Observing

Mercury’s prominent evening show under southern skies

13 July 2017 Ade Ashford

Mercury is generally something of a challenge to observe, but the run-up to a particularly favourable easterly elongation occurring on 30 July provides ample opportunities for locating the innermost planet in the evening sky — particularly from the Southern Hemisphere, where a prominent celestial marker in the form of a 2-day-old Moon passes close by on 25  July.

Observing

Get ready to view planet Jupiter at its best

4 April 2017 Ade Ashford

Jupiter, the Solar System’s largest planet, reaches opposition on the evening of 7 April and lies closest to Earth for 2017 the following night. Don’t miss the 14-day-old Moon passing close by on the night of 10 April too. Here’s our comprehensive guide to what to see on Jupiter and phenomena of its bright moons for the month ahead.

News

Simpler planet test classifies 99 percent of all known exoplanets

11 November 2015 Astronomy Now

Nine years ago, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) defined what it takes to be a planet, but left the classification of exoplanets for future consideration. With exoplanet discoveries now numbering close to 5,000, UCLA professor of planetary astronomy Jean-Luc Margot describes a simple “planet test” that can be readily applied to bodies orbiting the Sun and other stars.

Observing

See ringed planet Saturn at its best

18 May 2015 Ade Ashford

Often referred to as the Jewel of the Solar System, Saturn reaches opposition on May 23rd and is currently best placed for observation during 2015. Despite the planet’s southerly declination, its glorious ring system is favourably tipped in our direction with the northern hemisphere on show.