Observing

Best ever Geminid meteor shower around 14 December?

11 December 2017 Ade Ashford

Could we be in for a bumper crop of Geminid meteors just before the middle of December? There’s a good chance that we will given that their parent body, the mysterious crumbly “rock comet” 3200 Phaethon, is also making a close flyby of Earth this month.

Observing

See brightest asteroid Vesta at its best

17 January 2017 Ade Ashford

On Wednesday 18¬†January, brightest asteroid 4 Vesta comes to opposition in the constellation of Cancer bordering on Gemini, ideally placed for observation by Northern Hemisphere skywatchers. While the truly eagle-eyed among you might glimpse it with the unaided eye on dark, moonless nights, Vesta is an easy binocular object.

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Hubble reveals a cosmic trick of the eye

6 April 2016 Astronomy Now

While truly massive stars go out in a blaze of glory, intermediate-mass stars — those between roughly one and eight times the mass of the Sun — are somewhat quieter. Such stars eventually form cosmic objects known as planetary nebulae, so named because of their vague resemblance to planets when seen through early, low-resolution telescopes.

Observing

See the Orionid meteor shower peak 21-23 October

20 October 2015 Astronomy Now

The highlight of October for meteor observers is the Orionid meteor shower, which occurs when the Earth encounters the debris stream of Halley’s Comet. With a broad maximum 21-23 October, peak rates are typically about a quarter of those seen for the Perseids of August. A good percentage of Orionids are bright and leave persistent trains.

Observing

See planet Venus dazzle at greatest brilliancy in the pre-dawn sky

17 September 2015 Ade Ashford

Early risers wishing to see Venus as a dazzling ‘morning star’ need only glance low to the east in the pre-dawn sky. The planet reaches greatest brilliancy on Sunday, 20 September when, for a couple of mornings, it can be seen outshining brightest nighttime star Sirius in the southeast by a factor of seventeen times. Can you see your shadow cast by Venus?

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“IC 443” by Patrick Gilliland

10 September 2015 Astronomy Now

Nomination number 13 from the prestigious Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition, an annual celebration of the most beautiful and spectacular visions of the cosmos by astrophotographers worldwide. The 2015 competition received 2700 spectacular entries from over 60 countries and the winners will be announced 17 September.

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The dreadful beauty of the Medusa Nebula

21 May 2015 Astronomy Now

Astronomers using ESO’s Very Large Telescope in Chile have captured the most detailed image ever taken of the Medusa Nebula in the constellation of Gemini. As the star at the heart of this nebula made its transition into retirement, it shed its outer layers into space, forming this colourful cloud.

Observing

Venus’ late night show in May

11 May 2015 Ade Ashford

Even casual observers cannot fail to notice dazzling Venus currently gracing the western horizon at dusk. Owing to a favourable set of circumstances, the brightest planet is visible long after sunset. How late can you see it set in the British Isles? For those north of the Arctic Circle, Venus is presently circumpolar and doesn’t set at all!

Observing

The Moon’s two-night encounter with Jupiter

29 March 2015 Ade Ashford

The waxing gibbous Moon passes close by the Solar System’s largest planet, Jupiter, on the nights of March 29th and 30th. Jupiter was at opposition last month, but it’s still big, bright and offers much to see in a telescope.

Observing

Geminid meteor shower reaches its peak

11 December 2014 Mark Armstrong

With the Moon past Last Quarter and rising after midnight, prospects are good for observing the closing stages of the Geminid meteor shower — now the richest shooting stars display of the year.