Virtual Astronomy Club – Katrin’s Stamp Talk

Katrin Raynor-Evans’ talk “Exploring Astronomy and Space Through Philately” is now available to view on YouTube.

All of our past sessions that have been recorded are available for viewing on my YouTube Channel:

They are also listed at the bottom of the Virtual Astronomy Club Web site:

Virtual Astronomy Club – Subscribe to Alerts

I have now set up an Automated E Mail system for The Virtual Astronomy Club.

So if you would like to be alerted with an E Mail before each Virtual Astronomy Club event, sign up for an alert E Mail using the form below.

See you online very soon.

Keep Safe.
Keep Well.
Keep Looking Up.




THE ASIAIR PRO – First Impressions

I have been fortunate in having an ASIAIR PRO very nicely sent out to me by First Light Optics.

It will give me a chance to have a play and review it for you.

First impressions are on the few clear nights I have had to test it out, is that it will be a game-changer in what I can offer, especially online educational streaming.

I have  uploaded my first impressions review on YouTube.

I’ll do a more more detailed review and run-through to follow, when we do get a clear night.

Comet C/2021 A1 (Leonard) could be good later this year.

Comet C/2021 A1 (Leonard) is causing some excitement as it HAS THE POTENTIAL be quite bright later this year.

What are we likely to see?

My YouTube video tells you all about what we currently know about Comet C/2021 A1 (Leonard).

Where it can be found throughout the year and what we likely to expect to see in November and December, when it COULD become bright enough to be a naked eye comet.

The full Sky Diary listing lots more sky events can be accessed from my Web site:

Sky Diary for November 2020

My monthly look up at the night sky showing events for the month of November 2020.

Highlighting 5 outer planets visible the month, plus two potential comets (maybe!?) including C/2020 M3 (ATLAS), plus spotting the elusive lunar impact region of Mare Orientale at its best.

My electronic TeamUp calendar sky diary is available online at:
Download the app and install the sky diary to take it around with you.

Join us at The Virtual Astronomy Club on the 1st and 3rd of the month at 7pm.
Details on how to join in the astronomy fun is on the VAC Web page:

Keep Safe.
Keep Well
Keep Looking Up.

October’s Mars Opposition and Comet C/2020 P1.

Don’t forget, as well as this months Mars opposition, we also have Comet C/2020 P1 (NEOWISE) coming north.

It will be visible in the morning sky from mid-month until mid November.

If you like my videos, please like them and subscribe to my YouTube Channel

Thank You.

View my YouTube Comet C/2020 P1 (NEOWISE) video here:

View my Sky Diary for October here:

The core of Comet NEOWISE

Although it is starting to fade now, Comet C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE) is continuing to give us a great display.

If you haven’t seen it yet, here’s my latest YouTube video on finding the comet:

So as long as you are looking in the right direction, you should not miss it.

Before it got properly dark last night, I stepped out into the garden and was amazed to see that the comet is now so far north, that it was visible from my usual viewing spot by my shed. So it was a mad scramble to get out the mount, quickly polar align and take a few DSLR images of the coma through the scopes. I tried the C11 and the Mak-Newt. The Mac-Newt gave better images, due to it’s wider field of view and brighter image.

By the time I finished that, the comet was just about to disappear behind the neighbours roof.

So it was time to dash out to my darker site to capture more details in the dust and ion tails.
This comet has been depriving me of sleep, conditions were fairly appalling, and the surrounding towns were throwing loads of light up into the sky.
So I only did a quick imaging run before finishing by 12:30am before returning home to try and catch up on some much needed sleep.

Both images taken using a Nikon D750 DSLR.
First image of the core taken through my 190 Mak-Newt. Second image using my 72mm refractor.



Comet C/2020 (NEOWISE) – 17th July 2020

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last few weeks, you probably realise that there is a spectacular comet on display at the moment.
It’s Comet C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE).

It’s so far north that it is visible from the UK throughout the night.
As the evening gets dark, the comet can be seen in the north-north-west, fairly low down, but a very easy naked eye object.

Here’s my latest YouTube video on finding the comet:

So as long as you are looking in the right direction, you should not miss it.

The comet is currently in the lower part of the constellation of Ursa Major, The Great Bear just by the front paws.

On the 17th of July, it clouded over in the northern sky just before the sky started to darken. Typical!
So instead of staying close to home, I packed everything into the car and ventured out south to hopefully get a view of it and bag some more images.

