Message from Karen Smith at Little Ness, Vice Chair of the Shropshire Astronomical Society.
As you know we have had to stop our observing sessions at Little Ness for the time being, but everyone can still go stargazing. You don't need a telescope or any fancy kit for this, just a dark clear sky. Go outside after sunset and give your eyes 10 minutes to adjust to the dark, then look up ~ that simple. But what am I looking at I hear you ask and I'm glad you did! You can find out using a sky chart. Here is a link to a great one
There are also various free apps you can download onto your phone or tablet and if your device has a compass built into it, you can point the device at the sky and it will tell you what you can see. Look for a mobile stellarium or a sky map.
With a good pair of binoculars you can see the surface of the moon and again, there's an app for that. Look for a moon map or moon atlas, and you'll be able to identify landing sites and craters.
If it's technology you are into you can go out satellite spotting. There are way more up there than you think! Apps can tell you when and where to look for the famous ones such as the International Space Station, but there are many others up there. You can tell it's a satellite and not a plane because it will usually be smaller because it's higher and it won't have any flashing lights. The light you see is the reflection of the sun on it so once it's out of range of the suns rays it'll seem to disappear. The Space Station will be going over us tonight at about 9.10pm. There's a tradition in the Astronomical Society that when we see the Space Station go over, we wave to the astronauts, so give them a wave if you spot them. You can track the space station here.
The new kid on the block as far as satellites is concerned is Starlink. This will look like a line of bright lights moving across the sky. I've not managed to see it yet, but I keep trying. You can track Starlink here.
If this has piqued your interest in all things space you can go to our website and find lots of free links to other sites which might be of interest.
If you have any questions we are still available by email and social media. We are looking forward to getting back to normal and observing with you at Little Ness village Hall.
Very warm wishes,
Vice Chair of Shropshire Astronomical Society