What’s Up – November 2016

Events of interest for November ….

NOVEMBER – Aurora season has started – from now till around the end of March is the best time for viewing the northern lights here from the UK. Please visit our sister site AUK – Aurora UK for “real time” notifications.

1st November – NEW MOON – The Moon will located on the same side of the Earth as the Sun and will not be visible in the night sky. This phase occurs at 00:11 UTC. This is the best time of the month to observe faint objects such as galaxies and star clusters because there is no moonlight to interfere. This is the first of two new moons this month.

2nd November – MOON – Waxing Crescent moon (7% lit)

3rd November – MOON – Waxing Crescent moon (13% lit) is 4° north of Venus low in the west southwest around 19:00.

4th November – MOON – Waxing Crescent moon (21% lit) should not cause too many problems with the Taurids.

4th November – METEORS –  The Taurid meteor shower will reach its maximum rate of activity on 12 November 2016.The maximum rate of meteors expected to be visible from a dark location is around 10 per hour (ZHR). The Moon will be 13 days old at the time of peak activity, and being so close to Full Moon, will severely limit the observations that will be possible. The radiant of the Taurid meteor shower is at around right ascension 04h00m, declination +22°, as shown by the green cross on the planetarium above. At midnight, it appears 56° above your southern horizon from Scarborough. All of the meteors will appear to be travelling directly outward from this point, as indicated by the white lines drawn above. To see the most meteors, the best place to look is not directly at the radiant itself, but at any dark patch of sky which is around 30–40° away from it. It is at a distance of around this distance from the radiant that meteors will show reasonably long trails without being too spread out. The Taurids is a long-running minor meteor shower producing only about 5-10 meteors per hour. It is unusual in that it consists of two separate streams. The first is produced by dust grains left behind by Asteroid 2004 TG10. The second stream is produced by debris left behind by Comet 2P Encke. The shower runs annually from September 7 to December 10.

6th November – MOON – Waxing Crescent moon (38% lit)

12th November – MOON/URANUS – The Moon and Uranus will make a close approach, passing within 2°41′ of each other. From Scarborough, the pair will be visible in the evening sky, becoming visible at around 16:29 (GMT) as the dusk sky fades, 11° above your eastern horizon. They will then reach its highest point in the sky at 21:51, 43° above your southern horizon. They will continue to be observable until around 03:42, when they sink to 8° above your western horizon. At the moment of closest approach, the Moon will be at mag -12.7, and Uranus at mag 5.7, both in the constellation Pisces. The pair will be too widely separated to fit within the field of view of a telescope, but will be visible through a pair of binoculars.

14th November – MOON – FULL MOON –  The Moon will reach full phase. At this time in its monthly cycle of phases, the Moon lies almost directly opposite the Sun in the sky, placing it high above the horizon for much of the night. This month’s full moon will take place unusually close to the time of month when the Moon also makes its closest approach to the Earth – called its perigee. This near coincidence between a full moon and lunar perigee will mean that this full moon will appear slightly larger and brighter than usual in the night sky. Full moons such as this occur roughly once every 13 months. The sequence of full moons through the year are often assigned names according to the seasons in which they fall. This month’s will be the second to fall in autumn 2016 – the Hunter’s Moon. Over the nights following 14 November, the Moon will rise around an hour later each day, becoming prominent later in the night. Within a few days, it will only be visible in the pre-dawn and early-morning sky. By the time it reaches last quarter, a week after full moon, it will rise at around midnight and set at around noon. At the exact moment when the Moon reaches full phase, it will lie at a declination of +13°43′ in the constellation Taurus , and so will appear highest in the northern hemisphere. It will be visible from all latitudes south of 66°S. Its distance from the Earth will be 356,000 km.

16th November – METEORS –  The Leonid meteor shower will reach its maximum rate of activity on 18 November 2016. Some shooting stars associated with the shower are expected to be visible each night from 15 Nov to 20 Nov. The maximum rate of meteors expected to be visible from a dark location is around 20 per hour (ZHR). The Moon will be 19 days old at the time of peak activity, and so will present significant interference in the pre-dawn sky. The radiant of the Leonid meteor shower is at around right ascension 10h10m, declination +22°, as shown by the green cross on the planetarium above. At midnight, it appears 13° above your eastern horizon from Scarborough. All of the meteors will appear to be travelling directly outward from this point, as indicated by the white lines drawn above. The Leonids is an average shower, producing up to 15 meteors per hour at its peak. This shower is unique in that it has a cyclonic peak about every 33 years where hundreds of meteors per hour can be seen. That last of these occurred in 2001. The Leonids is produced by dust grains left behind by comet Tempel-Tuttle, which was discovered in 1865. The shower runs annually from November 6-30. It peaks this year on the night of the 16th and morning of the 17th. The waning gibbous moon will block many of the fainter meteors this year, but if you are patient you should be able to catch quite a few good ones. Best viewing will be from a dark location after midnight. Meteors will radiate from the constellation Leo, but can appear anywhere in the sky.

17th November – OPEN CLUSTER – The Pleiades open star cluster (M45) in Taurus will be well placed for observation. It will reach its highest point in the sky at around midnight local time. At a declination of +24°06′, it is easiest to see from the northern hemisphere and cannot be seen from latitudes much south of 45°S. From Scarborough, it will be visible in the morning sky, becoming accessible at around 17:14, when it rises 12° above your north-eastern horizon. It will then reach its highest point in the sky at 23:59, 59° above your southern horizon. It will be lost to dawn twilight at around 06:32, 15° above your western horizon. At magnitude 1.6, M45 is visible to the naked eye, but best viewed through a pair of binoculars.

21st November – MOON – Moon is at last quarter –  The Moon will reach the midpoint between full moon and new moon, when it is half illuminated. At this time of the month, it rises around midnight, and is visible in the early morning sky. From Scarborough, the Moon will be visible in the morning sky, becoming accessible at around 23:53, when it rises 7° above your eastern horizon. It will then reach its highest point in the sky at 06:03, 46° above your southern horizon. It will be lost to dawn twilight at around 07:15, 44° above your south-western horizon.

