11-12 August 2020 – the Perseids

The night of  11/12  August will be the peak of the Perseids, one of the most famous prolific meteor showers. Meteors (also known as shooting stars) are bright streaks of light caused by small lumps of rock or metal called meteoroids hitting the Earth's atmosphere at a very high speed (in the case of the Perseids… Continue reading 11-12 August 2020 – the Perseids

Surveying the Cosmos – Part I

In this post I'm going to talk about a new 500 million dollar telescope,  the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST), being built at Cerro Pachón in Chile,  and the survey of the cosmos it will  be undertaking over a 10 year period. Cerro Pachón is located in the foothills of the Andes at a latitude… Continue reading Surveying the Cosmos – Part I

Dark Sky Places

In this post I will talk about the work of the International Dark-Sky Association (https://www.darksky.org/)and the visit I made a few years ago to the Kielder Observatory, which is in the Northumberland Dark Sky park in northern  England. The International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) was founded in 1988 by David Crawford a professional astronomer, who spent… Continue reading Dark Sky Places

The Brightness of Venus

Anyone, even the most casual observer,  looking at  the evening sky in the last month will have noticed the brilliant white planet Venus shining in the west. Often known as the Evening Star, Venus is the third brightest natural object in the sky after the Sun and the Moon. In this post I’ll talk about… Continue reading The Brightness of Venus

Measuring and Mapping Light Pollution

As discussed in a previous post , light pollution is a major nuisance to astronomers both amateur and professional. When astronomers classify how much light pollution there is at a particular location, they often use the Bortle Scale, devised by John Bortle and first published in the popular astronomy magazine Sky and Telescope (Bortle 2001). Rather… Continue reading Measuring and Mapping Light Pollution