Orionid meteor shower 2016 to light up Wiltshire skies this October

9 10 2016

The Orionid meteor shower will be at its peak — 20 showers per hour — in the morning of  21st October 2016.

Sky gazers in the United Kingdom can brace themselves for a visual feast, thanks to the meteor shower that will light up the sky this October.

meteor-shower

A general view of Stonehenge during the annual Perseid meteor shower in the night sky in Salisbury Plain, southern England August 13, 2013. The Perseid meteor shower is sparked every August when the Earth passes through a stream of space debris left by comet Swift-Tuttle. Picture taken using a long exposure. [Representational image] Reuters

The meteor shower is called Orionid and originates from the remains of the Halley’s Comet. The shower is likely to take place from October 2 to November 7, a Science Alert report said.

The Earth passes through the Halley’s Comet trail twice annually. The last time the planet passed through the trail of Halley’s Comet was in May and Eta Aquarids meteor shower was observed.

The meteor shower will be at its peak — 20 showers per hour — in the morning of October 21 2016. However, scientists have said that the shower will be seen at pre-dawn from today up to October 15, as the moon is likely to hinder the visibility later on.

Various planets, stars and constellations can be observed this month along with the meteor shower. Uranus will be visible opposite the Sun in the east post sunset on October 15 and the full moon will aid the visibility.

Jupiter will be spotted along with its moon with naked eyes during dawn in the east on October 28. Saturn and Venus too will be seen too in the low south-west skies on October 30 and Venus will be more luminous than Saturn.

Aldebaran, the orange star which is known as the bull’s red eye of the constellation Taurus, might be seen in the dark skies on October 18. Also, radiant stars Alpha Leonis and Eta Leonis from constellation Leo can be seen before sunrise on October 25, National Geographic reported.

Article Source and more stories: International Business Times

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Moon Phases for Stonehenge, Wiltshire 2016

23 01 2016

moon-phase

Lunation New Moon First Quarter Full Moon Third Quarter Duration
1150 2 Jan 05:30 29d 15h 01m
1151 10 Jan 01:30 16 Jan 23:26 24 Jan 01:45 1 Feb 03:27 29d 13h 08m
1152 8 Feb 14:38 15 Feb 07:46 22 Feb 18:19 1 Mar 23:10 29d 11h 16m
1153 9 Mar 01:54 15 Mar 17:02 23 Mar 12:00 31 Mar 16:16 29d 9h 29m
1154 7 Apr 12:23 14 Apr 04:59 22 Apr 06:23 30 Apr 04:28 29d 8h 06m
1155 6 May 20:29 13 May 18:02 21 May 22:14 29 May 13:11 29d 7h 30m
1156 5 Jun 03:59 12 Jun 09:09 20 Jun 12:02 27 Jun 19:18 29d 8h 01m
1157 4 Jul 12:00 12 Jul 01:51 19 Jul 23:56 26 Jul 23:59 29d 9h 44m
1158 2 Aug 21:44 10 Aug 19:20 18 Aug 10:26 25 Aug 04:40 29d 12h 19m
1159 1 Sep 10:03 9 Sep 12:48 16 Sep 20:05 23 Sep 10:56 29d 15h 08m
1160 1 Oct 01:11 9 Oct 05:32 16 Oct 05:23 22 Oct 20:13 29d 17h 27m
1161 30 Oct 17:38 7 Nov 19:51 14 Nov 13:52 21 Nov 08:33 29d 18h 40m
1162 29 Nov 12:18 7 Dec 09:02 14 Dec 00:05 21 Dec 01:55 29d 18h 35m
1163 29 Dec 06:53 29d 17h 14m
* All times are local time Stonehenge. Time is adjusted for DST when applicable. Dates are based on the Gregorian calendar.

Links:
http://www.timeanddate.com/moon/phases/uk/london
http://www.calendar-uk.co.uk/lunar-calendar/
http://www.history.com/news/ask-history/why-was-stonehenge-built

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Friday will see a rare cosmic coincidence. Was Stonehenge used to predict eclipses?

19 03 2015

As the eclipse plunges Wiltshire and other places into darkness this Friday (March 20th), two other rare if less spectacular celestial events will be taking place, too: the Spring equinox and a Supermoon. Friday will see three rare celestial events and this will be the first time in living memory that the Spring equinox, a solar eclipse, and a supermoon are all taking place on the same day in the UK.

One of the most intriguing mysteries in the world is the Stonehenge. Nobody knows who built the mysterious Stone Circle in Wiltshire, or what its purpose was exactly. There are many theories associated with Stonehenge and archaeologists have been debating for ages to determine why it was built. Most experts believe that Stonehenge is actually an ancient astronomical calculator.

