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Page last updated at 18:20 GMT, Thursday, 23 December 2010
Brough observatory is star gazing in the New Year
Paul Reed from Blackburn Leisure Astronomy Society
Astronomer Paul Reed from the Blackburn Leisure Astronomy Society

Sky watchers in East Yorkshire and northern Lincolnshire will be fixing their eyes on a series of celestial events during the New Year.

Whilst some will be recovering from the New Year celebrations, others will be setting their alarm clocks for the early hours of the morning to catch a glimpse of: the Quadrantids meteor shower; a partial solar eclipse and the alignment of Jupiter and Uranus.

Among those watching the spectacle will be the Brough Astronomy Society, also known as the Blackburn Leisure Astronomy Society, which is hosting a weekend of public events at its observatory in Brough between 14 and 16 January 2011.

The Quadrantids meteor shower is expected to produce 40 meteors per hour at their peak on 3 and 4 January.

Jupiter
Jupiter's alignment with Uranus will be visible in rural locations

The best time to see the meteor shower is between midnight and 0500 GMT when the sky is at its darkest. Urban or well lit areas may impair chances of its visibility.

"The Quadrantids meteor shower happens at the same time every year because that involves the Earth passing through some asteroidal debris," explained local astronomer Paul Reed.

"You would notice them as a bright streak of light passing rapidly across the sky and then fading out."

In the same period, a partial solar eclipse will occur around dawn on 4 January, with the best viewing spots on the east coast.

"Eclipses are periodic and happen with predictable regularity," explained Mr Reed.

"In our region, by the time the Sun comes up over the horizon at sunrise the eclipse has already been in progress for a while and we'll see at the most, maybe about a third of the Sun covered by the moon. I think probably by 0915 the whole thing will be over."

The alignment of Jupiter and Uranus takes place on the following day. The spectacle on 5 January should be easy to spot with binoculars in the early evening. Jupiter is the brightest planet in the southern sky and Uranus will be visible just above it, recognisable by it's faint blue colour.

Sun prominence
A solar filter telescope has enabled the Society to study the Sun

"The Jupiter-Uranus conjunction happens relatively regularly so it's not incredibly rare but the advantage of this particular one is that Jupiter is very bright in the sky and Uranus is very faint, but they're close enough together to be seen through a pair of average binoculars."

During the Society's weekend of sky watching events, visitors can also get a chance to observe the Sun courtesy of a new solar filter telescope, which was recently acquired thanks to a £4,850 grant.

The recent investment means the Society can take the mobile telescope out in the community, enabling schools and public groups to study the Sun.

Blackburn Leisure Astronomy Society's Star Gazing events run from 14 to 16 January 2011. For more information visit their website.




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