Practical Astronomy Show – 9th March 2019

The Practical Astronomy Show comes to Kettering, Northamptonshire.

A FREE, yes I did say FREE whole day of practical astronomy.
What’s not to like?

The Practical Astronomy Show brings a selection of leading astronomy businesses, organisations and educational institutions together under one roof, for one day.

Astronomy products and services will be available for purchase from various stands.

Organisations involved in astronomy education, outreach and tourism will be available to meet and greet the general public.

I will have a small stand at the show.

As well as selling my books and promoting presentations and planetarium, I will have lots of hands-on fun for visitors as well.
This will, of course include the ever popular whiff and feel of comet 67P and some new 3D astronomical images.

I will also be promoting all the local astronomical societies in my area.
If your society would like me to hand out some leaflets, please let me have them.

A list of the main attending vendors is at the bottom of this page.

As well as the trade stands displaying lots of astronomy goodies, there are a number of free talks as well:

  • Dr Paul Abel – UK Visual Astronomer.
  • Dr Robin Glover – Author of SharpCap PRO image capture software.
  • Gary Palmer – UK Astrophotographer.
  • Damien Peach – UK Astrophotographer.
  • Niels Haagh – designer of the unique Panther mount.

Exhibitor stand numbers so far…

F1 Altair Astro / iOptron / Pegasus

F2 Widescreen Centre

F3 Tring Astronomy Centre

F4 Orion Optics

F5 Rother Valley Optics

F6 Starlight Xpress

F7 365 Astronomy

F8 Peak2Valley Instruments / Saturn Instruments

F9 Ian King Imaging

F10a Gary Palmer Astrophotography – Speaker

F10b Dr Robin Glover SharpCap PRO – Speaker

F11 Altair Astro

F12 WW Astro

Exhibitors so far…

656 Imaging

Teleskop Schutzbauten

Space Rocks

NPAE Precision Astro Engineering


BAA – British Astronomical Association

Campaign for Dark Skies

Online Astronomy Society Academy

Webb Deep Sky Society

BBC Sky at Night Magazine

International Astronomy Show

Star-Gazing (That’s Me Folks!)

Tim Treadwell

Sky Diary for January 2019

My free monthly sky diary for January 2019 showing the events of the night sky visible from the UK is now available in a printable pdf version for download.
Click here, or on the image below to download the pdf.

I also have the sky diary to share available on Google calendars.
Click here to go to my Google calendar.

More events will be added to the live Google calendar as more information becomes available.

Don’t forget to watch the results and images coming back from New Horizons as it whizzes past the Kuiper Belt object Ultima Thule on New Years Day.
Click on the link below for more details:

Comet C/2018 Y1 (Iwamoto) – A nice Object in January?

For a printable version of this page, CLICK THIS LINK.

Another comet of interest was discovered on the 18th of December by Japanese astronomer Masayuki Iwamoto.

Comet C/2018 Y1 (Iwamoto) is a fast-moving comet passing closest to Earth around the 11th of January. It will still be at least 28 million miles from Earth at it’s closest.

It’s estimated maximum brightness will be between +7.5 and +8.9. Although not that bright, it should be easily visible in binoculars or a small telescope and make a great photographic subject.

The chart below shows the path of the comet against the star background over the next 3 months.














The map below shows the comet’s path during the first part of January until the beginning of February.

The map below shows the path of the comet throughout January, into February.

On the 3rd of February, the comet passes a couple of degrees north of The Sombrero Galaxy Messier 108.

On the 10th and 11th of February the comet will pass fairly close to the three Messier galaxies, M95, M96 and M105.

This will make a great photographic opportunity, especially as the comet will be at its brightest but it will be moving at its quickest around this time. The Moon will be just before 1st Quarter, so stay up late into the early hours after Moonset when the comet is high in the sky.

On the 12th of February, the comet will by now have moved considerably and will lie fairly close to the bright +3.6 magnitude star Eta (η) Leonis, situated within The Sickle of Leo.
The Moon will be at First Quarter on this evening.

Passing through the northern part of Cancer mid-February, by the 18th of February the comet will be found close to the 1st magnitude star Castor in Gemini, making it very easy to find.

This map shows the path of the comet towards the end of February into March 2019.


