Starry Skies for the First Public Stargazing Event of 2015/16

Milky Way over Dalby - 2nd October 2015.  Image Credit: Mark Tissington

Milky Way over Dalby – 2nd October 2015. Image Credit: Mark Tissington

The first public stargazing event of 2015/16 took place on Friday 2nd October under the dark skies of Dalby Forest.  Starry skies although with some high cloud did not disappoint around 60 members of the public.

Visitors were able to see many deep sky delights including the Andromeda Galaxy, the Double Cluster in Perseus, the Dumbell Nebula in Vulpecula and double stars including Albireo.

Visitors were also able to see some basic astrophotography with a DSLR camera attached to a telescope taking shots of some of the deep sky objects.

Annotated MilkyWay over Dalby.  Image Credit: Mark Tissington

Annotated MilkyWay over Dalby. Image Credit: Mark Tissington

The next public observing in Dalby Forest takes place on Friday 6th November.  For more information on this or other events, please visit our event calendar.

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Autumnal Equinox – 23rd September 2015

Earth lighting equinox

Illumination of the Earth during an equinox. Image Credit:

08:22 UTC (09:22 BST) sees the Southward equinox.  For ourselves in the Northern Hemisphere, it is known as the Autumnal equinox and the Vernal or Spring equinox for residents in the Southern Hemisphere. The Sun falls on the Celestial Equator during the Autumnal equinox resulting in equal lengths of day and night across the planet.  From today on-wards  as the name suggests, the Sun is seen to be moving southwards, resulting in shorter days and longer nights for us.

celestial sphere

The Celestial Sphere. Image credit:

The point on the Celestial Equator where the Sun lies during the Vernal equinox is known as the First Point of Aries.  However, due to precession (the continued change in the rotation of the planet on its axis), the Sun is no longer in the constellation of Aries and has not been since around 100 BC.  At the moment, the Sun is in the constellation of Pisces and by the year 2600 it will be in the neighbouring constellation of Aquarius.

As the Sun rises at an equinox, the Sun will appear to cross the horizon due east and recrosses the horizon at Sunset due west.  Over the next 3 months leading up to the Winter or December Solstice, the Sun will appear to rise and set further to the south of these points as it appears to follow the path of the ecliptic.  It will then move back north approaching the northward equinox in March when the Sun will again rise and set due east and west respectively.

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Event Confusion Clarification

Following some confusion over a recent public stargazing night in Scarborough, held to observe the planet Saturn, we would like to clarify the situation with the following:

All events organised and run by Scarborough and Ryedale Astronomical Society are listed on our website, events calendar and on our social media pages (links below). Any cancellation of our events is also advertised through these means.


Events Calendar:



Please note additional astronomy events in this area may be run and promoted by other individuals or groups. This Society does not take responsibility for events it does not run. Any enquiries or comments about such events must be directed to the individual organiser.

John Harper organises occasional informal public observing sessions in Scarborough. John promotes these events through his own website and other media such as local radio. John is honorary president of this Society in recognition of his efforts in promoting astronomy to the public in this area over many years. However both he and the Society wish to stress that his events are completely independent of this Society. The status of John’s events and his contact details can be found on his website ( Anyone planning to attend one of these events must check there before setting out, to avoid disappointment in the event of a late cancellation. The Society website and other media will not carry details of these events.

Kind regards and clear skies,

SARAS Committee

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Website and Forum Maintenance Scheduled – Sunday 31st May 2015

TMaintenencehe Website and Forum software will be undergoing maintenance on Sunday 31st May 2015 and may be unavailable during certain periods that day.

Apologies in advance for any inconvenience this may cause.

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Preparing for the Solar Eclipse

Eclipse data for Leeds, UK.

Eclipse data for Leeds, UK.

With less than a month to go until the much anticipated partial Solar Eclipse, visible throughout the UK, we would advise you to start turning your attention towards how you will safely observe this rare event.  A useful guide has been produced by the Society for Popular Astronomy.  The guide can be downloaded as a PDF here.

By far the easiest and cheapest way to safely observe the Sun during the Eclipse is to purchase a set of approved Solar Eclipse glasses.  With the glasses protecting your eyes, you will be able to look at the Sun safely throughout the Eclipse.  Glasses can typically cost around £1.50-£2.00 a pair but can be used again and again (although care should always be taken to check the glasses for damage prior to use).

The Eclipse will  be 90.3% at maximum from our location, and an Eclipse of this magnitude will not be visible again from here until 2026.  To avoid disappointment at missing this spectacular event, we advise you to purchase your Eclipse glasses now as they will be in high demand across the UK.  Our closest and preferred retailer is Grovers of Northallerton, who are selling Baader Solar Eclipse glasses for £1.95 a pair.  Other astronomical retailers are selling similar items.  The British Astronomical Association is also selling an alternative type of Solar viewer from £1 (depending on quantity).  If you are a regular BBC Sky at Night Magazine reader then you will find a free pair of Solar Eclipse glasses on the front cover of the March edition.

Society members should contact Secretary Andy Exton for more information about how the society plans to observe the Eclipse and what equipment is available for use.

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