25th November – MOON – Waxing Crescent moon (15% lit)

25th November – MOON/JUPITER – The Moon and Jupiter will make a close approach, passing within 1°50′ of each other. From Scarborough, the pair will be visible in the dawn sky, rising at 03:06 (GMT) – 4 hours and 42 minutes before the Sun – and reaching an altitude of 28° above the south-eastern horizon before fading from view as dawn breaks at around 07:20. At the moment of closest approach, the Moon will be at mag -10.6, and Jupiter at mag -1.8, both in the constellation Virgo. The pair will be too widely separated to fit within the field of view of a telescope, but will be visible to the naked eye or through a pair of binoculars.

26th November – DSOs – With just 3 days till New Moon, now is an ideal time to be observing all those Deep Sky Objects  (DSOs)

29th November – MOON – NEW MOON –  The Moon will pass close to the Sun and become lost in the Sun’s glare for a few days. The Moon’s orbital motion carries it around the Earth once every four weeks, and as a result its phases cycle from new moon, through first quarter, full moon and last quarter, back to new moon once every 29.5 days. This motion also means that the Moon travels more than 12° across the sky from one night to the next, causing it to rise and set nearly an hour later each day. At new moon, the Earth, Moon and Sun all lie in a roughly straight line, with the Moon in the middle, appearing in front of the Sun’s glare. In this configuration, we see almost exactly the opposite half of the Moon to that which is illuminated by the Sun, making it doubly unobservable because the side we see is almost entirely unilluminated. Over coming days, the Moon will become visible in the late afternoon and dusk sky as a waxing crescent, setting an hour later each evening. By first quarter, in a week’s time, it will be visible until around midnight.

30th November – MOON – Waxing Crescent moon (1% lit) low in the southwest just after sunset.

30th November – DWARF PLANET – The Dwarf Planet Vesta appears at its closest to the Beehive Cluster M44 for the month.

Dates highlighted in BOLD are good photographic opportunities

AIUK – Astronomy Imaging UK – https://www.facebook.com/groups/453388178104679/

sister group to ……

AUK – Aurora UK – https://www.facebook.com/groups/AuroraUK/

Note: Times are UK (BST) unless noted differently.

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What’s Up – October 2016

Events of interest for October ….

OCTOBER – Aurora season has started – from now till around the end of March is the best time for viewing the northern lights here from the UK. Please visit our sister site AUK – Aurora UK for “real time” notifications.

1st October – NEW MOON – The Moon will located on the same side of the Earth as the Sun and will not be visible in the night sky. This phase occurs at 00:11. This is the best time of the month to observe faint objects such as galaxies and star clusters because there is no moonlight to interfere. This is the first of two new moons this month.

3rd October – MOON – Waxing Crescent moon (6% lit) is 4° north of Venus low in the west southwest around 19:00.

6th October – STAR CLUSTER – Around 22:00 the Pleiades open cluster will be approx 20° above the eastern horizon.

7th October – METEORS – Draconids Meteor Shower. The Draconids is a minor meteor shower producing only about 10 meteors per hour. It is produced by dust grains left behind by comet 21P Giacobini-Zinner, which was first discovered in 1900. The Draconids is an unusual shower in that the best viewing is in the early evening instead of early morning like most other showers. The shower runs annually from October 6-10 and peaks this year on the the night of the 7th. The first quarter moon will block the fainter meteors in the early evening. It will set shortly after midnight leaving darker skies for observing any lingering stragglers. Best viewing will be in the early evening from a dark location far away from city lights. Meteors will radiate from the constellation Draco, but can appear anywhere in the sky.

9th October – MOON – 1st quarter moon

11th October – MERCURY/JUPITER – Mercury and Jupiter are close together in the morning sky around 06:45 low in the east

14th October – GALAXY – The Triangulum galaxy (M33) will be well placed for observation. It will reach its highest point in the sky at around midnight local time. At a declination of +30°39′, it is easiest to see from the northern hemisphere and cannot be seen from latitudes much south of 39°S. From Scarborough, it will be visible all night. It will become visible at around 19:30 (BST) as the dusk sky fades, 28° above your eastern horizon. It will be lost to dawn twilight at around 06:06, 32° above your western horizon. At magnitude 5.7, M33 is too faint to be seen with the naked eye from any but the very darkest sites, but is visible through a pair of binoculars or small telescope.

15th October – URANUS – Uranus at Opposition. The blue-green planet will be at its closest approach to Earth and its face will be fully illuminated by the Sun. It will be brighter than any other time of the year and will be visible all night long. This is the best time to view Uranus. Due to its distance, the planet will only appear as a tiny blue-green dot in all but the most powerful telescopes. It will be in the constellation of Pisces.

16th October – FULL MOON – The Moon will be located on the opposite side of the Earth as the Sun and its face will be will be fully illuminated. This phase occurs at 04:23 UTC. This full moon was known by early Native American tribes as the Full Hunters Moon because at this time of year the leaves are falling and the game is fat and ready to hunt. This moon has also been known as the Travel Moon and the Blood Moon. This is also the first of three supermoons for 2016. The Moon will be at its closest approach to the Earth and may look slightly larger and brighter than usual.

16th October – METEORS – Orionids Meteor Shower. The Orionids is an average shower producing up to 20 meteors per hour at its peak. It is produced by dust grains left behind by comet Halley, which has been known and observed since ancient times. The shower runs annually from October 2 to November 7. It peaks this year on the night of October 21 and the morning of October 22. The second quarter moon will block some of the fainter meteors this year, but the Orionids tend to be fairly bright so it could still be a good show. Best viewing will be from a dark location after midnight. Meteors will radiate from the constellation Orion, but can appear anywhere in the sky.

16th October – MOON/URANUS – The Moon and Uranus will make a close approach, passing within 2°42′ of each other. From Scarborough, the pair will be visible between 18:51 and 06:35. They will become accessible at around 18:51, when they rise 7° above your eastern horizon, and then reach its highest point in the sky at 00:45, 43° above your southern horizon. They will become inaccessible at around 06:35 when they sink to 8° above your western horizon. At the moment of closest approach, the Moon will be at mag -12.8, and Uranus at mag 5.7, both in the constellation Pisces. The pair will be too widely separated to fit within the field of view of a telescope, but will be visible to the naked eye or through a pair of binoculars.

19th October – OCCULTATION – The Waning Gibbous Moon (80% lit) will occult a number of stars in the Hyades cluster in Taurus. Look for the interaction with Aldebaran at around 08:40.

