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Autumn Astronomy: Full Series
October 31, 2020 @ 11:00 am - November 28, 2020 @ 12:00 pm£15.00
A short course in astronomy by Dr. Adrian Jannetta covering basic concepts, practical experience, and the latest developments in a rapidly changing field. The full course costs £15, or you can book individual lectures for £4 each on a separate Eventbrite listing available here.
During this 5-week run, you’ll learn how to find the planets, recognise bright stars and constellations and learn how to use a telescope. As usual we’ll discuss current events. Autumn is a great time to see the Milky Way. This year sees the best appearance of Mars in UK skies until the mid-2030s. These sessions have advice for observing and photographing these and other special events. As usual each week will have an outline of interesting things to look for in the night sky for the week ahead.
Week 1 – The Red Planet
The planet Mars will be shining brightly in the night sky this autumn. In this session we’ll review how our perception of the planet has changed over time; Mars was once thought to be Earth-like and home to a dying civilization. Spacecraft showed it to be a seemingly dead planet with no possibility of life. However, the discovery that water persists on the surface opens up the possibility that some kind microbial life endures too. Opportunities to view Mars at close range with a telescope occur every 15-17 years so we’ll have advice on how to make the most of the current chance!
Week 2 – The Milky Way
The autumn months provide some of the best views of the Milky Way for observers in the UK. In this session we’ll explore how we came to know we live among an island of stars, and of the various components of our home Galaxy. Advice for photographing and observing the Milky Way will be discussed.
Week 3 – Comets and meteors
Comet NEOWISE put on a show for observers across the northern hemisphere over the summer. But further back in time brighter comets have grabbed headlines and earned the moniker “Great Comet”. In this session we’ll try to answer the question “What makes a Great Comet?” And why do some comets seem destined for greatness but fizzle out before they have a chance to shine! Comets are the cause of shooting stars (meteors) and as we approach winter – there are some great chances to witness meteors showers in the months ahead.
Week 4 – Practical astronomy
Telescopes, binoculars and how to stay up to date with what’s happening in the sky. Whether you’re thinking about buying a telescope or just want to know what’s in the sky tonight – this session has you covered! The pros and cons of different telescopes and mounts. What software or apps are available?
Week 5 – Celestial alignments
Historically, planetary alignments were important to astrologers and their predictions. These days, it is astronomers who learn a lot when objects align in the night sky. We’ll also learn about different types of solar and lunar eclipses. How often do they occur? Where can they be seen? Transits of Mercury and Venus in front of the Sun and how we now study planets orbiting distant stars using transits. We’ll review planetary alignments and conjunctions in readiness for a rare Jupiter-Saturn alignment in December.
Lectures will be delivered via Zoom. If you haven’t used Zoom before, please go to www.zoom.us and look at the tutorials. Once you have booked, you will receive a confirmatory email from Eventbrite, including a link to the Zoom invitation. If you can’t find the invitation, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.