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.

  • AR 2816 Now Visible
    by Geoff Elston on 19th April 2021 at 10:15 am

    My thanks to Carl Bowron for these images of AR2816 (white light, Calcium and Hydrogen-alpha):

  • Planetary Section Report; February and March 2021
    by Alan Clitherow on 16th April 2021 at 3:32 pm

    Disappointingly few good targets presented themselves to section observers in this period. Indeed the only really accessible evening planet was Mars and this was late in its current apparition. As a result, while still relatively high in the south-western sky,Read more Source

  • Fireball over Spain
    by Mark McIntyre on 6th April 2021 at 8:08 pm

    On the 1st of April a spectacular fireball was seen over the Spanish city of Toledo.  Reports suggest that it was seen as far away as 500km! There’s a great video (link below). Analysis suggests it burned up at 46kmRead more Source

  • Looking Forward to the Planets in April and May 2021
    by Alan Clitherow on 26th March 2021 at 8:36 pm

    Mercury starts April moving towards superior conjunction behind the Sun, reaching this point on the 19th. It can best be seen in the dark morning skies of the southern hemisphere before conjunction but afterwards moves on to the best eveningRead more Source

  • Binocular Variable in Cassiopeia
    by Matthew Barrett on 21st March 2021 at 12:42 pm

    A nova was discovered, in Cassiopeia, on the 18th of March, by Japanese amateur astronomer Yuji Nakamura, who reported it to Japan’s national observatory. It has been confirmed as a nova on the basis of its spectrum. The nova isRead more Source

  • Meteor Outlook for April to June 2021
    by Mark McIntyre on 15th March 2021 at 4:42 pm

    The Lyrids (LYR) peak on the afternoon of 22nd April and the ZHR can be up to 90 but 18-20 is more normal. The best time to watch is just before dawn, but a waxing crescent Moon will probably reduceRead more Source

  • Meteorites from the Feb 28th Fireball have been Found
    by Mark McIntyre on 9th March 2021 at 12:02 am

    Fragments of the spectacular fireball seen on the 28th of February 2021 have been recovered from near Winchcombe in Gloucestershire – and its a rare Carbonaceous Chondrite ! Of the 65,000 meteorites known to exist, only 1206 have been seenRead more Source

  • 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

  • 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