A Timely Reform by Ian Ridley

Blog & web site of Ian Ridley

Archive for the ‘Astronomy’ Category

Possible Meteor Storm Tomorrow

Friday, October 7th, 2011
Draconid Meteor Shower Radiant

Draconid Meteor Shower Radiant - "the Plough" is to the bottom left

No, don’t panic. It is not the end of the world. Just some dust particles burning up in the atmosphere.

On the evening of Saturday 8th October, astronomers predict there is a chance that the Draconid meteor shower may exhibit storm-force levels. This means several meteors may be visible each minute.

Meteor showers are usually associated with a “parent” comet: the earth passes near the comet’s orbit and small particles left behind by the comet enter our atmosphere. There are several showers throughout the year and they usually produce a few tens of meteors per hour.

Rarely, the earth passes through a denser cloud of particles and hundreds of meteors might be seen. This could happen tomorrow night some time between 8pm and midnight. Some fainter meteors won’t be visible because the Moon will interfere. Still it will be worth looking north-west  from a dark spot if you can.

More information and observing tips can be found at the Meteor Watch site.

A rare sighting of Mercury

Thursday, April 8th, 2010

I saw the planet Mercury for only the second time on Sunday evening. It’s a tricky planet to spot as it stays so close to the Sun on our sky and is only seen just after sunset or sunrise.

For the next week or so the brilliant “star” that is the planet Venus points the way. Venus can been seen low in the west just after sunset. At around 8.30pm or after you should be able to spot fainter Mercury to the right of Venus. A clear gap in the clouds is the main problem to seeing it.

An early Christmas present

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2006

As the nights got longer in late November, I finally bought a telescope. I had one loaned to me briefly when I was doing GSCE Astronomy at school and was also able to use the Manor Road observatory when I was Leicester University.

My new ‘scope is similar to the one I had at school. It’s a Skywatcher Explorer 150 – a 6″ Newtonian Reflector on an equatorial mount.

I’ve had the ‘scope for about 6 weeks now and of course on most of evenings when I might have used it the sky was cloudy. But I’ve had a couple of decent clear evenings now.

Mars is well-placed at the moment and Venus was a pretty good evening object in December but you had to be quick or it disappeared behind the trees soon after the Sun had set.

I hope to look at the Moon next and some clusters.