20-21 October – METEORS – Orionids Meteor Shower peak – unfortunately, the Waning Gibbous Moon (67% lit) will hamper viewing conditions.

22nd October – MOON – last quarter moon

23rd October – STAR CLUSTER – The moon lies 5.5° to the southwest of the Beehive Cluster (M44) in Cancer. Best time to view will be around 05:00.

26th October – ORION – The Constellation of Orion reaches its highest point in the sky just after 04:00.

28th October – MOON – The Waning Crescent Moon (4% lit) is 40 arcminutes from Jupiter at 11:00 during daylight hours. The moon is 32° up in the south-southeast, Jupiter is seen below the moon.

29th October – STAR CLUSTERS – Look at the region west of Cassiopeia to see the outline of Perseus and you will see two star clusters close together. The Double Cluster or Sword Handle (NGC869) and (NGC884)

30th October – NEW MOON – The Moon will located on the same side of the Earth as the Sun and will not be visible in the night sky. This phase occurs at 17:38 UTC. This is the best time of the month to observe faint objects such as galaxies and star clusters because there is no moonlight to interfere.

31st October – MOON – A fantastic photo opportunity to capture a very slender lunar crescent (1% lit) immediately after sunset.

 

Dates highlighted in BOLD are good photographic opportunities

AIUK – Astronomy Imaging UK – https://www.facebook.com/groups/453…

sister group to ……

AUK – Aurora UK – https://www.facebook.com/groups/Aur…

Note: Times are UK (BST) unless noted differently.

Credit: Sky at Night magazine, own input and various online resources

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What’s Up – September 2016

Events of interest for September ….

SEPTEMBER – Aurora season begins again – from now till around the end of March is the best time for viewing the northern lights here from the UK. Please visit our sister site AUK – Aurora UK for “real time” notifications.

1st September – MOON – New moon – Great time for observing the milky way and deep sky objects with the moon out of the way.

2nd September – MOON – Waxing Crescent moon (1% lit) is 1° west of Jupiter this evening. Look for the pair low above the western horizon 25 minutes after sunset. Also, look out for Venus which is 6° east of Jupiter. If clouds permit, this is one photographic opportunity NOT to miss.

3rd September – NEPTUNE – Neptune is at opposition meaning this blue giant will be at its closest approach to Earth and its face will be fully illuminated by the sun. It will be brighter than any other time of the year and will be visible all night long. This is the best time to photograph Neptune. Due to the extreme distance from Earth, it will only appear as a tiny blue dot in all but the most powerful telescopes.

3rd September – MOON/VENUS – Venus will appear to be 15 arcminutes from the southern limb of the waxing crescent moon (4% lit) at around 10:58. Although daylight, it should still be possible to see the pair about 20° up in the east-southeast. Just after sunset they will appear to be separated by about 3.5°

8th September – MOON/SATURN – Saturn will be approximately 3.8° south of the waxing crescent moon (43% lit). They will be low in the southwest at approx 21:45

9th September – MOON/MARS – Mars appears 7° below the 1st quarter moon low in the south-southwest

15th September – MOON/NEPTUNE – Neptune re-appears from behind the moon’s disc at 21:00. The planet was covered by the moon during twilight about an hour earlier at 20:04

16th September – MOON – Penumbral Eclipse –  Like other lunar eclipses, penumbral eclipses occur whenever the Earth passes between the Moon and Sun, such that it obscures the Sun’s light and casts a shadow onto the Moon’s surface. But unlike other kinds of eclipses, they are extremely subtle events to observe. In a penumbral eclipse the Moon passes through an outer region of the Earth’s shadow called the penumbra. In this outer part of the Earth’s shadow, an observer on the Moon would see the Sun partially obscuring the Sun’s disk, but not completely covering it. As a result the Moon’s brightness will begin to dim, as it is less strongly illuminated by the Sun, but it remains illuminated. Although the Moon’s light dims considerably during a penumbral eclipse, this is only perceptible to those with very astute vision, or in carefully controlled photographs. This is a rare occasion when the whole of the Moon’s face will pass within the Earth’s penumbra, and so the reduction of the Moon’s brightness will be more perceptible than usual. Such events are called total penumbral lunar eclipses, and are rare because the statistical chance that the Moon will enter the Earth’s umbra at some point is very high once it has passed fully within its penumbra, and this makes an eclipse a partial lunar eclipse. For the UK, the eclipse will only be visible on moonset.

18th September – MOON/URANUS – Conjunction – The Moon and Uranus will make a close approach, passing within 2°48′ of each other. From Scarborough, the pair will be visible in the morning sky, becoming accessible at around 20:43, when they rise 7° above your eastern horizon. They will then reach its highest point in the sky at 02:39, 44° above your southern horizon. They will be lost to dawn twilight at around 06:19, 26° above your south-western horizon. At the moment of closest approach, the Moon will be at mag -12.7, and Uranus at mag 5.7, both in the constellation Pisces. The pair will be too widely separated to fit within the field of view of a telescope, but will be visible to the naked eye or through a pair of binoculars.

21st September – METEORS – The Piscid meteor shower will reach its maximum rate of activity on 21 September 2016. Some shooting stars associated with the shower are expected to be visible each night from Sep to Oct. The maximum rate of meteors expected to be visible from a dark location is around 5 per hour (ZHR). The Moon will be 20 days old at the time of peak activity, and so will present significant interference in the pre-dawn sky. The radiant of the Piscid meteor shower is at around right ascension 00h10m, declination +00°, as shown by the green cross on the planetarium above. At midnight, it appears 32° above your south-eastern horizon from Scarborough. All of the meteors will appear to be travelling directly outward from this point. To see the most meteors, the best place to look is not directly at the radiant itself, but at any dark patch of sky which is around 30–40° away from it. It is at a distance of around this distance from the radiant that meteors will show reasonably long trails without being too spread out.

