Observing

Venus dazzles at dusk and closes in on Neptune

13 January 2020 Ade Ashford

Even casual skywatchers cannot fail to notice brightest planet Venus currently hanging like a lantern above the southwest horizon at dusk. But as Venus moves eastwards through Aquarius on successive nights, it draws closer to outermost (and faintest) planet Neptune until the pair reach a particularly close conjunction on the UK evening of Monday, 27 January.

Observing

Watch the Moon hide naked-eye star Tejat in Gemini on 9 January

5 January 2020 Ade Ashford

Magnitude +2.9 star Mu (μ) Geminorum, better nown as Tejat in the constellation of Gemini, is occulted (hidden) by the rising 13-day-old waxing gibbous Moon early on the evening of Thursday, 9 January 2020 as seen from the entire British Isles. This is a spectacle for small telescopes and large binoculars, the first bright lunar occultation of a busy year for such events.

Observing

Moonlight challenges Leonid meteor shower maximum on 18 November

15 November 2019 Ade Ashford

The maximum of the annual Leonid meteor shower is predicted for 11pm GMT (23h UT) on Monday, 18 November 2019. However, the famously swift, bright Leonids — some leaving persistent trails — will have to contend with the glare of a 21-day-old waning gibbous Moon close by visible from 9:30pm GMT to dawn on the 19th.

Observing

Watch the Moon hide naked-eye star Zeta (ζ) Tauri on 19 October

11 October 2019 Ade Ashford

When a nearby astronomical body passes between the observer and a more distant object, see say that an occultation is taking place. Since the Moon is our nearest celestial neighbour, it regularly passes in front of planets and stars. Observers in the British Isles can see naked-eye star Zeta (ζ) Tauri glide behind the Moon on Saturday, 19 October 2019.

Observing

See the waxing Moon meet the outermost planet on 10 October

6 October 2019 Ade Ashford

The 12-day-old Moon lies in the same low-power binocular field as Neptune late into the evening of Thursday, 10 October 2019 when observers in the UK can find the pair highest in the southern sky against the constellation of Aquarius. The glare of the gibbous Moon will present a challenge, but well worth the attempt to find the outermost planet with modest optical aid.

News

NASA lunar orbiter to image Chandrayaan 2 landing site

13 September 2019 Stephen Clark

NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter will try to locate India’s Vikram lander on the moon during a flyover of the landing site Tuesday. Indian space officials said they found the disabled spacecraft on the moon using the country’s own Chandrayaan 2 orbiter, but declined to release any images.

Observing

Watch the crescent Moon graze a double star at dawn on 27 August

26 August 2019 Ade Ashford

Depending on where you live in the British Isles, you may be fortunate to view a lunar occultation of naked-eye double star delta (δ) Geminorum at dawn on Tuesday, 27 August 2019. Observers fortunate enough to lie on the so-called graze line will see the star appear to flicker on and off as the mountains and valleys of the northern lunar polar regions drift by.

Observing

See the Moon hide a trio of Hyades stars at dawn on 24 August

20 August 2019 Ade Ashford

Have you ever seen the Moon hide a star? If you’re an early riser in the UK with a small telescope on Saturday, 24 August 2019 then you can potentially witness the disappearance and reappearance of three naked-eye stars in the Hyades open star cluster of Taurus between 3:40am BST and shortly after sunrise.