Hampshire Astronomical Group

Established 1960, Online since 1998

Important Announcement

Observatory Status

We are now taking bookings for our "Astronomy for Beginners" course.
This 10 week course starts on 13th September 2021 and again on 10th January 2022.
For details see this link.

When covid restrictions are lifted we will be publicising out programme of public open evenings - watch this space

Our public talks will continue using Zoom, see our talks page

May 2021

Observatory Accessibility


More details...

Hampshire Astronomical Group welcome you!

Thank you for visiting our website

The Hampshire Astronomical Group operating from its Clanfield Observatory base on the borders of the villages of Horndean and Clanfield is reputed to be one of the best equipped amateur observatories in the UK. Our observatory is situated on the edge of beautiful South Downs National Park.

Like so many other organisations over the past three months, we too have had to close the observatory facilities and cease all activities due to the Coronovirus Pandemic. At the moment we have cautiously opened the observatory for members to use, but we are maintaining the social distancing guidance very closely.

Unfortunately we are not yet in a position to be able to open the observatory for visits by members of the public, although we are keeping this under constant review.

If you wish to visit the observatory we are expecting to be able to make some evenings available after the New Year; please keep an eye on our website for details. Priority will be given to those whose evening had to be cancelled due to the Lockdown announced in March 2020.

At some point we also hope to start the monthly public talks at the Clanfield Memorial Hall. Once again, please keep an eye on the website or our Facebook page, for such announcements.

In the meantime, thank you for visiting our website and we hope to see you in person in the not too distant future.

Graham Bryant FRAS
President:  Hampshire Astronomical Group

What's on in the next month...

11th June
Gravitational Waves
A talk by Dr Laura Nuttall
Clanfield Observatory - start time 7:30pm

More details...

Astronomical Events for May 2021


12 May – There will be a 1% lit Moon, to find it locate Venus which can be found 30 minutes after sunset low above the west-northwest horizon, and the Moon will be 2° below the planet.

19 May – The Moon will be 4° above Regulus.

23 May – Spica will be below and to the right of the Moon.

26 May – This month’s Full Moon is also known as the Supermoon when it will appear 4 arcminutes or 13.5% bigger.

Moon – Clair-obscur Effects

19 May – 00:44 BST – Look for the clair-obscur effect known as the lunar ‘X’ and ‘V’ which form on the Moon’s terminator.  Start observing from around midnight.


All month – A good time to observe the different phases of Mercury.  At the beginning of the month, the planet can be viewed about 40 minutes after sunset, however a clear north-north-west horizon is required.  On 1 May the phase will be 81% and mag. -1.1, 10 May – 54%, -0.2; 17 May – 35%, +0.5; and 23 May - 18%, +1.6.

2 May – Jupiter reaches equinox, and due to it being sideways on to the Sun, this will be a good time to observe the four Galilean moons.  Look out for occultations, transits and eclipses between the moons (see below).

4 May – 03:00 BST – Saturn can be seen 6.8° north-west of the Moon.

5 May – 03:00 BST – Jupiter will be 5.5° north-west of the Moon.

13 May – 20:30 BST – Mercury will be 2.6° north of the crescent Moon.

15 May – 21:00 BST – Mars can be seen 4.4° west of the Moon.

17 May – 18:45 BST– Mercury reaches greatest elongation when it will be 22° east of the Sun.  The planet will be at an altitude of about 8° at 21:40 BST.

27 May – just after sunset – Mercury and Venus will be separated by 1.5°, they can be seen approximately 10-12° above the west north-western horizon.

28 May – Mercury and Venus will have a ½° separation.  Look for them 1 hour after sunset, where they will be low above the northwest horizon.

29 May – 20:45 BST – Mercury is 1° south of Venus.

31 May – 02:00 BST – Saturn is 5° north of the Moon.

Galilean Moon Occultations, Transits and Eclipses

6 May – 04:26-04:32 BST – Io’s shadow eclipses Europa.

14 May – 04:45-04:53 BST – Ganymede’s shadow partially eclipses Io.

29 May – 03:27-04:17 BST – Most of Io’s disc will be eclipsed by Ganymede’s shadow.

Meteor Showers

6 May – 02:30 BST-morning twilight – Best time to view the Eta Aquarid meteor shower which peaks at 04:00 BST.


15/16 May – 23:35-00:04 BST – The Moon occults Mebsuta (Epsilon Geminorum, mag. +3.0).


24 May – Start of the noctilucent cloud season which can be seen 90-120 minutes after sunset in the northwest horizon, or 90-120 before sunrise in the northeast horizon.


Moon Image Credit: Steve Knight
Jupiter & Saturn Images Credit: NASA
Noctilucent Cloud Image Credit: Steve Knight 

Hampshire Sky

Hampshire Astronomical Group Online Magazine

The May 2021 edition of the Hampshire Sky has now been uploaded to our website.

To find the latest edition of the Hampshire Sky click here

If you have any images or articles you wish to have included in future issues please send them to the editor Gill England @ gill.england@hantsastro.org.uk or Steve Knight steve.knight@hantsastro.org.uk 

Images or articles need to be submitted by 1st August 2021 to make the September 2021 Issue. 


Astronomy for Beginners Course

Our popular astronomy course restarts this September in a new format.

For further details see Astronomy for Beginners.

What's on between next month and 6 months...

9th July
The effect of stellar activity on the detection of terrestial planets
A talk by Professor Don Pollacco
Clanfield Observatory - start time 7:30pm

More details...
8th October
The Fermi Paradox
A talk by Dr Stephen Webb
Zoom - start time 7:45pm

More details...

What's on after the next 6 months...

10th December
Science of Santa
A talk by Dr Steve Barrett
Clanfield Memorial Hall OR Zoom TBC - start time 7:45pm

More details...
14th January
Time in Einstein's Universe
A talk by Colin Stuart
ZOOM - Details to be confirmed - start time 7:45pm

More details...
11th February
Appley Bridge meteorite - The Space Rock that Hit Lancashire
A talk by Russell Parry
Zoom - start time 7:45pm

More details...

Future Learn Free Astronomy Courses

FutureLearn is a leading social learning platform, enabling digital education through conversation.  FutureLearn offers free and paid for online courses and degrees from world-leading UK and international universities as well as courses from companies, centres of research excellence and specialist education providers.  FutureLearn partners with over a quarter of the world’s top universities and organisations such as Accenture, Microsoft, the British Council, European Space Agency, Houses of Parliament, Raspberry Pi and Cancer Research UK.   

FutureLearn provides a range of free online courses from some of the world's leading educators. Courses are created by UK and international universities, as well as cultural institutions and global centres of excellence in a range of subject areas, like the British Council and the European Space Agency.

A number of Astronomy courses are listed in the website's Science, Engineering and Maths category. Recent titles have included 'Moons' and 'In the Night Sky: Orion', both from The Open University. The lead educator on the Orion course, Professor Monica Grady, CBE, worked as part of the project team that successfully landed the Philae probe on a comet last November.

An added advantage of FutureLearn is its focus on 'social learning', whereby learners from all over the world can have conversations about the topics covered during a course with one another, and with the academics leading the course.

FutureLearn adds courses throughout the year and repeats popular titles, so the easiest way to keep up to date is to register on the website. Details on upcoming Astronomy courses will also be listed here.

Next Free Online Astronomy Courses:

Moons: -  For details to book yourself onto this course click here

Monitoring the Oceans from Space: - For details to book yourself onto this course click here

How to Survive on Mars: the Science Behind the Human Exploration of Mars:- For details to book yourself onto this course click here