|Tarbert 27th Jan|
Firstly, apologies for the delay, we have missed the Quadrantids at the start of January.
If you follow the facebook page you’ll know that I’ve been getting excited about the beautiful mornings line up that we have been spoilt with (in between crazy weather).
If you are a morning person and are blessed with clear skies, look out before/during sunrise to the SE, S, SW and West from the horizon up, Mercury, Venus, Saturn Mars and Jupiter have been visible, unfortunately the weather was not on our side most mornings, but I managed to see them a few times.
Around the Spring Equinox we now have a fireball season, unpredictable but a regular occurrence so keep your eyes peeled in the weeks just before and after the 20th March!
Towards the end of April is the Lyrid Meteor Shower, from around the 16th to the 25th April, with a bright moon though we may not be able to see as many as usual, look NE after around 10pm.
The Lyrids quite often leave trails and has surges of around 100 meteors an hour, so it’s well worth looking out for.
|Stargazing For Beginners|
Between May the 5th-7th, if you are an early bird and up before the crack of dawn, look out for the Eta Aquarids, again, we are possibly too far North to see many.
August brings us the Perseids, probably one of the best/easiest meteor showers to view on a clear night.
The nights are warmer too, so it’s a perfect introduction for younger members of the family.
It builds up through August and peaks around the 10th to 13th.
They radiate from the constellation Perseus, however, you don’t need to be an expert on constellations, just allow your eyes to adjust to the dark and gaze into the sky, before long you will spot any movement.
Perseids can often give a spectacular display, so if the weather is on your side make the most of it!
October gives us the Draconids in Draco, the Dragon Constellation, it has the potential to be another spectacular show!
The Draconids is another meteor shower that is best watched early evening, making it another one ideal to look out for if you have young children.
The Draconid showers radiant point stands highest in the sky as darkness falls, so unlike many meteor showers, more Draconids are likely to fly in the evening hours than in the morning hours after midnight.
This shower is usually a sleeper, producing only a handful of meteors per hour most years. But watch out if the Dragon awakes! Draco has been known to show many hundreds of meteors in a single hour!
Around the 21st to 22nd October is the Orionids, another one for early risers as you are most likely to see these just before dawn.
However, often you can see meteors various times of the night, if you are out and about it is always worth taking some time to just look up, you could be surprised!
The Taurid Meteor showers last a long time, but I have just put their peak dates on our Public Calendar.
The South Taurids spread out from the 25th September right through to the 25th November, so you could see them anytime, but the peak for the South taurids is the 4th to the 5th November.
The North Taurids spread out from around October the 12th to December the 2nd, but the peak time for viewing these is between the 11th and 12th November.
The Taurids radiate from Taurus, the bull and are best seen around midnight when Taurus is high in the sky.
In November, the Leonids peak around the 17th November, the best time to see them is just before dawn, although they are often seen during the evenings and late night.
The Leonid meteor shower happens every year at this time, as our world crosses the orbital path of Comet Tempel-Tuttle.
Tempel-Tuttle litters its orbit with bits of debris. It’s when this cometary debris enters Earth’s atmosphere, and vaporizes, that we see the Leonid meteor shower.
Around the 13th December, the Geminid meteor shower peaks.
The best time to see this is around 2am, although you are likely to see many before then.
This year though the full Moon may prevent us seeing as many as usual, but it is still well worth staying up for!
You don’t need expensive equipment to enjoy these stunning displays, the meteors are easily visible with the naked eye, and some can be spectacular!
You just need some patience, dark clear skies and to wrap up warm!
For the ultimate luxury, spoil yourself to a luxury camp bed and lay back, relax and enjoy the display!
If you want to meet other astronomers and learn more about all our dark skies have to offer here on the West Coast, take a look at West Kintyre Stargazers who organise group talks, events and advice.