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Manchester Astronomical Society
Established 1903

Manastro Journal for February

Unfortunately with the country still in lockdown, the Godlee Observatory is still closed for the forseeable future. Why not join us instead for a 'Zoom' webchat, most Thursday evenings. See Facebook for details.

In the Sky for the next few weeks:-









The Moon

1st Quarter on the 19th

Full Moon on 27th

3rd Quarter on the 4th

New Moon on 11th

Planet(s) of the month: Mars

Diameter: 6792 km 0.5325 Earths
Mass: 0.1074 Earths
Density: 3.93 g/cc (water=1)
Gravity: 0.379 G
Rotation Period: 1.03 days = 1d 00h 37m 23s


© Stephen Faulder

The planets for the next few months are putting on a very poor show, with only Mars in any position of note to be able to observe this month, located 3.3º south of the Pleiades at the end of the month. By the end of the month Saturn and Jupiter will start to make an appearance in the morning sky, but will be very low and difficult to observe.

Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun and the second-smallest planet in the Solar System after Mercury. In English, Mars carries the name of the Roman god of war and is often referred to as the 'Red Planet'. The latter refers to the effect of the iron oxide prevalent on Mars' surface, which gives it a reddish appearance distinctive among the astronomical bodies visible to the naked eye. Mars is a terrestrial planet with a thin atmosphere, with surface features reminiscent of the impact craters of the Moon and the valleys, deserts and polar ice caps of Earth.

Constellation of the Month: Coma Berenices (15th February 22:00)

Coma Berenices

Coma Berenices, or Berenice’s Hair, is a constellation in the northern sky. It was named after the Queen Berenice II of Egypt. The constellation is home to the North Galactic Pole.

The Greek astronomer Ptolemy considered Coma Berenices to be an asterism in the constellation Leo, representing the tuft at the end of the lion’s tail, and it was not until the 16th century that Berenice’s Hair was promoted to a constellation in its own right, on a celestial globe by the cartographer Caspar Vopel. It is the Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe who is usually credited for the promotion. He included Coma Berenices among the constellations in his star catalogue of 1602.

Coma Berenices is not a large constellation, yet it contains a number of famous deep sky objects, among them the Black Eye Galaxy (Messier 64), Messier 98, Messier 99, Messier 100, the globular cluster Messier 53, the Needle Galaxy (NGC 4565) and the Coma Cluster of galaxies. It also contains the northern part of the Virgo cluster of galaxies.

Coma Berenices is the 42nd constellation in size, occupying an area of 386 square degrees. It lies in the third quadrant of the northern hemisphere (NQ3) and can be seen at latitudes between +90° and -70°. The neighboring constellations are Boötes, Canes Venatici, Leo, Ursa Major, and Virgo.


M53 © Mike Oates

Meteor Showers

Peak 8th α-Centaurids (ZHR 6)


On Thursday, February 18th at 20.45, the NASA 2020 Mars Perseverance Rover is due to touchdown on the Red Planet. A NASA broadcast of the landing (plus other videos) are available from 20.15 at:

MAS Society & MAS Facebook members' recent images

Here is a selection of some of the recent images from our members

IC5146 cocoon nebula

IC5146 cocoon nebula © Phil Swift - 14/01/21

M1 Crab Nebula

M1 Crab Nebula © Bob Smith - 12/01/21


M45 © Mark Forbes - 12/01/21

NGC7380 Wizard Nebula

NGC7380 Wizard Nebula © Phil Swift - 12/01/21

IC1396 Elephants Truk Nebula

IC1396 Elephants Trunk © Phiil Swift - 19/01/21

IC443 Jellyfish Nebula

IC443 Jellyfish Nebula © Rikesh Patel - 23/01/21




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