Friday, 27 July 2012

Stonehenge Landscape. Your guide to the summer night sky


Big, open skies are a defining feature of the countryside and on a clear night you can see some 4,000 stars sparkling in our universe.

Take a look below at our great stargazing spots, and why not download one of our Dark Skies walking guides?  Situated on the edge of Salisbury Plain, the prehistoric ceremonial landscape of Stonehenge occupies a large, sparsely populated area of ancient downland ideal for star gazing. The monuments here are directly connected to the skies above, with stones aligned to moonrises and moonsets, in addition to the Midsummer and Midwinter solstices. Keep an ear out for the Stone Curlew's haunting 'coo-ree' bird call, particularly in autumn.
Your guide to the summer night sky Stonehenge Landscape, Wiltshire
The Perseid meteor shower is set to peak around 12/13 August, but it’s well worth 
keeping an eye out for meteors any time from July 23 to August 22. The thin, crescent 
moon will be out of the way early, setting the stage for a potentially spectacular show. 
For best viewing, pick a cloudless night and look to the northeast after midnight.

The July and August skies are filled with all manner of interesting objects that can be viewed in dark sky conditions. Arrive before sunset to see the ancient earthworks at their best in slanting evening light. The banks of the 4,000-year-old Stonehenge Avenue can be seen leading north-east, away from the stone circle. 

The Perseid meteor shower is set to peak around 12/13 August, but it’s well worth  keeping an eye out for meteors any time from July 23 to August 22. The thin, crescent  moon will be out of the way early, setting the stage for a potentially spectacular show.  For best viewing, pick a cloudless night and look to the northeast after midnight. 
Overhead there is the summer triangle starting with Vega (a bright white star which is  almost overhead, part of the constellation Lyra), Deneb to the left in Cygnus (the swan  constellation) and Altair, south east in Sagitta/Aquila. These stars can be used as  pointers to other stars. Go to Vega and look westward to find the bright reddish star 
Arcturus, part of Bootes the Kite. The pretty group of curved stars to the east of Arcturus  is Corona Borealis, a cornet of stars. The Plough/Big Dipper is in the north west sky and becomes the tail and rear end of the Great Bear/ Ursa Major. 

If the sky is dark and clear of any clouds you should be able to make out the Milky Way,  a ribbon of millions of stars threading its way across the heavens. If you are using binoculars this really is a stunning sight.

Download the PDF here
http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/visit/activities/walking/view-page/item479320/

Stonehenge Tour Guide


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