By the 27th of February, the comet, now fading considerably, will have moved into Auriga. It passes between the bright open clusters M38 and M36 on this date, making another great photographic opportunity. The Moon will be just after last quarter this day, so will not rise until the early hours.

How this comet will actually perform and how bright it might become is anyone’s guess.
After all, it is a comet.

The only way to tell for sure is to out there and enjoy this new comet and whatever it brings us.


For a printable version of this page, CLICK THIS LINK.

New Horizons Ultima Thule Flyby – How to watch

If the political climate and government department shut-downs in the United States continue, NASA TV will not be operating on New Years Day.

This is of course the day that New Horizons is shooting past its next target way out in the Kuiper Belt; The Ultima Thule Flyby.

Click HERE or on the image below to download the press kit.

If NASA TV isn’t back up and running by then, live images and data streaming back from the probe on the day will not be broadcast.

Luckily there are other ways of us being able to keep up with this.

Live coverage will be streamed via that Web site.
The schedule of the webcasts is below:

Friday 28th December, 2018
18:00 – 18:30 GMT (1:00-1:30 pm EST)
New Horizons: Beyond Pluto. Preview of the spacecraft and science operations during the Ultima Thule flyby.

Monday 31st December, 2018
19:00 – 20:00 GMT (2:00-3:00 pm EST)
Press briefing: Ultima Thule flyby science and operations preview

20:00 – 21:00 GMT (3:00-4:00 pm EST)
Q&A: Ask the New Horizons Team

01:00 – 04:00 GMT (8:00-11:00 pm EST)
Panel discussion on exploration of small worlds (01:00 – 02:00 8 – 9 pm EST); Ultima Thule flyby countdown events; mission updates

Tuesday 1st January, 2019
05:15 – 05:45 GMT (12:15-12:45 am EST)
Live coverage of countdown to closest approach (12:33 am); real-time flyby simulations

14:45 – 15:15 GMT (9:45 – 10:15 am EST)
Live coverage of New Horizons signal-acquisition from Ultima Thule flyby

16:30 – 17:30 GMT (11:30 am– 12:30 pm EST)
Press briefing: Spacecraft status, latest images and data download schedule

Wednesday 2nd January, 2019
17:00 – 18:00 GMT (2:00-3:00 pm EST)
Press briefing: Science results from Ultima Thule

Thursday 3rd January, 2019
19:00 – 20:00 (2:00-3:00 pm EST)
Press briefing: Science results from Ultima Thule

To make sure everyone can join in the excitement, Alan Stern, Principle Investigator for New Horizons, is determined to keep us all as informed as much as possible so will be streaming and posting as many ways as possible.

John Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory will be webcasting live on their Youtube Channel:

Alan will also be posting results on social media, so keep up to date with this exciting encounter by following him here:



Comet 46P / Wirtanen at it’s best.

Comet 46P/ Wirtanen is at it’s closest to Earth this weekend.

It’s supposed to be naked eye, but I’ve so far failed to see it without optical aid. It is now easily visible in 10×50 binoculars. The Coma is a bit bigger than the apparent size of the full Moon. In 15×70 binoculars the full extent of the coma can be seen and it is HUGE!

Despite what the popular media say, it’s not going to be spectacular, or dazzling.
This weekend it will be conveniently located smack bang between the Hyades and Pleiades star clusters in Taurus, so will be fairly high up in the sky late evening.

To make the most of this opportunity to see it before the Moon gets even brighter, free maps of it’s position are available to download from my Web site:



Comet 46P – 13th December 2018.
72mm refractor and Nikon D750 DSLR.



Pre-Christmas Comet fun

So! Comet 46P / Wirtanen (The original target of the Rosetta and Philae mission) is huge!

It’s apparent size is a little over 1°, making it larger than the apparent size of The Moon (or Sun).

It is also supposedly bright enough to be a naked eye object.
But being so big, it’s light is spread out over a wide area of sky, making it a bit more difficult to make out, especially if you have some light pollution, like me.

It’s not visible from my location with the naked eye, but it is just about visible in my 10×50 finder scope. Very extensive and faint, a bit like Messier 33 in Triangulum.

A pair of 15×70 binoculars really do it more justice, showing it much brighter and just how extensive the coma reaches out from the pseudo nucleus.

Here’s an image I took on the 9th of December.

Using the subs I took, I also made an animation showing the movement of the comet during the duration of the imaging session.