21st September – MOON/STARS – Aldebaran will be approximately 0.2° south of the moon at around 22:45

22nd September – AUTUMN EQUINOX – Today at 15:21 is the September equinox, a day when the Sun is above the horizon for exactly half the time everywhere on Earth. According to the astronomical definitions of the seasons, this day marks the beginning of autumn in the northern hemisphere and of spring in the southern hemisphere. On the day of the equinox, the Sun will appear to rise from the point on the horizon which lies due east, and set beneath the point which lies due west. This happens as the Sun’s annual journey across the sky, through the constellations of the zodiac, carries it across the celestial equator. As a result the Sun appears directly overhead at noon on the Earth’s equator. Equinoxes occur twice a year – in March and September – once when the Sun is travelling northwards, and once when it is travelling southwards. The position of the Sun at the moment of the March equinox is used to define the zero point of both right ascension and declination. At the September equinox, the Sun lies exactly opposite this point, at a right ascension of around 12 hours. As an added bonus, the likelihood of aurora activity increases as the Equinox approaches due to the plane of the earth relative to the sun. We see a substantial increase in the solar wind speed typically high 500’s (km/h) and even greater than 600 km/h. This increase coupled with any coronal hole high speed stream could really see things ramped up – that is why September and March are typically good months for auroras.

23rd September – MOON – Moon at last quarter – The Moon will reach the midpoint between full moon and new moon, when it is half illuminated. At this time of the month, it rises around midnight, and is visible in the early morning sky. From Scarborough, the Moon will be visible in the dawn sky, rising at 22:54 (BST) – 7 hours and 56 minutes before the Sun – and attaining an altitude of 53° above the southern horizon before fading from view as dawn breaks at around 06:26.

26th September – MOON/CLUSTER – The Beehive Cluster (M44), is only 5° north of this morning’s waning crescent moon (21% lit). Best time to view around 05:00 using binoculars

27th September – GALAXIES – The Andromeda Galaxy (M31) reaches its highest point in the sky around 01:30. As the moon approaches new moon this is a great time for viewing this incredible galaxy. A DSLR camera with only a medium zoom lens of 200mm is very capable of imaging Andromeda. Remember the 500 rule (ie 2.5 second exposures if taken on a fixed tripod – for a full frame or 1.5 second exposures on a cropped sensor camera)

28th September – MERCURY – Mercury reahes its Greatest Western Elongation of 17.9° from the sun. This is the best time to view Mercury since it will be at its highest point above the horizon in the morning sky. Look for the planet low in the eastern sky shortly before sunrise.

28th September – MARS/NEBULA – Mars lies 1.5° south of the Lagoon Nebula (M8). These will be visible together in a pair of binoculars. Look low in the south-southwest at 21:00. Mars is approx 6° above the horizon

29th September – ASTEROID – Asteroid 11 Parthenope will be well placed for observation, lying in the constellation Cetus, well above the horizon for much of the night. Regardless of your location on the Earth, 11 Parthenope will reach its highest point in the sky at around midnight local time. From Scarborough, it will be visible between 22:42 and 03:21. It will become accessible at around 22:42, when it rises 24° above your south-eastern horizon, and then reach its highest point in the sky at 01:04, 31° above your southern horizon. It will become inaccessible at around 03:21 when it sinks to 25° above your south-western horizon.

29th September – MOON/MERCURY – Mercury is approx 1° from the moon’s northern limb at 10:00 and this should be visible in daylight. The waning crescent moon (2% lit) is roughly 1/3rd the way up the sky in the southeast. Be careful with the telescope/binoculars/camera lens as the sun is not that far away – brilliant photographic opportunity here.

30th September – GALAXIES – M110, the brightest satellite galaxy of the Andromeda galaxy (M31) will be well placed for observation. It will reach its highest point in the sky at around midnight local time. At a declination of +41°40′, it is easiest to see from the northern hemisphere and cannot be seen from latitudes much south of 28°S. From Scarborough, it will be visible all night. It will become visible at around 20:04 (BST) as the dusk sky fades, 41° above your eastern horizon. It will be lost to dawn twilight at around 05:40, 44° above your western horizon. At magnitude 8.0, M110 is quite faint, and certainly not visible to the naked eye, but can be viewed through a pair of binoculars or small telescope. As we are approaching new moon (tomorrow) this is an ideal time to also look at other well placed deep sky objects such as the Beehive Cluster in Cancer (M44), Lagoon Nebula in Sagittarius (M8) and of course the superb Andromeda Galaxy (M31).

30th September – MOON/JUPITER – The waning crescent moon (1% lit) will occult Jupiter in broad daylight. This will be a tough one as both objects will be a little under 4° from the sun. Be VERY CAREFUL observing this.

Dates highlighted in BOLD are good photographic opportunities

AIUK – Astronomy Imaging UK – https://www.facebook.com/groups/453388178104679/

sister group to ……

AUK – Aurora UK – https://www.facebook.com/groups/AuroraUK/

Note: Times are UK (BST) unless noted differently.

Credit: Sky at Night magazine, own input and various online resources

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Now writing for the Daily Express

What a headline and one I never ever imagined I would be writing. Now if only it was to be a regular feature ….

I was recently contacted by a media agent to write an astronomy article and the piece appeared in the national newspaper The Daily Express.

 

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What’s Up – August 2016

Events of interest for August ….

AUGUST – NOCTILUCENT CLOUDS SEASON – The end of July starts the end of the noctilucent season. Usually seen 90-120 minutes after sunset low in the northwest and 90-120 minutes before sunrise low in the northeast.

1st August – DSO’s – With the New Moon tomorrow now is an ideal opportunity for viewing those Deep Sky Objects. Suggestions might be The Dumbbell Nebula (M27), the North American Nebula (NGC7000) and the Ring Nebula (M57).

1st August – METEORS – The Northern Capricornids shower reaches its peak tonight.

2nd August – MOON  – New moon – Great time for observing the milky way flowing through the Teapot asterism in Sagittarius.

4th August – MOON/MERCURY – Mercury is 1.75° north east of the waxing crescent moon (4% lit). Look for the pairing approx 20 minutes after sunset very low in the west. Venus is 8.5° to the right of Mercury.

5th August – MOON/JUPITER – Jupiter is 4° east of the waxing crescent moon (9% lit). Look for the pairing approx 40 minutes after sunset.

6th August – METEORS – The Southern Iota Aquariid Meteor shower reaches its peak tonight.

8th August – STAR – The bright star 5° below the waxing crescent moon (32% lit) is Spica

10th August – MOON  – 1st quarter moon

11th August – METEORS – Perseids Meteor Shower – The Perseids is one of the best meteor showers to observe, producing up to 60 meteors per hour at its peak. It is produced by comet Swift-Tuttle, which was discovered in 1862. The Perseids are famous for producing a large number of bright meteors. The shower runs annually from July 17 to August 24. It peaks this year on the night of August 11 and the morning of August 12. The waxing gibbous moon will set shortly after midnight, leaving fairly dark skies for should be an excellent early morning show. Best viewing will be from a dark location after midnight. Meteors will radiate from the constellation Perseus, but can appear anywhere in the sky.

