Latest news from the observing sections

As well as offering observing advice and producing reports on members’ observations, the SPA’s Observing Sections publish occasional news items about their field of astronomy. Here are the latest. You can read more on each Section’s individual area of this site.

  • Planetary Section Report: December 2020 and January 2021
    by Alan Clitherow on 22nd February 2021 at 2:32 pm

    The term ‘Great Conjunction’ is given to the alignment of the planets Jupiter and Saturn, as seen from Earth; a Great Conjunction happens roughly every 20 years. December 21st 2020 saw one of the closest of these conjunctions since 1623Read more Source

  • Blank Sun Returns
    by Geoff Elston on 6th February 2021 at 3:30 pm

    The Sun is currently spotless.

  • Annual Report 2020
    by Matthew Barrett on 31st January 2021 at 4:58 pm

    The Annual Report for 2020 is now available for download. Look under the Section Report heading, or click on the link below: Variable Star Reports Source

  • Chi Cygni
    by Matthew Barrett on 31st January 2021 at 4:51 pm

    Chi Cygni is now visible in binoculars and is predicted to reach maximum in March. Chi Cygni reached magnitude 5.5 during its 2020 maximum, so it’ll be interesting to see how bright it becomes this year. Chi Cygni is currentlyRead more Source

  • Looking Forward to the Planets in February and March 2021
    by Alan Clitherow on 29th January 2021 at 5:18 pm

    Mercury passes between the Earth and the Sun on the 8th of February and thereafter moves into the morning sky. This is a very good apparition for equatorial and southern-hemisphere observers but is low as seen from the UK. Mercury,Read more Source

  • Planetary Section Report; October and November 2020. The Opposition of Mars
    by Alan Clitherow on 28th December 2020 at 9:04 pm

    For the UK, early October saw one of the best oppositions of Mars for many a long year. Martian oppositions happen in a cycle with the relative positions of Earth and Mars returning to about the same place every 15thRead more Source

  • Meteor Outlook for January-March 2021
    by Mark McIntyre on 8th December 2020 at 12:00 am

    There is only one shower of note in the first three months of the year. The Quadrantids have a short sharp peak centred on 04 Jan, and unfortunately this year it coincides with a nearly full Moon so the displayRead more Source

  • The planets in December 2020 and January 2021
    by Alan Clitherow on 3rd December 2020 at 12:31 pm

    For UK observers Mercury starts December very low in the south-eastern morning sky and will be hard to catch before sunrise. It moves into Superior conjunction, behind the Sun, on the 20th and may just be glimpsed in the westernRead more Source

  • Planetary Section Report for August and September 2020
    by Alan Clitherow on 26th October 2020 at 2:25 pm

    This was a very enjoyable period for planetary observation with lots going on. Venus was at its greatest morning (western) elongation from the Sun on the 13th of August and Jupiter was receiving a lot of interest with the JunoRead more Source

  • Meteor Outlook for November and December 2020
    by Mark McIntyre on 9th October 2020 at 11:00 pm

    The winter months bring long hours of darkness and two of the year’s highlights, the Geminids and Quadrantids. The Geminids peak on 13-14 December and this year they coincide with the nearly-new Moon, so conditions are perfect. If skies areRead more Source