So the relatives have gone home and it’s time to relax before the craziness that is New Year sets in.
It’s the perfect chance for some ‘me’ time, and what better way toe scape than an hour outside, looking up and taking a wander arounds the universe about our heads.
We’re quite looking in Wombourne in that most places do manage to see a relatively dark sky. yes, it’s not as spectacular as the wilds of Cumbria or mid-Wales, but nevertheless most of the constellations and planets are on view.
Of course we need a cloudless sky, so check out my latest astronomy forecast for Wombourne here.
Whether or not you have a telescope or binoculars, here are my 5 Things to Spot in the Wombourne Night Sky Before New Year (and sometime after too!).
1. Is there life on Mars?
In the early evening southern sky, about 30 degrees above the horizon there’s an orange star.
Can you believe that is the planet Mars????
It will only be visible until about 9pm, so you need to get out as soon as it gets dark to get the best view.
2. See an interstellar nursery
As Mars sets, the constellation of Orion rises. This is one of the most familiar constellations in the winter sky and it he rises over Wombourne in the southeast around 7pm, becoming most spectacular about 10pm. There are three stars set in a line and just below the middle star see if you can see that there is a ‘fuzzy’ area (this is sometimes visible with the naked eye under very clear, crisp skies). This is the famous M42 Nebula, and within this area hot gases and dust and creating new stars.
3. Find your way to the Pole
Many of us are familiar with the constellation of The Plough (or Ursa Major to give its proper name). This constellation of stars rotate around the pole and is always visible form our village.
Look at the two stars in the far right of the ‘pan’ of the saucepan shape the Plough makes.
Draw an imaginary straight line through these stars towards the overhead, and the first, faint star you come to is Polaris, or the Pole Star. This point marks celestial north and all starts in the sky above Wombourne appear to rotate around this star each night.
4. Wish upon a shooting star
Although the peak of the Gemini meteor shower passed in the middle of the month, there will still be some rogue shooting stars (known as meteors) flying around.
No bigger than a grain of sand, these burn up as they hit the earths atmosphere.
Just keep an eye out and you never know when or where you might see one.
I tend to keep a watch overhead for 10-minutes or so, there’s bound to be a shooting star or two, and nothing matches the excitement of seeing one.
5. Venus welcomes a new dawn
If you are up and about before the sun rises, you cannot fail to notice the shining beacon in the southeastern sky. This is the planet Venus. It puts on such a shows that this jewel in the sky welcomes each new day and will be welcoming in 2019.
Whatever you are doing over the Christmas and New Year holidays, don’t forget to look up, there’s a whole universe up there!