12th August – Moon/Saturn Conjunction – The Moon and Saturn will make a close approach, passing within 3°37′ of each other. From Scarborough, the pair will be difficult to observe as they will appear no higher than 14° above the horizon. They will become visible at around 21:03 (BST) as the dusk sky fades, 14° above your southern horizon. They will then sink towards the horizon, setting 3 hours and 36 minutes after the Sun at 00:12. At the moment of closest approach, the Moon will be at mag -12.1, and Saturn at mag 0.1, both in the constellation Ophiuchus. The pair will be too widely separated to fit within the field of view of a telescope, but will be visible to the naked eye or through a pair of binoculars.

13th August – Globular Cluster – The globular cluster M15 (NGC 7078) in Pegasus will be well placed for observation. It will reach its highest point in the sky at around midnight local time. At a declination of +12°10′, it is easiest to see from the northern hemisphere; it can be seen at latitudes between 82°N and 57°S. From Scarborough, it will be visible all night. It will become visible at around 22:23 (BST) as the dusk sky fades, 37° above your south-eastern horizon. It will be lost to dawn twilight at around 03:51, 36° above your south-western horizon. At magnitude 6.4, M15 is quite faint, and certainly not visible to the naked eye, but can be viewed through a pair of binoculars or small telescope.

18th August – MOON  – Full Moon – The Moon will reach full phase. At this time in its monthly cycle of phases, the Moon lies almost directly opposite the Sun in the sky, placing it high above the horizon for much of the night. The sequence of full moons through the year are often assigned names according to the seasons in which they fall. This month’s will be the second to fall in summer 2016 – the Grain Moon. Over the nights following 18 August, the Moon will rise around an hour later each day, becoming prominent later in the night. Within a few days, it will only be visible in the pre-dawn and early-morning sky. By the time it reaches last quarter, a week after full moon, it will rise at around midnight and set at around noon. At the exact moment when the Moon reaches full phase, it will lie at a declination of -11°31′ in the constellation Capricornus , and so will appear highest in the southern hemisphere. It will be visible from all latitudes north of 68°N. Its distance from the Earth will be 374,000 km.

21st August – METEORS – α–Cygnid meteor shower –  The α–Cygnid meteor shower will reach its maximum rate of activity on 21 August 2016. Some shooting stars associated with the shower are expected to be visible each night from Jul to Aug. The maximum rate of meteors expected to be visible from a dark location is around 5 per hour (ZHR). The Moon will be 19 days old at the time of peak activity, and so will present significant interference in the pre-dawn sky. The radiant of the α–Cygnid meteor shower is at around right ascension 22h50m, declination +48°, as shown by the green cross on the planetarium above. At midnight, it appears 69° above your eastern horizon from Scarborough. All of the meteors will appear to be travelling directly outward from this point, as indicated by the white lines drawn above. To see the most meteors, the best place to look is not directly at the radiant itself, but at any dark patch of sky which is around 30–40° away from it. It is at a distance of around this distance from the radiant that meteors will show reasonably long trails without being too spread out. The moon is really going to hamper viewing conditions though.

22nd August – Moon/Uranus Conjunction – The Moon and Uranus will make a close approach, passing within 2°52′ of each other. From Scarborough, the pair will be visible in the morning sky, becoming accessible at around 22:30, when they rise 7° above your eastern horizon. They will then reach its highest point in the sky at 04:28, 44° above your southern horizon. They will be lost to dawn twilight at around 05:27, 43° above your southern horizon. At the moment of closest approach, the Moon will be at mag -12.5, and Uranus at mag 5.8, both in the constellation Pisces. The pair will be too widely separated to fit within the field of view of a telescope, but will be visible to the naked eye or through a pair of binoculars.

24th August – Mars/Saturn Conjunction – Mars and Saturn will make a close approach, passing within 4°21′ of each other. From Scarborough, the pair will be difficult to observe as they will appear no higher than 13° above the horizon. They will become visible at around 20:36 (BST) as the dusk sky fades, 13° above your southern horizon. They will then sink towards the horizon, setting 3 hours and 12 minutes after the Sun at 23:21. At the moment of closest approach, Mars will be at mag -0.9, and Saturn at mag 0.1, both in the constellation Ophiuchus. The pair will be too widely separated to fit within the field of view of a telescope, but will be visible to the naked eye or through a pair of binoculars.

25th August – MOON  – Last quarter moon – The Moon will reach the midpoint between full moon and new moon, when it is half illuminated. At this time of the month, it rises around midnight, and is visible in the early morning sky. From Scarborough, the Moon will be visible in the dawn sky, rising at 23:11 (BST) – 6 hours and 45 minutes before the Sun – and attaining an altitude of 48° above the south-eastern horizon before fading from view as dawn breaks at around 05:30.

27th August – Jupiter/Venus – These bright planets appear less than 9 arcminutes apart can be observed low in the west after sunset.

31st August – MOON – Fantastic time to observe/photograph a think (1% lit) lunar crescent 45 minutes before sunrise low in the east.

Dates highlighted in BOLD are good photographic opportunities

AIUK – Astronomy Imaging UK – https://www.facebook.com/groups/453388178104679/

sister group to ……

AUK – Aurora UK – https://www.facebook.com/groups/AuroraUK/

Note: Times are UK unless noted differently.

Credit: Sky at Night magazine and various online resources

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After the gardening a rainbow

Gardening done, lawn mowed, logs cut and moved, 9 hole putting green made – still lots to do so no sitting back yet.

Next on the list is sorting out electrics into the garden and that also includes to the pond as well as to a point in the garden where eventually I will place an observatory.

