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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

What to see on Friday 17th and Saturday 18th February 2017
Time: 6.30pm - 11pm

The South Downs National Park were designated a Dark Sky Reserve in 2016. To celebrate they are holding a festival during 11-26 February. Events are happening throughout the region and as such we are running Open Evenings to help them celebrate.

The Sun will have already set at 5.20pm and the end of ASTRONOMICAL TWILIGHT is 7.12pm so by the time the Centre opens at 6.30pm it will be very dark. The phase of the Moon is 1 day before FIRST QUARTER and FIRST QUARTER respectively. On the 17th it will already have set at 10.03am and on the 18th at 10.31am so will not be visible througout the evening.

To see the sky chart for the 17th and 18th February 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 sky will remain very dark making it easier to see the deeper sky objects. A favourite at this time of the year is the ORION NEBULA which is still prominent and beautiful to look at. 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.

Venus is still extremely bright at MAGNITUDE -4.6 which is the brightest it will be all year. It will be setting just after 9pm making it visible through the historic telescopes in the early part of the evening before it sinks too low on the western horizon.

Mars will also be visible relatively close to Venus but at MAGNITUDE 1.2 it is well past its best and getting progressively dimmer. However, you should still be able to see it. It is rather reddish in colour but sets at about 9.30pm so will only be visible in the early part of the evening.

Uranus should also be visible in the early part of the evening too. It is in the constellation of Pisces and does not set until about 10pm. At a MAGNITUDE of 5.9 you should technically be able to see it with the unaided eye. However, it needs to be extremely dark, extremely clear, the seeing conditions need to be very still and you also need extremely good eyesight so the chances of seeing it without a telescope are pretty slim! It is a long way away so don't be disappointed if you see it as a very small object. Look again it is a definite disc and don't forget, the reason why you see it is because it is reflecting the Sun's light and the Sun is an average 1,784 million miles from Uranus.

Jupiter actually rises as Uranus sets just after 10pm but it will be too low on the horizon to see it through the historic telescopes tonight and you will have to wait until the year progresses to get a good view before 11pm. However, the smaller scopes of the amateur astronomers may be able to locate the planet just before the Centre closes 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).

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 25th February 2017
Time: 6.30pm - 11pm

The South Downs National Park were designated a Dark Sky Reserve in 2016. To celebrate they are holding a festival during 11-26 February. Events are happening throughout the region and as such we are running Open Evenings to help them celebrate.

The Sun will have already set at 5.34pm and the end of ASTRONOMICAL TWILIGHT is 7.25pm so by the time the Centre opens at 6.30pm it will be very dark. The phase of the Moon is 1 day before NEW MOON so will not be visible througout the evening.

To see the sky chart for the 25th February 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 sky will remain very dark making it easier to see the deeper sky objects. A favourite at this time of the year is the ORION NEBULA which is still prominent and beautiful to look at. 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.

Venus is still extremely bright at MAGNITUDE -4.6 which is the brightest it will be all year. It will be setting just after 9pm making it visible through the historic telescopes in the early part of the evening before it sinks too low on the western horizon.

Mars will also be visible relatively close to Venus but at MAGNITUDE 1.2 it is well past its best and getting progressively dimmer. However, you should still be able to see it. It is rather reddish in colour but sets at about 9.30pm so will only be visible in the early part of the evening.

Uranus should also be visible in the early part of the evening too. It is in the constellation of Pisces and does not set until about 9.45pm. At a MAGNITUDE of 5.9 you should technically be able to see it with the unaided eye. However, it needs to be extremely dark, extremely clear, the seeing conditions need to be very still and you also need extremely good eyesight so the chances of seeing it without a telescope are pretty slim! It is a long way away so don't be disappointed if you see it as a very small object. Look again it is a definite disc and don't forget, the reason why you see it is because it is reflecting the Sun's light and the Sun is an average 1,784 million miles from Uranus.

Jupiter actually rises as Uranus sets but it will be too low on the horizon to see it through the historic telescopes tonight and you will have to wait until the year progresses to get a good view before 11pm. However, the smaller scopes of the amateur astronomers may be able to locate the planet just before the Centre closes 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).

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 4th March 2017
Time: 6.30pm - 11pm

The Sun will have already set at 5.46pm and the end of ASTRONOMICAL TWILIGHT is 7.38pm so by the time the Centre opens at 6.30pm it will be very dark. The phase of the Moon is 1 day before FIRST QUARTER so will be visible througout the evening. It is magnificent to look at especially at this phase due to the contrast between the illuminated side and the non illuminated side - the TERMINATOR. You should be able to see craters, mountains and the flat dark areas called MARIA or seas.

To see the sky chart for the 4th 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.

Even with the glow of the Moon deeper sky objects will still be seen. A favourite at this time of the year is the ORION NEBULA which is still prominent and beautiful to look at. 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.

Venus is still extremely bright at MAGNITUDE -4.5 and although it will be setting just before 9pm it will still be visible through the historic telescopes in the early part of the evening before it sinks too low on the western horizon.

Mars will also be visible relatively close to Venus but at MAGNITUDE 1.3 it is well past its best and getting progressively dimmer. However, you should still be able to see it. It is rather reddish in colour but sets at about 9.30pm so will only be visible in the early part of the evening.

Uranus may also be visible in the early part of the evening too. It is in the constellation of Pisces and does not set until about 9pm. At a MAGNITUDE of 5.9 you should technically be able to see it with the unaided eye. However, it needs to be extremely dark, extremely clear, the seeing conditions need to be very still and you also need extremely good eyesight so the chances of seeing it without a telescope are pretty slim! It is a long way away so don't be disappointed if you see it as a very small object. Look again it is a definite disc and don't forget, the reason why you see it is because it is reflecting the Sun's light and the Sun is an average 1,784 million miles from Uranus.

Jupiter actually rises as Uranus sets but it will probably be too low on the horizon to see it through the historic telescopes and you will have to wait until the year progresses to get a good view before 11pm. However, the smaller scopes of the amateur astronomers may be able to locate the planet just before the Centre closes 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).

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.
OPEN EVENING 25th February
On Saturday the 25th February The Centre will re-open again for the evening at 6.30pm but this one is FOR ADULTS ONLY. This Open Evening is also being held to help celebrate the designation of the South Downs National Park as an International Dark Sky Reserve. Come and explore the Centre at night - it is a different atmosphere entirely and with no Moon it will truly be a dark site! All the indoor hands-on interactive exhibits will be available and without any children present there will be a great chance to get in touch with your inner child and really explore. If the weather is good there is the added bonus of being able to look through some of the country's largest telescopes at some fabulous night sky objects including Venus, Mars and the Orion Nebula. 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 show 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 25th February). Alongside the historic telescopes there will be the smaller telescopes of local amateur astronomers.
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