Stargazing Guide to April Skies

This took way more time than I anticipated to edit but it was great fun putting together with my friend Steve Owens. I hope you enjoy this more conversational style look at the stars.

It’s a good 30 minutes long so best grab yourself a brew or beverage of choice and get comfortable for this one.

Discussions in this episode include:

1. A farewell look at Orion and nearby stars and clusters

2. The crescent Moon in mid April

3. Planet Mars

4. Leo and the double star Algeiba

5. Northern skies and Polaris

6. The M81 and M82 galaxies

Happy April skywatching and stargazing!

Binocular Moon

Here’s a short video I edited together celebrating binocular views of our Moon. All footage was shot using a simple tripod mounted binocular setup and captured via mobile phone (so pretty low resolution). I especially love observing the Moon emerging from layers of clouds – something we’re in no short supply of here in Scotland.I hope you enjoy it. Music kindly provided by Rising Galaxy at Cosmicleaf Records

Observing the Moon

Here’s a video (with some voice over) I shot last night when out Moon gazing from my back garden.

I never ever regret the tiny effort and time investment involved in digging out my binoculars or telescope to have a look at the Moon.

Clear skies.

Venus – Morning Star

 

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Waing crescent Moon next to Venus – Inverness

After blazing in the NW after sunset during the depths of lockdown, Venus has now completed its passage in front of the Sun (from our perspective) and now slowly emerging as a morning apparition.

At the moment you’ll need to rise very early to catch it due to very bright skies – binoculars or a telescope might be needed.

The morning of the 19th June is particularly special as both Venus and the wafer thin crescent Moon will sit very close to each other. In fact, later the same morning the Moon will occult (hide) Venus for around an hour.

Astronomy From the Moon

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The full Moon

We had a fantastic evening learning about and observing the Moon up at Abriachan forest tonight with special guest Professor Martin Hendry from Glasgow University.

Many thanks to Martin for joining us again and sharing his fantastic knowledge of cutting-edge research and active space missions. In addition to his talk on past and future Moon missions we also got a bonus dose of gravitational wave theory and cosmology thrown in for good measure.

After Martin’s talk I took everyone outside for an open air Moon talk and observing session, with the 99.8% full lunar disc shining brightly above us towards the south east.  Complimenting handheld binocular views we setup a telescope and two larger tripod mounted 100mm binoculars for closeups views

We ended up having a lively discussion and Q&A about the Moon’s history, geology and cultural connections.  Clouds eventually rolled in for 9pm signalling home time and the end of a stimulating gathering.

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Observing the full Moon

Galileo and the Moon

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The waning gibbous Moon

I had a fun evening delivering a Moon talk and observing session for members of the Highland Italian Society in Inverness last night.

After an indoor presentation we headed outside where the waning gibbous Moon was on full display, plus a generous sprinkling of brighter stars.

I set up a big pair of tripod mounted 100×20 binoculars to replicate the stunning views Galileo saw when he first sketched the lunar surface in detail – captured in his Sidereus Nuncius. By then his telescope could achieve x20 magnifications, enough to reveal topographical detail along the Moon’s terminator.

Here’s some of the very early sketches Galileo made of the Moon at this time (from the Siderius Nuncius).

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Galileo’s early Moon sketches using his x20 magnification refractor

Unfortunately I had to refuse the generous amounts of wine on offer after the session as I was driving home. I left wondering if Galileo did his observing with a large glass of Chianti in hand?

The Highland Italian Circle meet on Inverness on the third Friday of the month from October to March. If you’re interesting in attending their gatherings please contact May Gillan on 01463 223563 or email maygillan@aol.com.