February Skylights

If you haven't yet spotted Mercury it may still be glimpsed during the first week in Feb low in the SSW evening twilight sky. Look for this elusive world 45 minutes after sunset no more than a fist height at arm's length above the horizon. By the 8th Mercury will lost in glare once again. [Read more about February Skylights ]

New Year Meteors

Quadrantids Meteor Shower.  Picture from Astronomy Magazine website.With a New moon on the 1st, you may spot a few shooting stars early in the New Year; especially on the evening of the 3rd, when the Quadrantids meteor shower peaks. [Read more about New Year Meteors ]

Mercury rushes up into the evening twilight sky from mid January until the first week of February [Read more about January 2014 Planetary Skylights ]

The Winter Solstice

The Sun reaches its lowest position in the sky on December 21st this year - the date of the winter solstice, when the Sun arcs just over 12 degrees above S horizon at local noon. The northern hemisphere is then tilted away from the Sun and useful daylight amounts to just 7½ hrs: the shortest day. [Read more about The Winter Solstice]

Considered now to be the most prolific annual meteor shower, the Geminids are active from December 7-16, reaching a peak this year in the early morning hours of December 14th. Unlike other showers, Geminids stem from debris shed by a small asteroid called Phaethon, which passes within 10 million miles of the Sun. [Read more about Meteor Activity - December 2013]

Comet Ison

At the time of the December newsletter, Comet ISON may already a news worthy item - or not. Comet ISON reached perihelion on Nov 28th when it slung shot around our Sun - just 750,000 miles above its surface at an astonishing 845,000 miles per hour. If the comet has not totally fragmented it may be a spectacular sight during the first week of December - or at least the tail of it will be, either just after sunset over in the SW, quite close to Venus, and also just before sunrise over in the SE and near Saturn.    [Read more about Comet Ison ]

New Website

We announced in our December Newsletter that the Society's new and improved web site should be available to peruse by the time our December notes reach you, and here it is!  Andi Ye and his team have done a sterling job building the new site, which has many new features.

There will be regular new content on all sorts of subjects, so bookmark the site in your browser, and keep coming back!  And it's not just a one-way information feed: you're welcome to add your comments to any article and start a discussion.  You can post anonymously or - better yet - create yourself an account and enjoy full site access. [Read more about New Website]

Venus dominates the SW evening twilight sky - visible low above the horizon for an hour or so. As the month progresses Venus gains a little in altitude and grows even brighter attaining -4.5 by Christmas. The moon lies above right on the 5th. [Read more about Planetary Skylights - December 2013 ]

The Leonids are active from Nov 15-20 and will peak this year during the very late evening of Nov 17, which means the early morning of the 18th will be the optimum time to view. Rates are expected to be normal, ie around 15-25 per hour.

Keep an eye out for a few meteors on the night of Nov 4/5th when the South Taurid meteor shower reaches a peak, and then again on the night of Nov 11/12 when the North Taurid meteor shower peaks. Hourly rates for both showers are not more than half a dozen; however Taurids can be bright and produce the occasional spectacular fireball. [Read more about Meteor Activity - November 2013]

Comet ISON

Initially dubbed as being the "comet of the century" after its discovery in September of 2012, and then almost being written off as ISON failed to brighten as predicted (no surprise there then) It now appears ISON may be worth watching for after all. [Read more about Comet ISON]