Definitely looking a lot neater (and brighter) since I moved in, amazing what can be done in just a few months  🙂

 

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What’s Up – July 2016

Events of interest for July ….
JULY – NOCTILUCENT CLOUDS SEASON – The end of May brings the start of the noctilucent season. Usually seen 90-120 minutes after sunset low in the northwest and 90-120 minutes before sunrise low in the northeast.
1st July – DSO’s – With the New Moon in 3 days time, now is an ideal opportunity for viewing those Deep Sky Objects
2nd July – MOON – Aldebaran 0.4 degrees south of the moon (7% lit) around 04:30
4th July – NEW MOON – Great time for observing the Milky Way
9th July – MOON/JUPITER – Jupiter is 6 degrees east of the waxing crescent moon (30% lit) around 23:00
12th July – MOON – 1st quarter moon – The Moon will reach the midpoint between new moon and full moon, when it is half illuminated. At this time of the month, it is visible in the evening sky, and sets around midnight. From Scarborough, the Moon will be difficult to observe as it will appear no higher than 19° above the horizon. It will become visible at around 21:58 (BST) as the dusk sky fades, 19° above your south-western horizon. It will then sink towards the horizon, setting 3 hours and 9 minutes after the Sun at 00:35.
13th July – MOON – Moon at apogee – The Moon will reach the furthest point along its orbit to the Earth, and as a result will appear slightly smaller than at other times. The Moon’s distance from the Earth varies because its orbit is not perfectly circular – it is instead slightly oval-shaped, tracing out a path called an ellipse. As the Moon traverses this elliptical path around the Earth each month, its distance varies by around 10%, between 363,000 km and 405,000 km. This means that its size in the night sky also varies over the course of each month, by around 13%. It brightness also varies slightly – the Moon appears a little brighter when it is closer to the Earth. In practice, however, this variability is swamped by the much stronger effect that the Moon’s changing phases have over its brightness. The Moon’s distance varies between perigee (closest approach), apogee (furthest recess) and back again once every 27.555 days – a period of time called an anomalistic month. This is very close to the Moon’s orbital period (27.322 days), but slightly longer. As the apogee of 13 July 2016 will occur when the moon is around first quarter phase, it will appear in the evening sky. On this occasion the Moon will recede to a distance of 404,000 km from the Earth and appear with an angular diameter of 29.54 arcsec. This may be compared to its average size of 31.07 arcmin. The genuine variation in the Moon’s angular size that is associated with its changing distance from the Earth should not be confused with the Moon illusion – an optical illustion that makes the Moon appear much larger than it really is when it is close to the horizon. The reason why we experience this optical illusion is still hotly debated.
14th July – MOON/MARS – The waxing gibbous moon (76% lit) is 6.75° north of Mars.
15th July – MOON/SATURN – The waxing gibbous moon (83% lit) is 4.5° northwest of Saturn around 23:00. The gap closes to 3.75° at around 02:00 as they are both about to set.
15th July – METEORS – Capricornid Meteor Shower – The Capricornid meteor shower will reach its maximum rate of activity on 15 July 2016. Some shooting stars associated with the shower are expected to be visible each night from Jul to Aug. The maximum rate of meteors expected to be visible from a dark location is around 5 per hour (ZHR). The Moon will be 11 days old at the time of peak activity, and being so close to Full Moon, will severely limit the observations that will be possible. The radiant of the Capricornid meteor shower is at around right ascension 20h00m, declination -15°, as shown by the green cross on the planetarium above. At midnight, it appears 17° above your south-eastern horizon from Scarborough. All of the meteors will appear to be travelling directly outward from this point, as indicated by the white lines drawn above. To see the most meteors, the best place to look is not directly at the radiant itself, but at any dark patch of sky which is around 30–40° away from it. It is at a distance of around this distance from the radiant that meteors will show reasonably long trails without being too spread out. However, 4 days before full moon viewing is going to be tough !
16th July – VENUS/MERCURY – Mercury will appear just 0.5° north of Venus this evening. The pair will be visible low in the northwest just after sunset.
16th July – MOON/SATURN – Conjunction – The Moon and Saturn will make a close approach, passing within 3°24′ of each other. From Scarborough, the pair will be difficult to observe as they will appear no higher than 15° above the horizon. They will be visible in the evening sky, becoming visible at around 21:54 (BST) as the dusk sky fades, 15° above your southern horizon. They will then reach its highest point in the sky at 21:56, 15° above your southern horizon. They will continue to be observable until around 00:39, when they sink to 8° above your south-western horizon. At the moment of closest approach, the Moon will be at mag -12.4, and Saturn at mag -0.0, both in the constellation Ophiuchus. The pair will be too widely separated to fit within the field of view of a telescope, but will be visible to the naked eye or through a pair of binoculars.
17th July – PLANETS – Five major planets will be visible shortly after sunset although quite low in the evening sky. Mercury and Venus low in the northwest, Jupiter low in the west while Saturn and Mars low in the south.
19th July – FULL MOON – The Moon will reach full phase. At this time in its monthly cycle of phases, the Moon lies almost directly opposite the Sun in the sky, placing it high above the horizon for much of the night. The sequence of full moons through the year are often assigned names according to the seasons in which they fall. This month’s will be the first to fall in summer 2016 – the Hay Moon. Over the nights following 19 July, the Moon will rise around an hour later each day, becoming prominent later in the night. Within a few days, it will only be visible in the pre-dawn and early-morning sky. By the time it reaches last quarter, a week after full moon, it will rise at around midnight and set at around noon. At the exact moment when the Moon reaches full phase, it will lie at a declination of -17°03′ in the constellation Sagittarius , and so will appear highest in the southern hemisphere. It will be visible from all latitudes north of 62°N. Its distance from the Earth will be 384,000 km.
21st July – METEORS – α–Cygnid meteor shower – The α–Cygnid meteor shower will reach its maximum rate of activity on 21 July 2016. Some shooting stars associated with the shower are expected to be visible each night from Jul to Aug. The maximum rate of meteors expected to be visible from a dark location is around 5 per hour (ZHR). The Moon will be 17 days old at the time of peak activity, and being so close to Full Moon, will severely limit the observations that will be possible. The radiant of the α–Cygnid meteor shower is at around right ascension 20h50m, declination +48°, as shown by the green cross on the planetarium above. At midnight, it appears 70° above your eastern horizon from Scarborough. All of the meteors will appear to be travelling directly outward from this point, as indicated by the white lines drawn above. To see the most meteors, the best place to look is not directly at the radiant itself, but at any dark patch of sky which is around 30–40° away from it. It is at a distance of around this distance from the radiant that meteors will show reasonably long trails without being too spread out.
23rd – METEORS – Perseid Meteor Shower – The start of the Perseid Meteor Shower begins today, peaks around 12th August and tails off around 23rd August. This is a very active show as it approaches the peak with 150 meteors/hour possible.
26th July – MOON/URANUS – Uranus is just 5° north of the waning gibbous moon (61% lit) around 00:30. 3 hours later, the apparent gap between them will have closed to 4.3°.
28th July – METEORS – Delta Aquarids Meteor Shower. The Southern Delta Aquarids is an average shower that can produce up to 20 meteors per hour at its peak. It is produced by debris left behind by comets Marsden and Kracht. The shower runs annually from July 12 to August 23. It peaks this year on the night of July 28 and morning of July 29. The second quarter moon will block most of the fainter meteors this year but if you are patient you should still be able to catch quite a few good ones. Best viewing will be from a dark location after midnight. Meteors will radiate from the constellation Aquarius, but can appear anywhere in the sky. The waning crescent moon (26% lit) should not cause too many problems.
29th July – METEORS – δ–Aquarid meteor shower – The δ–Aquarid meteor shower will reach its maximum rate of activity on 29 July 2016. Some shooting stars associated with the shower are expected to be visible each night from 15 Jul to 20 Aug. The maximum rate of meteors expected to be visible from a dark location is around 20 per hour (ZHR). The Moon will be 25 days old at the time of peak activity, and so will present minimal interference. The radiant of the δ–Aquarid meteor shower is at around right ascension 22h40m, declination -17°, as shown by the green cross on the planetarium above. At midnight, it appears 7° above your south-eastern horizon from Scarborough. All of the meteors will appear to be travelling directly outward from this point, as indicated by the white lines drawn above. To see the most meteors, the best place to look is not directly at the radiant itself, but at any dark patch of sky which is around 30–40° away from it. It is at a distance of around this distance from the radiant that meteors will show reasonably long trails without being too spread out.
29th July – MOON – Aldebaran 0.3 degrees south of the moon
31st July – METEORS – Piscis Australid meteor shower – The Piscis Australid meteor shower will reach its maximum rate of activity on 31 July 2016. Some shooting stars associated with the shower are expected to be visible each night from 15 Jul to 20 Aug. The maximum rate of meteors expected to be visible from a dark location is around 5 per hour (ZHR). The Moon will be 27 days old at the time of peak activity, and so will present minimal interference. The radiant of the Piscis Australid meteor shower is at around right ascension 22h40m, declination -30°, as shown by the green cross on the planetarium above. At midnight, it appears 3° below your south-eastern horizon from Scarborough. All of the meteors will appear to be travelling directly outward from this point, as indicated by the white lines drawn above. To see the most meteors, the best place to look is not directly at the radiant itself, but at any dark patch of sky which is around 30–40° away from it. It is at a distance of around this distance from the radiant that meteors will show reasonably long trails without being too spread out.

