Scruton Sky at Night
by Peter Williams
Skies are gradually getting darker, and a New Moon on 7 September means there will be a better opportunity to view the sky since there will be no moonlight to interfere.
The night skies are still very light, making celestial viewing difficult. But with the passing of the Summer Solstice in June we will be gradually getting shorter days and hence darker nights.
The main event in June should not cause a problem, and this is the partial solar eclipse on 10 June. This will be the largest eclipse in the UK for the last 6 years
After spending the winter months of 2020-21 as a ‘Morning Star’, Venus will emerge into the post-sunset western sky as an ‘Evening Star’ from April.
The skies are gradually getting lighter in the evening with the Spring Equinox on 20 March – equal day and night, and the change to BST on 28 March when the clocks go forward one hour.
The night skies are fairly ‘quiet’ this month with a full Moon on the 27th. There is, however, a close encounter on the evening of the 18th between the crescent Moon and, just above it, the planet Mars.
At 7 am on 12 December the thin waning crescent Moon will be low in the SE, with Venus to the lower left. This should be a spectacle as the Earth will be illuminating the night hemisphere of the Moon.
Darker skies mean better viewing in November. From the 5th onward, the constellation Orion is visible, low at first in the ESE sky but rising higher, ending November fairly high in the SE.
The planet Mars is very well placed for most of the month, high up in the evening sky to the south around midnight.
Darkening nights now make for better viewing of the evening skies and it is interesting to note that there are proposals to designate parts of the Yorkshire Dales as a Dark Sky Reserve.