Travelling northwards (that makes a change!), 46P will at its brightest on the 17th of December.
At this time it will be located between The Hyades & The Pleiades in Taurus, so will be very easy to find.

Click here to download my guide for Comet 46P.

How big is the Coma? I have made a composite image showing the Comet against M42, The Orion Nebula. Both images taken with the same setup on the 8th of December.

While I was in the area, I wanted to do some more comet fun, so I wandered up to catch Comet 64P / Swift-Gehrels, which was just starting to cut across the constellation of Triangulum that evening.
It’s a lot smaller and fainter, at about 10th magnitude, but is still showing up very nicely in the image.

Just before I finished, I pointed the telescope towards Mars so I could capture Neptune close to it before they move too far apart from one another. Here’s the result.

All images taken using a 72mm refractor and a Nikon D750 DSLR.

Comet 64P’s path for November and December is below.
(Click on the map for a bigger view)

For a black on white printable version, Click Here.


Sky Diary for December 2018

My free monthly sky diary for December 2018 showing the events of the night sky visible from the UK is now available in pdf form to download and print.
Click here, or on the image below to download the pdf.

I also have the sky diary to share which is available on Google calendars.
Click here to go to my Google calendar.

My guide to viewing Comet 46P Wirtanan, which is now a naked eye object and at its best this month, is also available here:

More sky events will be added to the live Google calendar as more information becomes available.

North Essex Astronomical Society – 21st November 2018

On Wednesday the 21st of November the Flat Tim fun and games for all ages roadshow will be out once again for my very last evening presentation of the year.

This time it’s another visit to my very good friends at North Essex Astronomical Society.

I shall be inflicting on them my ever popular audience-participation presentation:
“Celebrate Tim Peake’s Principia Mission”.


I am looking forward to meeting up with this group again and catching up with some very good friends.

Like all my other visits out with this presentation, I’m really looking forward to having a lot of fun with this lot during the audience participation bits. I am sure that, like the other groups I have taken this presentation to, they will really enjoy the fun evening @Flat_Tim and I have planned.

All are very welcome, especially kids, as this presentation is aimed at all kids with any level of knowledge, at all ages from 10 – 110.
So bring along your children, grandchildren, parents and grandparents to find out what Tim got up to during his 6-month stay in The International Space Station.

Just come along enjoy the presentation and say “Hello”.
If not to me, then to @Flat_Tim.

I wonder how keen these folks will be compared to some of the other groups about having their selfies taken with him at the end of the evening for me to stick on social media. I can’t wait to find out.

If you can’t make any of my Tim Peake talks, or don’t want to, just make sure that you visit Cardiff to see the Soyuz capsule (TMA-19M) and Sokol KV-2 space suit.
These are currently on display at The National Museum in Cardiff until the 10th of February. Click this link for more details.

There is also a virtual reality space descent simulator which I can tell you is absolutely brilliant.
Click here to see details of Tim’s Soyuz capsule tour.

The Capsule and suit will eventually land back at The London Science Museum next year.

The meeting starts at 8:00pm.

Henry Dixon Hall
Henry Dixon Rd

Anyone is welcome – beginner or expert – and there is no need to pre-book.
A small charge applies to help us cover costs (typically £3 for non-members; £2 for members; U16s free).
Doors open at 7.30pm with the talk starting at 8.00pm.

Note that if you are using satnav system, this postcode may not take you directly to the hall – please check this Google Maps link if you aren’t sure: 

Wolverhampton Astronomical Society – Monday 19th November

On Monday the 19th of November I will be once again visiting Wolverhampton Astronomical Society.

I will be taking them on a wild ride, touring from The Earth out to the very edge of our observable universe, hitch-hiking on a ray of light.

Appropriately, the presentation is entitled:
A Whistle-Stop Tour of the Universe (Hitch-Hiking on a Ray of Light).


So let’s hope that they all strap themselves in and brace themselves for a journey that really is out of this world.
Of course, it’s just a really fantastic excuse to show lots of beautiful images of our wonderful universe.
Unfortunately, Flat Tim won’t be attending!

So if you are in the area, come along and say “Hello”.

Wolverhampton AS’ meeting starts at 7:30pm.

Highfields Environmental Centre,
Boundary Way,

WV4 4NT 

+ Google Map