Eclipses have long been feared as bad omens, but the equinox is celebrated as a time of renewal

Eclipses have long been feared as bad omens, but the equinox is celebrated as a time of renewal

Eclipse Cycles

Now, it’s widely accepted that Stonehenge was used to predict eclipses. The inner “horseshoe” of 19 stones at the very heart of Stonehenge actually acted as a long-term calculator that could predict lunar eclipses. By moving one of Stonehenge’s markers along the 30 markers of the outer circle, it’s discovered that the cycle of the moon can be predicted. Moving this marker one lunar month at a time – as opposed to one lunar day the others were moved – made it possible for them to mark when a lunar eclipse was going to occur in the typical 47-month lunar eclipse cycle. The marker would go around the circle 38 times and halfway through its next circle, on the 47th full moon, a lunar eclipse would occur.

Aubrey Holes
Stonehenge has a ring of 56 pits that are now known as Aubrey holes, after antiquarian John Aubrey. They date back to the late fourth and early fifth millennium. These holes were not really noticed until the 1920s. It’s believed that the only standing feature at Stonehenge at the time these holes were dug was the Heel Stone – the marker of the midsummer sunrise – but this is now proven false. Some experts believe they were meant to hold timbers or more stones, but the astronomical interpretations of these holes are very interesting. It’s also believed that the holes helped to predict astronomical events. Complicated math theories back this up to some degree, as some lunar eclipses can be predicted by using numbers associated with Stonehenge. It’s even believed that Stonehenge was used to keep track of lunar cycles by moving marker stones two holes per day, ending with 56 holes.

Hawkins
Meanwhile, Gerald Hawkins studied Stonehenge much later, in 1965, using computer programs. He found multiple solar and lunar alignments that correlated with the location

of Stonehenge. He set his data so that the positions of the stars and planets would match where they were in 1500 B.C., when he believed it was built, and found that 13 solar correlations and 11 lunar correlations matched up with the megalithic stages. In other words, he believed Stonehenge was used to predict astronomical events. He also believed that it was built to align with the position of the summer and winter solstices.

What is a solar eclipse?
A solar eclipse happens when the moon passes between the sun and the earth, hiding the sun from view and blocking out the sunlight that usually reaches us.

The eclipse, which will be partial, not total, will begin here at around 8.45am on Friday and peak at around 9.30am before ending at 10.30am. It will be the biggest eclipse since August 1999.

Spring equinox

The equinox will also happen on March 20th. While it won’t have any discernable, direct impact on how the solar eclipse looks, it will contribute to a rare collision of three unusual celestial events.

On March 20th, the Earth’s axis will be perpindecular to the sun’s rays — which only happens twice a year, at the two equinoxes. After that, it will start tipping over, making the days longer in the northern hemisphere.

As such, the equinox has long been celebrated as a time of beginning and renewal, by a number of historic cultures, and is linked to Easter and Passover.

The equinox will happen at the same time as a solar eclipse in 2053 and 2072, though it doesn’t always appear as close together as that.

English Heritage will welcome people to Stonehenge to celebrate the Spring (Vernal) Equinox on Saturday 21st March. Expect a short period of access, from first light (approximately 05:45am) until 08:30am. Click here for more info

Supermoon

A very rare supermoon eclipse of the sun is happening this week that won’t take place again until 2034.  A supermoon is when a full, or new moon coincides with the night when the earth and moon’s orbits move them slightly closer together, making the moon look about 14% bigger, and 30% brighter than normal. This generally happens roughly once every 14 months, but can happen more often; in January 2014, there were actually two supermoons in a single month.

In the past, groups have argued that the supermoon could cause natural disasters, madness, or even throw the earth off its axis. Experts agree that the worst thing that might happen is the tide comes in another inch that night.  As well as a supermoon, there is also an event when a full moon is as far away from earth as possible; this is called a micromoon, for obvious reasons.

Some useful Links:

Solar eclipse, Supermoon, Spring equinox:

Solar Eclipse, Supermoon, Spring Equinox: 3 Rare Celestial Events Align March 20th

Solar Eclipse 2015: How to watch a solar eclipse safely

Stonehenge: An Astronomical Calculator

Astro-Archaeology at Stonehenge

Remember that no one should look directly at the sun during a partial eclipse without proper equipment, as it can damage the eyes.

Merlin at Stonehenge
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Heaven and Earth Stonehenge Access Tour

18 11 2014

A special early evening bookable tour, learning about the stars and planetary movements and how early man may have utilised them. Over 12’s only, under 16’s to be accompanied by an adult.

stonehenge-stars1This event is next Saturday (to include a special access visit to the stones), all about the stars and planetary movements and how early man may have utilised them.

Each person is required to bring a torch.

