Sunday, 13 April 2014

Heavens Above!

The north facing slopes, lack of streetlights and elevated position over the Forth, makes Cuthill Park ideal for stargazing.


The International Space Station always passes over starting from a westerly part of the sky, but not always from the same point.  An average good pass can last about 5 minutes.  The ISS looks like an incredibly bright, fast-moving star and can be mistaken for an aircraft. However, the ISS has no flashing lights and it can be much brighter. It seemingly just glides across the sky.

You can find out the timings of the International Space Station pass overs by visiting MeteorWatch.


Put at its simplest, a load of solar material containing plasma gets hurled out of the sun.  When the plasma hits the Earth's magnetosphere, it causes geomagnetic storms which we called The Aurora Borealis.

The Aurora Borealis or Northern Lights are usually seen near the poles of the Earth, but can be seen further South in the UK.

Just like Earth weather, space weather can be very unpredictable and forecasts can be very vague.  Keep an eye on NOAA Space Weather Scalesto see the likelihood of being able to spot the Aurora.

To watch the Aurora, you only need your eyes, just like watching meteors or the International Space Station. Look North and low down on the horizon, it may be faint at first.


Meteors can appear in any part of the sky throughout the year (see here for more info)!  However, at certain times of the year, they are more abundant than others, for example the
Perseid meteor showers light up our sky every year on 12 and 13 August!

The key to spotting meteors is a wide view of the sky with as little light as possible.

If this has whetted your appetite for some stargazing - head for the hills of Cuthill Park! 

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