Calling all budding astronomers!

It’s Global Astronomy Month, and to celebrate, our resident stargazer Paul has detailed upcoming astronomical events and shared tips on how to get started yourself.

If you’re a little unsure on where and how to begin, he has some simple advice to get you off the ground: just look up.

He said: “I would start with the naked eye — it can’t zoom, but it has an amazing field of view — and start out by looking for easily recognisable patterns in the night sky, as well as other bright objects such as planets.

“The more familiar you become with the simpler patterns, such as the Plough, or Orion, the Winter Hexagon, or Winter, Spring and Summer Triangles, the easier it becomes to spot smaller or fainter ones in the gaps.

Red Orion Nebula

“A few months back I remember looking at the night sky in a supermarket car park, just spotting the things I was familiar with, and I saw the International Space Station go over!”

On April 8, North America experienced a total solar eclipse, last observed in Antarctica in 2021. This one lasted twice as long as the previous total eclipse, plunging the US into total darkness for more than four minutes.

There is, however, a much rarer phenomenon scheduled to occur in the coming months: “A recurrent nova is likely to, well, recur soon,” said Paul.

“T Coronae Borealis is a white dwarf star that periodically accumulates enough material to explode again.

“It happens every 80 years or so, so it’s a once-in-a-lifetime kind of event, and scientists are expecting that it will happen again sometime between now and September.

“When it happens, the nova is expected to be about magnitude +2: about as bright as Polaris — not super bright — but easily visible to the naked eye in even a moderately light-polluted sky.”

So, maybe you’ve got a hankering for stargazing, but the price of the equipment has ruined your appetite?

Well, Paul says you don’t need to break the bank to catch some amazing sights: “A telescope isn’t necessary at first, and you may want to go for powerful binoculars before considering one, though a tripod and binocular mount will probably help you get the most out of them.

“10×50 is the gold standard for astronomy in terms of offering a good compromise between zoom, field of view and cost.

“And in terms of looking at stuff through binoculars, you get more from looking at planets or deep sky objects such as the Pleiades than you do from looking at individual bright stars, as those still just look like points of light.


“The Moon is an excellent place to start with this, particularly the time around half-moon being great for looking at its craters through binoculars or a scope.”

There are plenty of resources that tell you exactly what you’re looking at, such as the Stellarium website or even — for the traditionalists out there — a trusty planishpere.

Don’t hesitate to call on these if you want to know what Polaris or the Plough look like before you try to spot them yourself. And don’t forget, you’re always welcome to book one of our Star Tours if you’d like to sharpen your senses and see parts of the universe not even the finest telescope could reach.