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.

  • The Planets in August and September 2020
    by Alan Clitherow on 30th July 2020 at 6:11 pm

    Mercury starts this period very well placed, just past the peak of the best morning apparition of the year for UK observers. Catch it in the first 5 days of August when it should be rising at or shortly afterRead more

  • Active Region 2767 is Sunspot Cycle 25 Sunspot
    by Geoff Elston on 26th July 2020 at 2:51 pm

    AR2767 appeared a few days ago over the east limb of the Sun. It is a single type Hsx spot and at a fairly high southern latitude of -21 degrees and of the new Sunspot No. 25. Carl Bowron capturedRead more

  • NEOWISE now fading…
    by Stuart Atkinson on 26th July 2020 at 8:22 am

    If you haven’t managed to see the lovely Comet NEOWISE F3 with your naked eye yet you might have missed your chance. At its brightest a couple of weeks ago, as F3 was barrelling towards us after surviving its whipRead more

  • Comet NEOWISE Delights Northern Observers
    by Stuart Atkinson on 13th July 2020 at 11:55 am

    It’s been a long time coming, but northern hemisphere comet observers finally have a naked eye comet to see and photograph! Northerners have had a bit of a frustrating time recently. Just a month or so ago, comets SWAN andRead more

  • Finally – a naked eye comet in the northern sky!
    by Stuart Atkinson on 5th July 2020 at 10:12 am

      Exciting news – Comet NEOWISE F3 survived its perihelion passage around the Sun and is now bright enough to be seen with the naked eye from mid-northern latitudes. And it is reported to be a “lovely sight” in binocularsRead more

  • Planetary Observations in April and May 2020
    by Alan Clitherow on 2nd July 2020 at 11:43 am

    I am pleased to say the section has had a busy period with a large number of useful observations sent-in. The majority dealt with the fading evening apparition of Venus; observations starting just after that planet’s greatest eastern elongation fromRead more

  • Comet C/2020 F3 NEOWISE – 3rd Time Lucky?
    by Stuart Atkinson on 28th June 2020 at 8:58 am

    Well, here we go again..! In recent months northern hemisphere comet observers have been very frustrated by comets that looked very promising when their numbers were initially crunched, but then failed to behave as hoped. Comets ATLAS and then SWANRead more

  • Meteor Outlook for July and August 2020
    by Mark McIntyre on 14th June 2020 at 11:00 pm

    Although the summer months are short, we do have the benefit of warmer nights and – hopefully- one of the best meteor showers of the year, the Perseids (PER). This year the Perseids will peak on the 12th and 13thRead more

  • Looking Forward to the Planets in June and July 2020
    by Alan Clitherow on 28th May 2020 at 11:41 am

    Mercury is at its greatest eastern (evening) elongation from the Sun on the 4th of June and will become visible to UK observers on a compass bearing of 300 degrees, some 10 degrees above the horizon on that date; lookRead more

  • Farewell Comet SWAN…
    by Stuart Atkinson on 25th May 2020 at 8:36 pm

    It was perhaps inevitable that Comet SWAN F8 would let us down. After all, we put so much pressure on poor F8 after Comet ATLAS fell apart like a dropped packet of biscuits that anything less than being obvious toRead more