 

AIUK – Astronomy Imaging UK – https://www.facebook.com/groups/453…
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Gardening – it is never ending – piccie of the back garden

Constant gardening at the moment, hedges done and lawn mowed today. I still need to trim the tops of the conifers. Also need a mower with a grass collector so I can make a 9 hole putting green  🙂

Next job will be to sort out the pond area, it is very overgrown and I can feel a waterfall underneath the shrubbery. Emptying the pond, cleaning and check where the electrics are and what state they might be in.

Here is a HDR piccie of the back garden taken just as the sun was setting.

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What’s Up – June

Events of interest for June ….
 
JUNE – NOCTILUCENT CLOUDS SEASON – The end of May brings the start of the noctilucent season. Usually seen 90-120 minutes after sunset low in the northwest and 90-120 minutes before sunrise low in the northeast. Rember, as we approach the summer solstice, the sky never gets that dark so fainter objects will be difficult to view and capture.
 
3rd June – SATURN – Saturn rules the summer sky, but on this night, the ringed planet truly takes center stage. When it reaches opposition, Saturn will be bright and fully illuminated by the Sun. You may even notice that its rings look brighter than usual thanks to a phenomenon known as the Seeliger Effect. Take it all in! Saturn’s rings will be visible in even small aperture telescopes.
 
5th June – MOON – New Moon – The Moon will located on the same side of the Earth as the Sun and will not be visible in the night sky. This phase occurs at 02:59 UTC. This is the best time of the month to observe faint objects such as galaxies and star clusters because there is no moonlight to interfere.
 
5th June – MERCURY – The planet Mercury reaches greatest western elongation of 24.2 degrees from the Sun. This is the best time to view Mercury since it will be at its highest point above the horizon in the morning sky. Look for the planet low in the eastern sky just before sunrise.
 
9th June – Globular Cluster – The globular cluster M92 (NGC 6341) in Hercules will be well placed for observation. It will reach its highest point in the sky at around midnight local time. At a declination of +43°07′, it is easiest to see from the northern hemisphere and cannot be seen from latitudes much south of 26°S. It will become visible at around 23:34 (BST) as the dusk sky fades, 73° above your eastern horizon. It will be lost to dawn twilight at around 02:28, 73° above your south-western horizon. At magnitude 6.5, M92 is quite faint, and certainly not visible to the naked eye, but can be viewed through a pair of binoculars or small telescope.
 
10th June – METEORS – Ophiuchid and Lyrid meteor showers – The Ophiuchid meteor shower will reach its maximum rate of activity on 10 June 2016. Some shooting stars associated with the shower are expected to be visible each night from 19 May to Jul. The maximum rate of meteors expected to be visible from a dark location is around 5 per hour (ZHR). The Moon will be 5 days old at the time of peak activity, and so will present minimal interference. The radiant of the Ophiuchid meteor shower is at around right ascension 16h40m, declination -23°. To see the most meteors, the best place to look is not directly at the radiant itself, but at any dark patch of sky which is around 30–40° away from it. It is at a distance of around this distance from the radiant that meteors will show reasonably long trails without being too spread out.
 
11th June – MOON/JUPITER – The Moon (44% lit) and Jupiter will make a close approach, passing within 1°25′ of each other. From Scarborough, the pair will become visible at around 22:07 (BST) as the dusk sky fades, 28° above your south-western horizon. They will then sink towards the horizon, setting 4 hours and 1 minute after the Sun at 01:33. At the moment of closest approach, the Moon will be at mag -11.7, and Jupiter at mag -2.0, both in the constellation Leo. The pair will be too widely separated to fit within the field of view of a telescope, but will be visible to the naked eye or through a pair of binoculars.
 
