News

Astronomical software accurately dates 2,500-year-old lyric poem

15 May 2016 Astronomy Now

Physicists and astronomers from the University of Texas at Arlington have used advanced software to accurately date lyric poet Sappho’s “Midnight Poem,” which describes the Pleiades star cluster in the constellation of Taurus having set at around midnight, when supposedly observed by her from the Greek island of Lesbos more than 2,500 years ago.

Observing

Catch a glimpse of planet Mercury at its best in the evening twilight

13 April 2016 Ade Ashford

Have you ever seen Mercury with the naked eye? If not, now is the time to check the elusive innermost planet off your list. Mercury reaches greatest easterly elongation from the Sun on Monday, 18 April, the highlight of a very favourable dusk apparition in the west-northwest for observers in Western Europe and the British Isles.

Observing

See the Moon invade the Hyades star cluster on 10 April

8 April 2016 Ade Ashford

If you have a clear western horizon from shortly before 9pm BST until midnight on Sunday, 10 April, don’t miss an opportunity to see a young crescent Moon glide slowly through the southern edge of the Hyades star cluster in Taurus, covering (or occulting) stars as it goes. All you need is a typical binocular or a small telescope to enjoy the show!

Observing

See the Moon glide through the Hyades and occult bright star Aldebaran

17 January 2016 Ade Ashford

On the night of 19—20 January, the 10-day-old waxing gibbous Moon glides in front of the loose open star cluster known as the Hyades that represent the bull’s head in the constellation of Taurus, culminating in the occultation of bright star Aldebaran an hour or so before moonset for observers in the British Isles.

Observing

See the Moon score a Bull’s-Eye, covering Aldebaran in Taurus on 23 December

19 December 2015 Ade Ashford

Early on the evening of Wednesday, 23 December, observers in the British Isles can see the 13-day-old waxing gibbous Moon pass in front of first-magnitude Aldebaran — the ‘Eye of the Bull’ in Taurus — the brightest star to be occulted for UK observers in 2015. Here’s our observing guide to this readily observable event in large binoculars and small telescopes.

Observing

See asteroid 2015 TB145 in close fly-by of Earth 30-31 October

30 October 2015 Ade Ashford

Four hundred-metre-wide asteroid 2015 TB145 passes just 302,500 miles (486,800 kilometres) or 1.3 lunar distances away from Earth on the evening of Saturday, 31 October 2015. Here is our guide to locating this Apollo-class near-Earth asteroid on the night of 30-31 October from the UK.

Observing

See the Moon score a Bull’s-Eye in Taurus on 29 October

29 October 2015 Ade Ashford

On Thursday, 29 October, observers in the British Isles with clear skies and armed with binoculars or small telescopes can see the waning gibbous 17-day-old Moon occult first-magnitude star Aldebaran, the ‘Eye of the Bull’ in the constellation Taurus. The star slips behind the Moon soon after 9:45pm GMT and reappears at the darkened lunar hemisphere about an hour later.

Observing

See the Moon hit a bull’s-eye in Taurus, pre-dawn 5 September

4 September 2015 Ade Ashford

In the dawn twilight of Saturday, 5 September, observers in the British Isles with clear skies can see the last quarter Moon pass in front of first-magnitude star Aldebaran in the constellation Taurus — the brightest star (aside from the Sun) to be occulted by the Moon as seen from the UK this year.

Observing

Venus meets the Pleiades in the evening sky

6 April 2015 Ade Ashford

Currently unmistakable as a brilliant ‘evening star’ over to west at dusk, planet Venus treks through the constellation of Taurus starting April 7th, leading to a close encounter with the Pleiades star cluster on the 11th.