Only 7 miles from home, I found myself parked up at the side of a country road within the North Bedfordshire villages area with a clear view towards the north.

The comet was now well above the low clouds, so I very quickly setup the two driven mounts, doing a very rough and ready polar alignment on each one. The sky still wan’t totally dark, but I I started capturing subs.

As the sky darkened the extent of the dust tail could be seen. It was so long.
One the sky was totally dark, I could follow it for at least 8 or 9 degrees, using averted vision.

It was a fine sight through binoculars, the pseudo-nucleus appearing star-like and the tail visible across the whole field of view and just outside, so probably about 6 degrees or so. Funny that the naked eye could see a lot more.

There were still some interfering clouds, but I started rattling off shot after shot.
The main driven mount was carrying a 72mm refractor with my Nikon D750 full-frame DSLR capturing close shots to try and capture detail in the ion tail. This had shown some lovely red colouration a few days ago.

The second more flimsy driven mount had a Nikon D5100 DSLR with a variety of fixed and zoom lenses to capture wider fields of view to capture the complete extent of the dust and ion tails and some wide angle star fields around the comet.

The sky seemed to go very clear at one point, but there was always some thin cloud hovering around the comet, and scudding in front of the comet, making it a real challenge to capture really clean subs. But I persevered.

I was absolutely gob-smacked at how long the tail was coming out in my images.
This confirmed what I thought I could see with the naked eye.

I continued a variety of shots until by 1am the clouds finally won the battle.
I watched and imaged the ISS pass over and then packed up for the night.

Now hours of processing follow…

The animation at the bottom shows material moving along the ion tail.

This was created from 40 reasonably clear subs.
The subs were stacked in groups of 10 to create 4 individual images.

The four images were then put together into the animated GIF.






























Adding Comet NEOWISE to Stellarium

If you are like me Stellarium is a fantastic planetarium program for showing people the sky and planning what you might be able to see.

My YouTube guide to finding the comet is here:

This guide is also available to view on YouTube.

Many of the maps I use in my guides are drawn using Stellarium.

But have you tried to find Comet C/2020 F3 NEOWISE using the software?

Is it there? Possibly not.

If you can’t find the comet in the software, here’s my guide on how to add the comet.

First step is to make sure that you have the most up to date version of Stellarium installed.
It can be downloaded from here:

Once the software has been installed, open Stellarium.

On the bottom left of the program, hover your mouse and a menu pops out.


Click the Configuration button. (Or just press F2).

This opens the Configuration Window.

Click the Plug-Ins Tab.

Scroll down the left hand side menu.

Find and click Solar System Editor.


Make sure Load at Startup is ticked.

Click the Configure Button.

Click the Solar System Tab.


Click the Import orbital elements in MPC format… Button at the bottom of this window.

Click the Lists Tab.

Where it says Select the type, select Comets.

Select Download a list of objects from the Internet.

Underneath where it says Select a bookmark… click the drop down menu.

Select the first option Gideon van Buitenen; comets as shown above.

Click the Get orbital elements button.


In the search bar start typing in the comets name C/2020 F3.
It should appear in the search list in the bottom of the window.

Select the comet by putting in a tick mark with the mouse.

Click Add Objects.

Close all the menus.

The comet should now be displayed and will be searchable when running Stellarium as shown below.

You and Stellarium are now ready for Comet C/2020 F3 NEOWISE.

Have fun.







Comet C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE) Now Circumpolar

Comet C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE) is now circumpolar from the UK.

If you’d like to see some of my Comet images, visit my Flickr Comet Gallery.

Visit my recent blog update on the comet.
Comet C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE)

Selfie-C2020F3NEOWISE-20200712-Z75_5243-WebBeing circumpolar means that the comet is visible throughout the night as it never sets from our latitudes.

The comet starts to become visible in the North-north-western sky as the sky gets dark, easily visible to the naked eye.

The comet is sporting a very bright dust tail, but it has also developed a very nice ion tail.

Some images, including a couple of mine, showing not only the expected blue colour within it, but there is red as well.

The tail is now at least 8 degrees in length and the tail/s should get longer as our perspective changes as the comet passes Earth later this month.

The image below shows the progression of the comet across the sky.
It is moving away from the area close to Auriga.
The bright yellow star Capella and Beta Aurigae, visible lower left are your best guides to find the comet.

Once Capella is visible in the fading twilight, start hunting for the comet.