12th June – MOON – Moon at first quarter – The Moon will reach the midpoint between new moon and full moon, when it is half illuminated. At this time of the month, it is visible in the evening sky, and sets around midnight. From Scarborough, the Moon will become visible at around 22:05 (BST) as the dusk sky fades, 27° above your south-western horizon. It will then sink towards the horizon, setting 4 hours and 3 minutes after the Sun at 01:34.
 
15th June – MOON – The Moon (81% lit) will reach the furthest point along its orbit to the Earth (apogee), and as a result will appear slightly smaller than at other times. The Moon’s distance from the Earth varies because its orbit is not perfectly circular – it is instead slightly oval-shaped, tracing out a path called an ellipse. As the Moon traverses this elliptical path around the Earth each month, its distance varies by around 10%, between 363,000 km and 405,000 km. This means that its size in the night sky also varies over the course of each month, by around 13%. It brightness also varies slightly – the Moon appears a little brighter when it is closer to the Earth. In practice, however, this variability is swamped by the much stronger effect that the Moon’s changing phases have over its brightness. The Moon’s distance varies between perigee (closest approach), apogee (furthest recess) and back again once every 27.555 days – a period of time called an anomalistic month. This is very close to the Moon’s orbital period (27.322 days), but slightly longer. For more information on why these periods don’t exacty match, see In-The-Sky.org’s glossary article for the term month. As the apogee of 15 June 2016 will occur when the moon is around first quarter phase, it will appear in the evening sky. On this occasion the Moon will recede to a distance of 405,000 km from the Earth and appear with an angular diameter of 29.49 arcsec. This may be compared to its average size of 31.07 arcmin. The genuine variation in the Moon’s angular size that is associated with its changing distance from the Earth should not be confused with the Moon illusion – an optical illustion that makes the Moon appear much larger than it really is when it is close to the horizon. The reason why we experience this optical illusion is still hotly debated.
15th June – METEORS – Peak of the Lyrid meteor shower but the moon will hamper viewing conditions.
18th June – SATURN – Titan reaches greatest western elongation from Saturn today. It is possible to glimpse Titan using binoculars.
19th June – MOON/SATURN – The Moon (97% lit) and Saturn will make a close approach, passing within 3°13′ of each other. From Scarborough, the pair will be difficult to observe as they will appear no higher than 15° above the horizon. They will be visible in the evening sky, becoming visible at around 22:08 (BST) as the dusk sky fades, 12° above your south-eastern horizon. They will then reach its highest point in the sky at 23:49, 15° above your southern horizon. They will continue to be observable until around 02:30, when they sink to 8° above your south-western horizon. At the moment of closest approach, the Moon will be at mag -12.5, and Saturn at mag -0.1, both in the constellation Ophiuchus. The pair will be too widely separated to fit within the field of view of a telescope, but will be visible to the naked eye or through a pair of binoculars.
 
20th Jun – MOON – Full Moon – The Moon will reach full phase. At this time in its monthly cycle of phases, the Moon lies almost directly opposite the Sun in the sky, placing it high above the horizon for much of the night. The sequence of full moons through the year are often assigned names according to the seasons in which they fall. This month’s will be the third to fall in spring 2016 – the Flower Moon. Over the nights following 20 June, the Moon will rise around an hour later each day, becoming prominent later in the night. Within a few days, it will only be visible in the pre-dawn and early-morning sky. By the time it reaches last quarter, a week after full moon, it will rise at around midnight and set at around noon. At the exact moment when the Moon reaches full phase, it will lie at a declination of -18°33′ in the constellation Sagittarius , and so will appear highest in the southern hemisphere. It will be visible from all latitudes north of 61°N. Its distance from the Earth will be 394,000 km.
 
20th June – JUNE SOLSTICE – The June solstice occurs at 22:34 UTC. The North Pole of the earth will be tilted toward the Sun, which will have reached its northernmost position in the sky and will be directly over the Tropic of Cancer at 23.44 degrees north latitude. This is the first day of summer (summer solstice) in the Northern Hemisphere and the first day of winter (winter solstice) in the Southern Hemisphere. The ISS usually reaches peak brightness around this time of the year favouring the northern hemisphere. However, the full moon will be a distraction.
25th June – SATURN – Titan reaches it’s 2nd greatest western elongation of the month from Saturn today. It is possible to glimpse Titan using binoculars.
26th June – MOON/NEPTUNE – Neptune reappears from a lunar occultation at 00:39 this morning (23:39 UTC on the 25th). This will be a tough one due to the planet’s low altitude and favours those living in the east of the UK.
29th June – MOON/URANUS – The Moon and Uranus will make a close approach, passing within 2°34′ of each other. From Scarborough, the pair will be visible in the dawn sky, rising at 01:06 (BST) – 3 hours and 24 minutes before the Sun – and attaining an altitude of 23° above the eastern horizon before fading from view as dawn breaks at around 03:55. At the moment of closest approach, the Moon will be at mag -11.6, and Uranus at mag 5.9, both in the constellation Pisces. The pair will be too widely separated to fit within the field of view of a telescope, but will be visible to the naked eye or through a pair of binoculars.
 
 
AIUK – Astronomy Imaging UK – https://www.facebook.com/groups/453388178104679/
sister group to ……
AUK – Aurora UK – https://www.facebook.com/groups/AuroraUK/
 
Note: Times are UK unless noted differently.
 
Credit: Sky at Night magazine and various online resources
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My new garden after tree removal

Spent a small fortune clearing the garden of several big trees but it has really opened it up and makes it look a lot more spacious. Will probably make a little 18 hole putting green on it for some fun.

The astrophotography plan is now realised and has a great chance especially with full views to the east, almost full to the south and pretty good views north. There remains one tree outside the property that requires a trim. No security lights or any light pollution around at all  🙂

Here are a couple of views of before and after and a panoramic stitched photo.

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And a stitched panoramic taken from the front of the house looking towards the back.

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I will be inviting some of my astronomy friends around for advice on the best spot to site the telescope observatory. Rough coordinates have been added to the above photo.

All the logs have now been moved off the garden and will be cut for my log burner and some to be sold for the “observatory fund”  😉

 

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