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31st March - 23rd April:3 weeks of Spectacular Science!
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Join us for exciting science week activities.
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read more » 18th Feb 2017 16:50
The Observatory Science Centre
Herstmonceux
Hailsham
East Sussex
BN27 1RN
Tel: 01323 832731
Fax: 01323 832741

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What to see on Open Evenings

Please note: the list of Open Evening Dates is on the Open Evenings page.
What to see on Saturday 18th March 2017
Time: 6.30pm - 11pm

The Sun will have already set at 6.10pm and the end of ASTRONOMICAL TWILIGHT is 8.03pm so by the time the Centre opens at 6.30pm it will be dark. The phase of the Moon is 1 day before LAST QUARTER so will not be visible througout the evening.

To see the sky chart for the 18th March visit Heavens Above. You will need to alter the times and dates in the boxes below the current chart to find out what is in the night sky on the dates of the open evenings.

With no Moon the deeper sky objects can be seen much clearer. A favourite at this time of the year is the ORION NEBULA which, although heading towards the western horizon now will still be prominent at the start of the evening. It is stunning through the telescopes. If you look at the constellation of Orion in the south westerly sky you should easily make out the 3 stars of his belt. Just below the belt you may spot, just with your eyes, a smudgy patch; this is the Orion nebula a massive stellar nursery. Through the telescopes it comes alive and you are able to see the gas and dust from which the hot young stars have formed.

Star clusters and double stars will also be visible throughout the evening including naked eye objects such as the Pleiades or seven sisters OPEN CLUSTER.

While Venus may still be seen as a prominent object with just your eyes it will be heading for the western horizon pretty quickly now and will probably too low to view through the historic telescopes. At MAGNITUDE -4.2 it is still very bright.

Mars will also be visible but at MAGNITUDE 1.4 it is well past its best and getting progressively dimmer. However, you should still be able to see it with just your eyes. It is rather reddish in colour but sets at about 9.45pm so will only be visible in the early part of the evening.

As Uranus sets in the west a might jewel begins to rise in the east - Jupiter! It will be too low on the horizon to see it through the historic telescopes initially but having risen above the horizon at about 8.30pm you may just get a glimpse of it before 11pm. The smaller scopes of the amateur astronomers will definitely be able to spot it because they are not so restricted by the domes and have the flexibility to spot objects low on the horizon (unlike the larger historic scopes). Jupiter is magnificent through the historic telescopes and the striped weather bands are easily made out on a good clear night. You should also be able to see the 4 largest moons - the Galilean moons. In order from west to east you should spot Ganymede, Io, Jupiter, Europa and furthest out Callisto. Through the telescopes everything is upside down and sometimes laterally inverted too so left becomes right or west becomes east as you view the planet.Check out which moon is the furthest away and you will be able to tell which one is which.

The amateur astromomers from Wealden Astronomical Society will be situated on the lawns and welcome you to come along and take a look through their telescopes.
What to see on Saturday 1st April 2017
8pm - 12.30am

The clocks have now sprung forward and we have entered British Summer Time making sunset an hour later. This means that the Sun will not set until 7.34pm; this is the reason for a later than normal start time. It will be reasonably dark when the Centre re-opens at 8pm but the end of ASTRONOMICAL TWILIGHT is not until 9.33pm so technically it will be dark but still in twilight hours. The phase of the Moon is a waxing crescent, 2 days before FIRST QUARTER and will not be setting until after the Centre closes at 12.30am so will be visible all night.

To see the sky chart for the 1st April visit Heavens Above. You will need to alter the times and dates in the boxes below the current chart to find out what is in the night sky on the dates of the open evening.

This particular phase of the Moon is stunning to look at through the telescopes. You are able to see craters and mountains as well as the Maria (or 'Seas').

Orion is now heading quickly towards the western horizon so will be too low for the Orion Nebula but Hercules is making an appearance in the eastern sky which means the fabulous GLOBULAR CLUSTER M13 will be visible later on in the evening. M13, is located on the right hand side of the body of Hercules (which looks like a key stone). It appears as a beautiful three dimensional ball of stars through the telescopes. 

The star of the show however is not a star at all; it is the planet Jupiter which will already have risen before 8pm and will be making its way to a high enough position in the sky for it to be visible through the historic telescopes. It will be at OPPOSITION on April 7th so the closest it will come to Earth this year and a fabulous time to look at this beautiful planet through the telescopes. It is in the CONSTELLATION of Virgo, close to the bright star Spica and is very bright at MAGNITUDE -2.4.

The GREAT RED SPOT on Jupiter will be passing the Centre of the planet at about 8pm so should be visible (albeit a bit faint) before and after this time. The four largest Moons (the Galilean Moons) will definitely be visible with Ganymede and Io on the western side and Europa and Callisto on the eastern side of Jupiter. Remember though the telescope looks at things upside down and back to front!

The amateur astromomers from Wealden Astronomical Society will also have their smaller telescopes out on the lawns and welcome you to come along and take a look.


OPEN EVENING 1st April
On Saturday the 1st April The Centre will re-open again for the evening at 8pm. Come and explore the Centre at night - it is a different atmosphere entirely. All the indoor hands-on interactive exhibits will be available and if the weather is good the main focus of the evening is looking through some of the country's largest telescopes at some fabulous night sky objects including the Moon and magnificent Jupiter. If the weather is not very good and you are not able to look through the telescopes don't worry, if there are enough visitors in The Centre we will have a fascinating planetarium style talk for you which will walk you through the wonders of the night sky showing you objects you wouldn't ordinarily see. Normal admission price applies but if you are visiting during the day and would like to return for the evening, then take advantage of our special offer of just £5 per person (only valid with a receipt purchased during the day on the 1st Aril). Alongside the historic telescopes there will be the smaller telescopes of local amateur astronomers.
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