- The year’s major meteor showers are the Perseids (13 August), Orionids (21 October), Leonids (18 November) and Geminids (14 December). Remember shooting stars can be seen in the days before and after and the dates given are for maximum activity.
- Jupiter will be at its best and visible low in the south on 10 June. On this night the giant planet will be at its closest approach to Earth and much brighter than any star. A pair of binoculars will reveal its four largest moons, appearing as bright dots either side of the planet. This fine object is very low at the moment for UK observers and the view will improve over the next decade.
- The magnificent ringed planet – Saturn – is at its best on 9 July. Looking like a bright yellow star, a small telescope will reveal its lovely rings. The planet remains quite low down, which is not ideal for observing. But don’t let that put you off – seeing this marvellous object should be on everyone’s bucket list.
- Watch out for ghostly noctilucent clouds on the northern horizon from late May until early August. Electric blue and stunningly beautiful they are the highest clouds that can form in the earth’s atmosphere and really do glow in the dark. Last year was a vintage one thanks to the long hot summer.
- A rare transit of Mercury across the face of the Sun is visible from the UK on 11 November. The planet will be seen as a black disc moving across the sun. The event starts soon after noon and to observe it you will need a telescope fitted with a special solar filter. Looking at the sun without such a protective filter will cause permanent eye damage! This video shows you some of the ways you can stay safe and enjoy the spectacle – https://vimeo.com/161001352
- The North Pennines AONB takes centrestage with its fantastic dark sky festival in late October. It features scores of amazing public events. Also keep eyes peeled on beautiful Cranborne Chase AONB, which straddle Wiltshire, Dorset, Somerset and Hampshire. It’s close to submitting an application to become an international dark sky reserve.
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