Babe Among the Stars: Planet Tally

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Galaxy Babe's column banner, showing a full moon and some little folk looking up at the sky

Mortal as I am, I know that I am born for a day. But when I follow at my pleasure the serried multitude of the stars in their circular course, my feet no longer touch the earth - Ptolemy

The Sun

Further to my earlier BATS' updates on the awakening Sun, have a peek at the breathtaking video available on the BBC News website. Scientists say it is 'like looking at the details of our star through a microscope'.

Good news, bad news

First, the good news: I'm pleased to report that several people not only viewed Mercury last month, but they also told me about it. I saw the alignment between Mercury and Venus between 8-9pm on 4 April. Now the bad news: I'm told less than 1% of the world's population have seen Mercury; let's hope that that percentage improved following the little dance the two planets performed for us last month!


The red planet Mars has been in the constellation Gemini 'the twins' for some time; this month it moves into Leo 'the lion', so there will be opportunities for alignments with another reddish object - namely Regulus (alpha Leonis) which sits nicely on the ecliptic path. Regulus is one of the four 'Royal' stars - guardians of the night sky in ancient times.

US President Barack Obama has announced: By the mid-2030s I believe we can send humans to orbit Mars and return them safely to Earth. And a landing on Mars will follow. And I expect to be around to see it. His words had a familiar ring - I recall the speech by President Kennedy about sending a man to the Moon - he, of course, didn't live to see it. In February 2010 President Obama cancelled Nasa's Constellation Moon landings programme which had been initiated by President George W Bush following the Columbia shuttle disaster in 2003 which resulted in the loss of seven astronauts. Politicians and presidents come and go, and plans can be dumped by later incumbents. So forgive me for not getting too excited about projected plans for space missions by someone who will no longer be calling the shots by then.

Planet Tally

I am doing really well so far this year: up to April I've notched up viewings of Mercury, Venus, Mars, Saturn and Jupiter. My son reminded me that I've also seen Earth... smiley - rolleyes but I don't usually count that smiley - winkeye Is anyone else keeping a record of their sightings? I'll start a table if there are enough interested participants!

May Diary Dates

  • 01: Venus 6° north of Aldebaran
  • 03: World Press Freedom Day as designated by the United Nations General Assembly
  • 06: Eta Aquarids meteor shower maximum
  • 10 (1am): Uranus 6° south of Moon
  • 12 (5pm): Mercury 8° south of Moon
  • 12/13: Mars moves into Leo
  • 14: New Moon
  • 16: Venus 0.08° south of sliver crescent Moon
  • 19: The 4th International Sidewalk Astronomy Night
  • 20: Mars, the Moon and Regulus form a nice triangle in Leo
  • 27: Full Moon (the Flower Moon)
  • 28 (2-3am): Moon will occult Al Niyat (sigma Scorpii) - this will be challenging as the Moon attained fullness just a couple of hours prior

  • Chat about your celestial observances at the H2G2 Astronomy Society. Comment on anything in this edition of Babe Among the Stars by starting a new conversation below.

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