The Sun will not be setting until 8.35pm but ASTRONOMICAL TWILIGHT will not end until 11.07pm so technically it will not get completely dark until then.
The gates open at 8pm and on this evening we are hoping to spot a few shooting stars associated with the Perseids METEOR SHOWER. This meteor shower occurs as Earth passes through the outskirts of a cloud of debris from comet Swift-Tuttle. The dust and bits of rock left behind are called meteors. As they enter the Earth's atmosphere they "burn up" with the larger pieces producing bright streams that you can see with the naked eye before they fade away. These bright streams are also known as shooting stars and can be seen from 17th July until 24th August. The maximum is on the evening of the 13th August when there are approximately 60-80 shooting stars per hour. However, you will see some before the 13th August but not as many.
The phase of the Moon is 2 days after FIRST QUARTER and will already have risen at 4.07pm so will be visible for most of the evening, setting just after midnight.
To see the sky chart for the 9th August 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 this date.
If the skies are clear you will definitely be able to see magnificent Jupiter which will already have risen before the Centre opens at 8pm. By the time the sky is dark enough Jupiter will be high enough to see it through the telescopes even though this year it remains relatively low with a maximum elevation of 16 degrees above the horizon. It is in the CONSTELLATION of Ophiuchus and at MAGNITUDE -2.4, it is very bright. It reached OPPOSITION on the 10th June. The four largest moons should be visible with Ganymede, Callisto and Io in that order on the west with Io closest to Jupiter. Europa will be on its own on the eastern side. The GREAT RED SPOT will unfortunately not be visible during the evening.
Another magnificent planet will also be visible; Saturn! Saturn will also already have risen before the Centre opens so will be high enough in the sky to view later on in the evening when it is dark enough. Its fantastic RING SYSTEM will be clearly visible making it one of the most spectacular sights in the night sky. The rings are tilted towards us by about 24 degrees making them very easy to see. Saturn is at MAGNITUDE 0.2 so not as bright as Jupiter. It is in the CONSTELLATION of Sagittarius and reached OPPOSITION on the 9th July.
Other objects to look out for will be the magnificent GLOBULAR CLUSTER M13 in the CONSTELLATION Hercules. The cluster 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. Some DOUBLE STARS will be visible including the beautiful gold and blue stars of Albireo in the CONSTELLATION of Cygnus and then there is the beautiful RING NEBULA (M57) in the CONSTELLATION of Lyra. The prefix M means they are a MESSIER object.
Smaller telescopes of our STEM Ambassador volunteers will also be available on the lawns. They have a wealth of information between them and some very nice telescopes.
Open Evenings for the Astronomy Festival Weekend
Open 6.30pm - 11pm
Join us for a fabulous weekend; our biggest fundraising event of the year. By just coming to visit you are supporting this unique charity and helping to keep the domes and telescopes in working order.
The Sun will be setting at around 7.50pm each evening so it will still be light when the Centre re-opens at 6.30pm. ASTRONOMICAL TWILIGHT ends at around 9.55pm so technically it will not get completely dark until then but it will be dark enough to see some fascinating night sky objects.
The phases of the Moon are NEW MOON on the Friday, so not visible at all and a very thin crescent for less than one hour after sunset on the Saturday. So while there is no Moon to view it will be very dark making it easier to spot other deeper sky objects.
To see the sky chart for these dates 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 festival open evenings.
Jupiter and Saturn will already have risen before sunset so will be visible even though they are quite low in the sky. Jupiter will be setting at 11.17pm so it will be best viewed early on in the evening through the historic telescopes. However you still should get a glimpse through the smaller telescopes of the Astronomy Societies and STEM Ambassadors before it disappears behind the trees. It was at OPPOSITION on June 10th so the closest it came to Earth this year. It is now getting further away from Earth so not as bright. However, it is still at MAGNITUDE -2.3 so still very bright. It is in the CONSTELLATION of Ophiucus. The GREAT RED SPOT on Jupiter will be passing the Centre of the planet on Friday evening just as The Centre opens at 6.30pm so by the time it gets dark enough it will unfortunately not be visible. It does not cross the centre of the planet during the times The Centre is open on Saturday. The four largest Moons (the Galilean Moons) will definitely be visible over the 2 evenings. On Friday Callisto, Ganymede and Io will be on the western side of the planet and Europa will be on the east. On Saturday Callisto and Ganymede will be relatively close together on the west with Io and Europa on the east. Io and Europa will in fact cross over each other during the evening.
Saturn will not be setting until after 1am so should be visible all evening. The RINGS are still pretty open and tilted towards Earth by about 24 degrees which makes the system nice and bright. At MAGNITUDE 0.3 it is nowhere near as bright as Jupiter but you will still be able to see the RINGS. Saturn is in the CONSTELLATION Sagittarius and reached OPPOSITION on the 9th July.
The CONSTELLATION Hercules is still in the night sky and you may see it early on before it disappears behind the trees. This means you can see the magnificent GLOBULAR CLUSTER M13. 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 and is a fabulous object to look at. The summer triangle of stars is still high in the sky at this time of year. The 3 stars Deneb in the constellation Cygnus, Vega in Lyra and Altair in Aquila make up the triangle meaning that the magnificent double star Albireo in Cygnus the swan will be visible; one is gold and one is blue. The RING NEBULA (M57) in Lyra is also worth a look; it is a beautiful planetary nebula. The prefix M means they are MESSIER objects.
There will be smaller telescopes of our STEM Ambassador volunteers and members of local Astronomy Societies on the lawns and they welcome you to take a look at the many night sky objects.
WE ARE OPEN
24th / 25th / 26th August 2019: 10 am - 6 pm. Last admission 4 pm
Daily telescope tours and science shows
Spectacular Science whatever the weather!