Observing

Get ready for October’s pre-dawn Moon and planet show

Now that planet Saturn is effectively lost in the dusk twilight for UK-based observers, you may be wondering what has happened to the other four bright naked-eye planets. Far from disappearing, they have just transferred to the morning sky. From 8—11 October, the waning crescent Moon acts as a guide to Venus, Mars, Jupiter then Mercury in the eastern dawn sky.

Observing

See the Moon & Venus get close in the pre-dawn sky

As dawn creeps across Western Europe on the morning of Thursday, 10 September, a close conjunction of the two brightest objects in the nighttime sky is taking place low in the east an hour before sunrise. So, set your alarm for 5:30am in the UK to see a beautiful juxtaposition of a 26-day-old waning crescent Moon and dazzling planet Venus in the twilight.

Picture This

Messier 96: a galactic maelstrom

This new Hubble image shows Messier 96 (M96 or NGC 3368), a spiral galaxy in the constellation Leo that lies about 35 million light-years away. About the same mass and size as the Milky Way, M96 resembles a giant maelstrom of glowing gas, rippled with dark dust along asymmetric arms that swirl inwards towards the nucleus.