How to Book: Call the English Heritage customer services team to book : 0870 3331183

November 22nd is also the ‘New Moon: In astronomy, new moon is the first phase of the Moon, when it orbits closest to the Sun in the sky as seen from the Earth. More precisely, it is the instant when the Moon and the Sun have the same ecliptical longitude. The Moon is not always visible at this time except when it is seen in silhouette during a solar eclipse or illuminated by earthshine. See the article on phases of the Moon for further details

Merlin @ Stonehenge
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Moving on from Stonehenge: Researchers make the case for archaeoastronomy

16 08 2014

The field of archaeoastronomy is evolving say researchers seeking a closer relationship between astronomy and merging of astronomical techniques and archaeology.

Summer Solstice Sunrise over Stonehenge 2005. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Summer Solstice Sunrise over Stonehenge 2005. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

The merging of astronomical techniques with the archaeological study of ancient man-made features in the landscape could prove Neolithic and Bronze Age people were acute astronomical observers, according to researchers. 

Dubbed archaeoastronomy, the developing and sometimes maligned field takes a multi-disciplinary approach to exploring a range of theories about the astronomical alignment of standing stones and megalithic structures.

Some of these theories were highlighted recently at the 2014 National Astronomy Meeting in Portsmouth.

Archaeoastronomy expert Dr Fabio Silva of University College London has been studying 6000-year-old winter occupation sites and megalithic structures in the Mondego valley in central Portugal.

He said recent research shows that all the entrance corridors of passage graves in a necropolis in the valley aligned “with the seasonal rising over nearby mountains of the star Aldebaran, the brightest star of Taurus”.

Dr Silva believes this link between the appearance of the star in springtime and the mountains where the dolmen builders would have spent their summers “has echoes in local folklore” which recounts how the Serra da Estrela or ‘Mountain Range of the Star’ received its name from a shepherd and his dog following a star.

Some of the most debated claims about archeological alignment continue to be those relating to Stonehenge, which remains subject to a range of theories about solar and lunar alignments. Some archaeoastronomers are however keen to move the debate beyond the famous standing stones of Salisbury Plain.

Dr Daniel Brown of Nottingham Trent University, who presented updates on his work on the 4000-year-old Gardom’s Edge in the UK’s Peak District, which he believes to be astronomically aligned, said: “there’s more to archaeoastronomy than Stonehenge.

“Modern archaeoastronomy encompasses many other research areas such as anthropology, ethnoastronomy and even educational research.”

“It has stepped away from its speculative beginnings and placed itself solidly onto the foundation of statistical methods,” he added.

“However, this pure scientific approach has its own challenges that need to be overcome by embracing humanistic influences and putting the research into context with local cultures and landscape.”

Dr Silva, who is co-editor of the Journal for Skyscape Archaeology, which promotes the role and importance of the sky in archaeological interpretation, added: “We have much to gain if the fields of astronomy and archaeology come together to a fuller and more balanced understanding of European megaliths and the societies that built them.”

Article source: http://www.culture24.org.uk/history-and-heritage/archaeology/art495449 (By Richard Moss)

Merlin @ Stonehenge
The Stonehenge News Blog

 





Stonehenge and the Stars: Perseid Meteor Shower 12th August 2013

27 07 2013

Facilitated by English Heritage and led by an expert local volunteer, the group will enjoy sole access to Stonehenge for two hours. The first hour will be dedicated to a guided tour and Q&A focussing on the astronomical theories surrounding Stonehenge. During the second hour visitors are invited to set up their own telescopes and cameras to star gaze and moon gaze, to share stories and experiences and, weather permitting, to enjoy the Perseid Meteor Shower at its fullest.

Meteor showers have always captured peoples interests. In astronomy, there’s nothing quite like a bright meteor streaking across the glittering canopy of a moonless night sky. The unexpected flash of light adds a dash of magic to an ordinary walk under the stars.Visitors are invited to bring their own telescopes, cameras and binoculars. (Please note: Tripods may not be pressed into the earth and must have rubber/protective feet. We are unable to provide any equipment ourselves). We recommend that visitors also bring red-filter torches. Visitors should wear appropriate clothing and footwear

Meteor showers have always captured peoples interests. In astronomy, there’s nothing quite like a bright meteor streaking across the glittering canopy of a moonless night sky. The unexpected flash of light adds a dash of magic to an ordinary walk under the stars.

How to Book

Purchase your tickets today by calling our dedicated Ticket Sales Team on 0870 333 1183 (Mon – Fri 8.30am – 5.30 Sat 9am – 5pm).

Prices

Ticket price includes entrance to Stonehenge stone circle, star gaze and guide

Link: http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/daysout/events/stonehenge-and-the-stars-sh-12-aug/
Link: http://www.clarksvilleonline.com/2013/07/27/nasa-research-shows-perseid-meteor-shower-to-peak-august-12th-and-13th/
Link: http://www.meteorwatch.org/

Merlin says “In total, the Perseid meteor rate from dark-sky sites could top 100 per hour. That’s a lot of magic. Enjoy the show.”

Merlin @ Stonehenge
The Stonehenge News Blog








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