Saturday, 8 February 2014


It's a hard life being a star with the weather what it is.  The night sky should be a feast for skywatchers at this time of year, but it's difficult to see anything.  This very grainy picture shows - if you can find it - the current morning star, Venus, at top centre, peeping from behind a cloud.  Venus is exceptionally bright at the moment, and is visible in the southeast sky just before dawn.

The reason the picture was taken was that a Twitter text alert came in from AuroraWatch at 5.38 this morning, with a yellow 'minor geomagnetic activity' warning.  The sky was clear, except in the north, and dawn wasn't far away, so it didn't seem worth jumping in the car and dashing over to the north coast.  We're still waiting for a good aurora: sunspot activity should be at its maximum in the eleven-year cycle now, but it's strangely quiet, and anyway the eleven-year cycle seems to have gone wrong. Perhaps the solar weather is also having a bad time.

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