Alan Willison, President of the Hertford Astronomy Group, continues his “Getting Started in Astronomy” column series.

Welwyn Hatfield Times: Alan Willison, President of the Hertford Astronomy GroupAlan Willison, Chairman of the Hertford Astronomy Group (Photo: Hertford Astronomy Group)

One of the strange things about news reports is that they frequently talk about things that have happened which, for astronomy, are okay some of the time but a lot of times people want to know what’s going to happen.

Recently, the Hertford Astronomy Group organized a public demonstration in Welwyn Garden City to show a partial solar eclipse and it was great to meet so many of you, especially those who said they learned about it from reading Welwin Hatfield Times.

Welwyn Hatfield Times: Viewing a partial solar eclipse.Show partial solar eclipse. (Photo: Jerry Stone)

And we were also fortunate to get an interview on 3rd County Broadcasting in the afternoon, that is, after the event ended. The interviewer declared that he didn’t know anything about her until he heard her on the news.

Part of writing these articles for WHT is to tell you of things that are to come and hopefully be visible from our area of ​​Hertfordshire so that you can go out and have a look and participate in real astronomy often from the comfort of your own home – it requires little effort.

Welwyn Hatfield Times: An overview of the Hertford Astronomy Group in Welwyn Garden City on how to see a partial solar eclipse.General view of the Hertford Astronomy Group in Welwyn Garden City on how to view a partial solar eclipse. (Photo: Steve Helliser, Hertford Astronomy Group)

Welwyn Hatfield Times: Public demonstration of the Hertford Astronomy Group in Welwyn Garden City to show a partial solar eclipse.View of the Hertford Astronomy Group in Welwyn Garden City to show the partial solar eclipse. (Photo: Hertford Astronomy Group)

Now that the nights are getting much darker earlier in the day, it’s very easy to see some amazing phenomena early in the evening.

We’ve covered the moon in many of these articles, and of course, the moon is a great observing target for people of all ages.

It’s easy to find something beautiful and observe it through any sized telescope or binoculars – those craters and maria (seas) will take your breath away.

Looking south in the early evening, any time before 10 p.m., you’ll see a very bright object, Jupiter.

Which telescope will show its four Galilean moons. It doesn’t have to be expensive, in fact, those discounted by supermarkets around £70 to £80 will do remarkably well.

Look east (on the left) of Jupiter and you’ll find a bright star called Aldebaran. This represents the eye of the bull, famous for appearing in astrology lists.

In addition to these things that will certainly be visible as long as the clouds don’t make things difficult, we can look forward to the next launch date of the Artemis 1 mission to the moon.

This is scheduled for November 14 at 05:07 GMT. NASA has postponed the launch twice before – once due to a technical problem and once due to Hurricane Ian, which hit Florida. This time there is a 69 minute launch window so let’s hope everything goes well.

If you want to get excited about this, log on to NASA’s YouTube site and watch it live. Should there be any issues, the 16th and 19th of November will be booked in reserve.

So much for things that can be seen fairly easily, how about something more challenging? Stars have a limited life. They are born, live and die.

They do not all last the same amount of time and they are not all born at the same time.

New stars are born now and others die now. Stars also die in different ways – some slip away quietly while others go with a bang!

Oftentimes, a star grows larger in the midst of its death because it no longer has the oomph to hold it together. Eventually, it all becomes a little bit relative to the forces acting on each other and the star explodes, leaving behind a large cloud of gas and a small white star.

The gas cloud can be illuminated by this small star and we can observe it on Earth. These objects are called planetary nebulae, which is a very imprecise name as they have nothing to do with planets and are nowhere close to the size of star-forming nebulae.

However, they make a very interesting study and are difficult to find because it gets quite dim (although it can be very bright at the time of the explosion but it does not last). If you can find one in your telescope, it will appear as a faint fuzzy bubble.

However, if you can hook your camera to your telescope’s long exposure facility and train your telescope to track the object against the Earth’s rotation, you can take pictures of these wonderful objects.

To tell us how this can be achieved, the Hertford Astronomy Group has asked Peter Goodhue to attend our next meeting on November 9 at 8:30 PM.

You are welcome to join us either for a face-to-face meeting at the University of Hertfordshire, the College Road site, or as in our Zoom simulcast. Details can be found at

Picture of the month – Dumbbell nebula

Welwyn Hatfield Times: The Dumbbell Nebula, captured by Martin Weston from his garden in Whithamsted.The Dumbbell Nebula, captured by Martin Weston from his garden in Whithamsted. (Photo: Martin Weston)

This is one of the planetary nebulae described above and was taken by a club member, Martin Weston, from his garden in Whithamsted.

The Dumbbell Nebula (also known as the Apple Core Nebula, Messier 27, and NGC 6853) is a planetary nebula (fog surrounding a white dwarf) in the constellation Vulpecula (Fox), at a distance of about 1,360 light-years from us.

The first such nebula was discovered in 1764 by Charles Messier, who was a comet hunter but noticed that the comets changed their position in the sky over time, these similar bodies (to the eye) did not.

Then he made a list of other fuzzy objects that did not change their positions so that he would not waste his time thinking whether this is a culprit or not?

In doing so, Messier compiled a comprehensive catalog of things that are still in great use today.

Leave a Reply