Big thanks to astronomer Steve Owens and Celtic storyteller Alis Ballance for hosting our astronomy and storytelling streams this evening up at Abriachan Forest.
Cosmosis was realised by a combination of Alis’s captivating Gaelic creation myths and Steve’s tour de scientific of the Solar System.
Although skies started off cloudy we were blessed with decent patches of open sky at the end for a deftly guided laser pointer finale, taking in Orion and other bright constellations. Plus binocular and telescopic views of the crescent Moon
One of the most amazing parting shots of the planet Pluto, backlit by our distant Sun. Taken by the New Horizons probe as it rushed away from the planet in 2015. Look closely and Plutonian mountains can be seen casting long shadows through the hazy blue atmosphere.
As of now Pluto is the only trans-Neptunian object with a known atmosphere.
I hope you enjoy this short video about the planet Mercury, which you can currently see during late evening, low on the NW horizon. Mercury is also approaching its maximum evening elongation on the 17th May.
Joining me once again is Steve Owens, astronomer at Glasgow Science Centre and author of Stargazing For Dummies.
In this video podcast we discuss:
1. Tips for observing Mercury safely.
2. Mercury’s phases.
3. The surface geology of Mercury and how this reveals tantalising hints about its history and formation.
Have you noticed the dazzling red star high in the East during late evening? That’s the planet Mars and it’s now nearing opposition on October 13th, offering some of the best naked eye and telescopic views possible.
Opposition is when Mars and Earth reach their closest approach to each other with respect to their independent orbits around the Sun. For Mars and Earth, this happens every 2 years and 2 months.
With the planet’s relatively high altitude and closeness around opposition, current views of the planet even with moderately powerful telescopes should be striking, perhaps revealing dim surface features and polar caps.
These images from Instagram’s @nightskyflying show the dramatic size and clarity change of Mars over a period of many months. If you don’t have a telescope it’s still worth looking up to appreciate the brightness of Mars as a naked eye planet at the moment.