Thursday, January 1, 2009

Starry Splendour over Prince Albert

- Hans Daehne -

The International Year of Astronomy (IYA2009) started with a partial solar eclipse on the 26th of January and the rest of 2009 will have many more observational highlights like the lunar eclipses in August and December.

To make the most of the IYA2009 the astronomical fraternity world-wide has decided to offer as many persons as possible a Galilean experience by letting them look through a telescope at the wonders of our universe. This will also be the case in Prince Albert when Astro Tours together with the Starfriends of Prince Albert will hold open viewing evenings at suitable venues. More information to follow.

The aim is to let Prince Alberters acquire a basic knowledge of and appreciation for the starry splendour above their heads, as the motto of the IYA says: The Universe – yours to discover.
Venus, the bright “Evening Star” at the moment, will become really bright (mag. - 4.5 ) after sunset in February and should be observed with dedication as she will disappear from the evening sky in March to become the “ Morning Star”.

Mars and Jupiter are already morning objects and the latter is also getting brighter as the months go by.

Saturn, in retrograde movement in the tail area of Leo, is on its way to its opposition to the Sun in March, and is visible with increasing brightness after sunset for the whole night in February.

Full Moon is on the 9th and New Moon on the 25th of February. The Full Moon will work its appearance more and more to the beginning of the month until in December there will be room for two Full Moons in one month ( 2nd and 31st ) with a partial lunar eclipse during “ Blue Moon” - a really “once in a blue moon” occurrence.

Orion with the “maternity ward”, the Seven Sisters, the red giants Aldebaran and Betelgeuse, the Magellanic clouds and the Southern Cross are still splendid sights. In February they will be joined by the largest globular cluster, Omega Centauri, and the most colourful open cluster, the Jewel Box.

Keep the stars in your eyes!

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