Move left to find the beta star, then extend the line outwards and slightly upwards to find the comet.
It should be at least 15 degrees above the horizon at this time.
At it’s lowest at around midnight, it is still 9 degrees above the northern horizon.

By dawn it is visible low down in the north-north-eastern sky, but be quick, the brightening dawn from 3:30am BST will drown out the comets glow.

At the time of writing (15th July) the comet is in the constellation of Lynx.
Unfortunately this constellation is small and fairly indistinct, so it doesn’t have any bright stars within it, so Capella and beta are still your best guides.

By the 19th of July, the comet has moved further north and will be located right by the forelimbs of Ursa Major, The Great Bear, very close to the third magnitude star Iota (Talitha).

As the comet is getting closer to Earth it should be looking a lot bigger. How bright it will be at this stage no-one knows. but being closer to Earth it should hold its brightness quite well. At this time the comet will still be in Ursa Major, located directly below familiar seven stars of The Plough.

The direction the tail is pointed would have turned slightly anti-clockwise and should also appear a lot longer as our perspective changes.


On the 23rd of July Comet NEOWISE will be at its closest to Earth when it will be 103m Km distant, ~40x the distance of The Moon.

Will the comet fragment and fade long before then? Or will it get brighter?

The only way to know for sure is to get yourself out at any possible opportunity and have a look at this magnificent object.

Sleep’s for wimps!!

It could be more than 25 years before we see another comet as bright as this.

If you’d like to see some of my Comet images, visit my Flickr Comet Gallery.

Visit my recent blog update on the comet.
Comet C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE)

See my NEOWISE Observing guide on YouTube.


Comet C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE) update

Comet C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE) is now putting on a great show.

The tail has now extended to about 5 degrees long and getting brighter.
It is now sporting a dust and ion tail.

See my previous Blog entry from the 6th of July.

I have now added a video to help show where you can find the comet and what we might expect from it!

Just get yourself out and have a look, (When the weather allows, of course) and you might even see some noctilucent cloud (NLC) activity into the bargain.

Have fun.

Comet C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE)

Comet C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE) is now visible from the UK.
Unlike Comet C/2019 Y4 (ATLAS) and C/2020 F8 (SWAN) which both failed to perform, this comet looks like it will make up for those and could be a real stunner.

A blog update and YouTube video showing how to find the comet and what we might see is here:

Spurred on by images folks across the world had posted online, I decided to make the effort to get up early and get out and see it.
I had to drive a little bit away from home at about quarter to 2, to get a low view towards the north-east, where I knew the comet would be located, below Capella in Auriga.

There was a consistent band of cloud just in the area the comet should have been. It looked like it was going to clear, so I persevered and waited.

I watched Venus rising a little bit towards the east, but the area around the location of the comet stayed consistently cloudy.
Behind me, The Moon, Jupiter and Saturn were very prominent. I was also surprised how high Mars was.
I really ought to get my self up earlier more and get out to do these planets one morning…

The sky was really starting to brighten by this time.
At about 10 past 3, it really looked like the clouds were not going to reveal the comet, so I threw my camera and binoculars into the car and headed where I thought I would get a clear view. After about 5 miles, I found a turn off with a clear view in the comets direction. A quick squint and I could easily see the comet with the naked eye, despite the brightening sky.
I scrambled to get the camera set up and focussed before rattling off a number of images.
This was a very nice looking comet, looking absolutely stunning in 10×50 binoculars and was well worth getting up for, before it started fading into dawns glow.

Here are a couple of the images I took.

The map below shows the path of the comet during July.
Click on the map for a bigger view.

Comet C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE) is currently below Capella in Auriga and visible low down in the north-eastern sky a little while before sunrise.

After about a week, it passes through Lynx and you should also be able to see it low in the north-western sky just after sunset, so we should have two opportunities to see it each day.
By mid July, the comet will be moving in the lower part of Ursa Major below The Plough.
By the end of July the comet will be moving through galaxy fields in the constellation of Coma Berenices.

How bright it will get, who knows? It’s a comet after all.

But do make sure that you get yourself out there to have a look at what could turn out to be a long awaited and magnificent comet.







Barnard’s Star – The rapidly moving star.

Barnard’s Star is a very interesting star.

It is known as The Runaway Star, and for good reason.
It’s apparent motion across the sky is relatively fast.

This is a result of it being fairly close to us and its motion changes by a degree every 351 years.

