Partial solar eclipse on the 10th June

There will be a partial solar eclipse visible from Abergavenny on the 10th June 2021.  It will start at 10:04 am, the maximum is about an hour later at 11:09 am and it will finish at 12:20 pm.  The Sun will be be very high in the sky at over 53 degrees, let’s hope it will not be too cloudy!  Under no circumstances should you look at the Sun with your  unprotected eyes and specially not with any instruments that were not designed for the purpose, if you do it is very likely you will suffer irreparable damage to your eyesight.  You can purchase eclipse glasses for about £5 or project the Sun through a piece of card with a pinhole in it onto a second piece of card.  Of course you can also buy special telescopes and filters that allow you to observe the Sun in safety.  If in any doubt please contact a experienced member for advice (

For more details on timing please visit the website

There is some good advice on how to safely observer Sun at this link

Next meeting of the Astronomical Society

Owing to some individuals that decided to log into the meeting on the 1st April and disrupt it we had to close the meeting.  It has been decided to re-run the meeting this coming Thursday 8th April at 7pm.  Bob Wright will present the second half of his talk on the Artemis project (this is the third time we have tried to do this presentation – so let us hope third time lucky!).

The link is in the email sent to you but this will not be available on this website – in order to try and deter the unwelcome visitors we had last week.  In addition, when you join the meeting there will be a “waiting room”and attendees will be admitted to the meeting at around 7pm so if you log on a bit early please be patient.  I will also keep an eye out for latecomers during the meeting.  If you want to join the meeting but do not have the link you can contact me at the following email address


Nova in Cassiopeia

A nova has flared up in Cassiopeia.  A nova is caused when a white dwarf in a binary pair has been drawing material from its companion star.  A point is reached where a thermonuclear reaction starts and the white dwarf flares up for a few weeks and is visible right across the galaxy.  It is not to be confused with a supernova which is an altogether less common and more violent affair.  This nova is shining at about magnitude 7.5, that means it is just too dim to see by eye but easily visible in binoculars.  It is also fairly easy to find and the link below gives some clear instructions on how to locate it.  Fortunately it is close to the open cluster Messier 50, and in binoculars it is just below and to the left and in the same field.  These are fairly rare events, astronomers estimate that there are around 50 in the Milky Way each year but only a small proportion are visible from Earth.  There may be some clear nights this week so get your binoculars and go nova hunting!

Bright Nova Erupts in Cassiopeia


Stargazing activity for this week

Additional note, I did this exercise for Abergavenny last week and although it was not the best of nights – it was a bit misty and very cold, I managed to count 14 stars in Orion from my back garden in Abergavenny.  The app then informed me that that was better than 77% of places in the UK so that can’t be bad. – Nick Busby


Not sure if it will be clear at all this week but if it is there is an activity going on that the Campaign for Rural England organises each year.  The idea is that you count all the stars you can see by eye in the constellation of Orion and send in the results.  This will allow any changes to light pollution in the UK to be mapped.  You can find full details and all support materials by clicking on the following link:

Star Count 2021: explore what we learned


Happy New Year

Wishing you a very happy, peaceful and healthy New Year.

It has certainly been a difficult and challenging year to put it mildly.  Out of necessity we have become used to staying in touch via Zoom but can look forward with hope that at some point this year we will be able to meet again in person. 

On a more positive note and setting aside for a moment the problems that 2000 held, from an astronomical observers viewpoint it was a remarkable year, particularly for those with an interest in our solar system.  Jupiter and Saturn were around for much of the summer although annoyingly low in the sky, but they made up for that with the best conjunction since 1623 on 2000 December 21.  The 1623 conjunction was not visible at night – you would need to go back to 1226 to have seen the next best one and you will not be able to see a similar conjunction until 2080.  The planets also made a spectacular triple with a crescent Moon on the December 16th.

Still on the planets, Mars has had one of its best apparitions in many years.  It was very close and large and thankfully, unlike the last apparition a couple of years ago was not veiled by sandstorms.  It is still observable high in the south west early in the evening although is much smaller and receding rapidly.

In July, literally out of the blue, we had the comet C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE).  This comet was first spotted back in late March during the NEOWISE mission of the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) space telescope.  Nobody knew then what a beautiful naked eye object it would turn out to be.  It was easily visible at dusk in the northern skies for a couple of weeks.

All of these phenomena could easily be observed by eye and even photographed with basic equipment, which goes to show that you do not need to go to any expense to enjoy the night sky, it can be a very welcome source of joy and diversion from more earthly problems whatever one’s means.


Its been about 10 months since I took up astronomy and being a member of AAS (at least in theory as I didn’t quite make my first meeting before lockdown kicked in early 2020) has helped enormously.
Particularly a big thank you to Nick Busby who has helped me enormously with both setting up my telescope and tips and advice- I have enjoyed the Zoom meetings very much – very informative and interesting thanks to all who gave presentations.
I am looking forward to this new year and observing the night sky, as well as doing a bit of astrophotography – will be great when we can get together for real , have a pint and meet some of you!
Clear skies and thank you!!!
Tony P-F