Planetary Conjunctions - April/May 2022

Included are the dates and closest realistic times to look at 5 of the 6 planets in the morning sky. Some of the closest approaches are in daylight, though this will matter little as all should remain visible in a wide angle eyepiece during hours of darkness. During the dates provided a couple of the planets will move notably.

For most of April, Mars, Saturn, and Venus are above the other planets, with Venus dropping toward the Sun notably during the month.
A good plan is to start looking between 5 and 5:30, a telescope being ideal, with binoculars useful. In all cases, one should observe to the East.

If skies are clear for any of the events, the writer (Ash P) will open the observatory from 4:30 am.

For Jupiter and Neptune, as they are lower to the horizon, observers will require a mostly unobstructed view. Currently Jupiter is bright above the horizon, so consider a trial run on the first available clear morning to recognise the planet.

The majority of the events are less than half a degree apart. This is the diameter of the full Moon.

Dates below:
April 5th: Saturn/Mars
April 13th: Jupiter/Neptune (very close)
April 28th: Venus/Neptune (ultra close)

May 1st: Venus/Jupiter (impressive, both bright objects)
May 18th: Mars/Neptune (both objects small discs)
May 29th: Mars/Jupiter (a little further apart)

For the April 28th event - I suggest you observe for up to an hour. Neptune passes very close to Venus around 6am local time. You will notice how quickly positions change. Neptune is the blue object, with a disc possibly observable.

Enjoy the spectacle - this is a fascinating run of events.

If you succeed in photographing any of these events, we have a magazine editor who would greatly appreciate your contributions.

- Ash Pennell

Lunar Eclipse - 26/05/21

An event for anyone who enjoys our night sky.

From the comfort of your own home perhaps with the assistance of binoculars or a telescope the Moon will be around 60 degrees altitude being clear of most obstacles .

Supermoon : Meaning the moon is around its closest point to the Earth (perigee) appearing about 10% larger than when it is most distant (apogee) although Moon's altitude will negate any impression of scale .

Blood Moon: Title implies colour , this is quite normal with Lunar eclipses although depth of colour can vary

Of added interest, the Moon is in the Constellation of Scorpion - one of the very rich star fields, the Eclipsed Moon will surrounded by many faint stars , a worthwhile event in itself .

When to start observing:

First contact around 8.58pm Moon enters Penumbra

9.44pm Moon enters Umbra

11.10pm Totality Begins

11.18pm Mid Eclipse

11.26pm Totality ends

01.50am All over

To Society all interested the Observatory will be open from 8.30pm until around Midnight with telescopes available .

The weather is looking good but as we head into the cold season we highly advise you to wrap up warm, if that's a coat and gloves or a blanket and onesie.

Enjoy the phenomenon

-- Ash Pennell

Great Conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn - 21/12/20

We call it a conjunction when two or more Planets appear side by side. Saturn and Jupiter appeared close some twenty years ago but come Monday will not have been this close for 400 years.

In reality Saturn is nearly twice the distance from Earth as Jupiter, it is only a visual alignment that gives us the chance to view the two disks plus both planets moons through an eyepiece of a telescope .

Binoculars will help a small disc of Jupiter Moons maybe, Saturn is too distant to view her rings, still an impressive sight.

A small telescope makes a difference.

The Beverly-Begg Observatory is not the location as the planets are low late in our summer twilight, both objects will be obscured by trees and the hill around Belleknowes. The Observatory will not be open.

Find a viewing site that has good South West visibility Both Planets exceed any other object in brightness and should be easy to spot being close together. Some ideal locations include Signal Hill and Mount Cargill, where members may be watching the conjunction.

Weather forecast is a modest possibility Sunday or Tuesday will offer worthwhile views if clear. Remember you only need a modest patch of clear sky at the right time to spot the Planets.

Good luck.