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You may have noticed (it’s been hard to miss) that the stars have been shining brighter than usual over the past week and there has been plenty of action to keep us entertained in the night sky. Stargazers are over the moon during the current coronavirus lockdown, as with less pollution-causing clearer skies, many more stars are becoming more visible even to amateurs like you and I. Let us explain what has been happening and what to look out for this week, locked down but looking up...

Last week you may have spotted some fascinating streaks of light dashing through the sky creating unmissable sights. These lights were satellites from Starlink and are part of the American company SpaceX’s plan to set up a global constellation of 42,000 satellites which aim to ‘deliver high-speed broadband internet to locations where access has been unreliable, expensive, or completely unavailable.’ As their solar panels reflect the sun’s rays, the satellites shine brightly in the night sky, creating streaks of light. If you missed these satellites there should be plenty more sightings to come as SpaceX hopes to have 12,000 satellites in orbit by the mid-2020s and has submitted plans to launch another 30,000 so keep an eye out!

Richmond, North Yorkshire Star Gazing

This month, Venus is the real star of the show and the one to look out for as tonight (Tuesday 28th April) it will be shining at its greatest brightness of the year, shining more than nine times brighter than its brightest planetary competitor, Jupiter, and it will outshine Sirius, the brightest star in Earth’s night sky, by at least 20-fold. After this week, the bright “evening star” will slowly start to dim again before the planet disappears in the sun’s glare at the end of May. It will reappear in early June as a “morning star.”

With the clear night skies in North Yorkshire, it is the perfect place to do a spot of stargazing and our holiday properties have large glass windows as well as private gardens and hot tubs to enjoy whilst pointing at the night sky. Send us your shining bright star pics and happy hunting… Here are a few of our favourites:

Look up this Lockdown…

While you are looking out for Venus tonight why not have a look and try and spot the five major consellations of stars that you will recognize for evermore with our 5 simple stargazing steps…

1. Look above Venus for the constellation of Auriga

First of all, find the brightest ‘star’ in the sky – the sparkling planet Venus. Now look straight above the bright planet and slightly to the right and you’ll see another bright star. That’s Capella, the “golden star”— the brightest in the constellation of Auriga and the sixth-brightest star in the night sky…

2. Look above Venus for the constellation of Gemini

Look above Venus and slightly to the left and you’ll see two bright stars close together, that’s the ‘twins’ of Gemini, Pollux and the slightly fainter Castor. Pollux is a single giant star nine times the radius of our Sun, and has a confirmed exoplanet in orbit, while the Castor star system, visible to us as one point of light, contains a whopping six stars…

3. Find the constellation of Leo.

Glance towards the South and look upwards and you’ll see the constellation of Leo ‘the lion’. It’s dominated by the star Denebola at the tip of its tail and Regulus at one of the lion’s front paws. Regulus forms the period in the backwards “question mark” shape that makes up the lion’s head…

4. Look almost straight up for the Big Dipper/Plough.

Facing North East, look straight up for the Big Dipper/Plough. This one’s actually not a constellation, but a familiar shape of stars that will already be known to many of you. It’s comprised of seven stars (Alkaid, Mizar, Alioth, Megrez, Phecda, Merak and Dubhe), most of which form the closest star cluster to our Sun. It’s actually part of the constellation of Ursa Major, ‘the great bear’…

5. Use the Big Dipper/Plough to find constellation of the Little Dipper.

Facing North, use the Big Dipper/Plough to find the Little Dipper. Officially called Ursa Minor, the end of the tail of the ‘Little Dipper’ is Polaris, better known as the North Star. Earth’s axis points at Polaris, so it never appears to move. Instead, the entire northern sky appears to revolve around it. Use the two stars in the Big Dipper/Plough at the end of the bowl—Merak and Dubhe—to move down towards the horizon to the next bright star. That’s Polaris, and from there you can easily find another bright star, Kochab, that helps define the “Little Dipper.”

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