Popular Astronomy

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The phase of the moon for today. Updates every 4 hours
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Popular Astronomy

Popular Astronomy Magazine - January-February 2018
See what's in the January-February 2018 edition of 'Popular Astronomy' magazine. Click the cover to find out.

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Stargazing Live's Brian Cox recommends the SPA!

Look at all the benefits you get when you join . . .

Read all about it in Popular AstronomyArizona.jpg

Our bright, informative magazine Popular Astronomy arrives on your doormat every two months, giving you the very latest in astronomical news, from professional observatories to our own observing sections. It's more than just another astronomy magazine – it's your magazine, full of interesting material from our team of expert writers and from other members.

Get news of big discoveries with our members-only Newsletter

Our email Newsletters – sent to members only – provide a quick means of sending out news, from the latest celestial discoveries to SPA info.

    When there's a bright nova, supernova, comet, or even an aurora, we'll tell you, often within hours of the discovery.
    All members whose email addresses we hold can receive these newsletters, and can unsubscribe at any time.

Join in the fun with our Observing Sections
Whatever your observing interest, there's an section to suit you. Get expert advice from our section directors, send in your observations for comment, or just see what others have been looking at. There are nine separate sections:


Aurora watching involves scanning the northern sky at night for signs of these often spectacular glows. No apparatus is needed.


Comets excite people more than virtually any other astronomical body. Most comets are faint, but each year there are one or two visible with binoculars.

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Deep sky objects are the nebulae, clusters and galaxies. It’s amazing how many you can see with even a pair of binoculars or a small telescope.


Lunar section members observe the Moon with small telescopes. The Moon makes a perfect test object for improving your observing methods.


Meteor observers note details of shooting stars seen during a watch. When notes are combined, it is possible to work out how the meteor grains are distributed in space.


Occultations occur when the Moon passes in front of a star or planet. Precise timings of the event help to pinpoint the Moon’s position.


Planetary observing needs a telescope. But even with a small instrument you can record changes on the discs of Jupiter and Mars, and view the other major planets.


Solar work has the advantage that you need not stay up late at night! A small telescope will project sunspots, but NEVER look directly at the Sun through a telescope — you may be blinded!


Variable stars change brightness, often unexpectedly. Members estimate their brightness by comparing them with constant stars.

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Don't miss out on our regular meetings, held every three months on Saturday afternoons in London, with occasional extra dates in other cities. You’ll hear talks from the country’s top astronomers, both amateur and professional, and meet fellow enthusiasts.

There are special meetings from time to time. If you can’t get to meetings, there’s a report published in Popular Astronomy and you can view videos of most meetings on this website.

A crowded convention in Cambridge
Observing at a weekend course

Observing at a weekend course                          

Want more individual help? We arrange enjoyable weekend courses, too, at which you’ll get to meet other astronomers, hear talks and even observe, if it’s clear.

Get to know our observing sections better at our day-long biannual Convention, usually held in Cambridge, where you can see the work of the sections and hear talks about a wide variety of topics.

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Calling Young Stargazers!


If you're under 15, there's an SPA section just for you! You get all the benefits of being an SPA member, but at reduced cost, plus the exclusive Young Stargazers file.

There are special pages in Popular Astronomy just for you, including exciting projects and things to make and do, with extra mailings each year with information that the grown ups just don't get!

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Get help and advice

Got a question the books can’t answer? Members can get expert advice from our Inquiry Service. If we can’t tell you the answer straight away... we know someone who can. Telescope and star trails

Instrument There’s a bewildering array of telescopes available these days. Deciding which is right for you can be a daunting task – which is where our adviser can help.

Astro-imaging Photography remains an ever-popular means of capturing the sky, and our expert can help you when shooting the stars and the bodies of the Solar System whether you use conventional film, a digital camera or a specialised CCD camera. These are revolutionising amateur astronomy with their ability to pick up faint objects even in light polluted city skies.

Astronomy is a GCSE subject in schools. The SPA has a free GCSE advisory service, run by a teacher, to help members prepare for the exam. With our help, many have passed with flying colours!.

Light pollution The bane of many astronomers’ lives – but there are things all of us can do to help to reduce it. This is the place for expert help on how to tackle the problems, such as getting shields fitted to streetlights and dealing with badly designed lighting in your area.

Save money by joining Membership of the SPA also entitles you to discounts on a wide range of astronomy goods and services from many of the UK’s leading telescope suppliers, along with discounted admission into a number of scientific and astronomy centres around the country.

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Keep up to date with our E-bulletins


Members with e-mail addresses can be alerted to major discoveries and receive regular astronomical news updates with our free Electronic News Bulletins — a service unique to the SPA. You'll get recent stories from the world's astronomical news sources, written especially for the SPA, as well as news reports from our observing sections. And you could keep one step ahead of your astronomical pals when you hear of the latest comet or nova discovery! Click the page on the right to sign up.




Tue, 16 Jan 2018   - Coming soon! Our new website

Fri, 05 Jan 2018   - Early morning spectacular

Sun, 31 Dec 2017   - Did you see the fireball on 31 December?