum of the annual Perseid meteor shower. This year, a new Moon setting in twilight makes prospects for watching this natural firework display particularly good. So, find somewhere away from the streetlights, settle into a garden lounger facing northeast and enjoy the show!