Below is an animated GIF of Barnard’s Star showing its rapid movement across the sky.

One image was taken by me in June 2012.

The other image taken by Nick Hewitt more recently.

You can see how much the star has shifted north over 8 years.


Look Out For Venus

My YouTube video shows you what to expect over the next few weeks as the planet moves ever closer to The Sun and lower in our evening sky.


Venus is looking magnificent in the evening sky at the moment as you can see from my series of images below.

My YouTube video shows you what to expect over the next few weeks as the planet edges ever closer to The Sun and gets lower in our evening sky.



Saving Apollo 13 – 50th Anniversary Event of Launch day.

Today is the 50th Anniversary since the launch of Apollo 13.

A special event organised by Go Space Watch in Sutton Coldfield has been cancelled, so I have offered to do my Apollo 13 presentation online instead.

Details of the meeting are below:

Saturday 11th April. 7pm BST (6pm UT).
Dave Eagle – Apollo 13 50th Anniversary Presentation.

Saving Apollo 13: Houston We’ve Had a Problem.

Join to the meeting using the Zoom link below.
Meeting ID: 808 786 331
Password: 030400

Venus Photo-bombs The Pleiades.

In the first week of April, Venus Photo-bombs The Pleiades Star Cluster in Taurus.

On the evening of the 2nd it will be just below The Pleiades.

On the 3rd, Venus will be at its closest to the cluster lying close to Merope.
It will be a dazzling jewel amongst the much fainter stars within the cluster.

On the 4th of April, Venus will have started moving away from the cluster as the bright planet heads eastwards.
(Or is that The Pleiades heading westwards?).

Let’s hope we get some more clear skies.

Have Fun.




One Million Interactions

One Million Interactions – Inspiring the next generation of space scientists.

The One Million Interactions programme is a partnership between the UK Space Agency, ESERO-UK, STEM Ambassadors and the Careers and Enterprise Company to support the UK space sector to deliver 1,000,000 interactions per year with young people. Each time you speak to one young person that counts as one interaction, so if you speak to a class of 30, that is 30 interactions. The programme will offer volunteering opportunities and bespoke training for STEM Ambassadors from the space sector.  We wish to re-engage with space employers to increase the number of volunteers and active engagement events within the Space Sector.

If you are an Ambassador working in the space industry, or wish to engage with STEM activities with Space as a theme, we would love you to link into this initiative. 

If wish to link to this scheme please contact your regional STEM Ambassador Hub here

or E Mail Kathryn Kroon

Moon, Venus & Pleiades

There’s a nice conjunction of The Moon, Venus & Pleiades star cluster coming up.

On the evening of Thursday the 26th of March, the very thin crescent Moon will be low in the western sky as the sky darkens.

(Note: The size of The Moon has been exaggerated in these images).

The next evening (27th March) The Moon is higher in the sky.
It is now approaching Venus and The Pleiades.
Theses are themselves getting closer for a close encounter early next month.

On the evening of the 28th March the three objects are close together, making a nice triangle.
This will be a great photographic opportunity to capture the three objects in one image.

The next evening The Moon will have started to move away as the crescent thickens.

Early next month Venus photo-bombs The Pleiades.
I’ll post more details about this later.

Keep Looking Up!

Keep Safe and well.

All diagrams produced using the excellent planetarium software Stellarium.

Jupiter, Mars Saturn & The Moon

If you are blessed with clear skies (yeah right!) over the next few mornings there will be a nice display of planets and The Moon in the morning sky.
Mars, Jupiter, Saturn and The Moon are all visible low down in the south-eastern sky a little while before dawn.

You will have to get up and be out looking by about 5:30am UT to get the views shown in the diagrams below.

Tomorrow 18th March. 5:30am UT.
The Moon will be close to Jupiter and Mars.

Thursday 19th March. 5:30am UT.
The Moon has moved away below Saturn and will be visible as a thinner crescent very low to the horizon.
Jupiter and Mars have moved a little bit closer together.

Friday 20th March. 5:30am UT.
Jupiter and Mars are at conjunction. Mars, with its fast apparent motion overtakes Jupiter as it moves eastwards along the ecliptic. The two planets will still be fairly close together on the 21st, but Mars will soon move away over the next few days.
The Moon is now a lot lower down that morning and rises a little later.
So stay out there to give yourself the challenge of spotting The Moon in the brightening sky after you have spotted the conjunction.