U3A Oliva

Greeting Message using JavaScript
Greeting Message using JavaScript

Astronomy Group

Group Leader: James I

Deputy Group Leader:

Email: astronomy@u3aoliva.org

When: Thursday 4:00-5:00 on the 2nd and 4th weeks of the month

Note: We are happy to conduct this group over Zoom if people require it.

Where: C.P.C. (Centro De Participación Ciudadana Pinet), c/ Eras de Juan, Oliva – map here.

Numbers Max: 10 + tutor

If you would like more details or to be an active participant in the group, please contact the leader via the email above.

About Our Group

Astronomy is the study of celestial objects (such as stars, planets, comets, and galaxies) and phenomena that originate outside the Earth’s atmosphere.

We will start with the basics – even just using our eyes to identify the planets and basic constellations, before moving on to the deeper stuff.

No equipment is necessary, a pair of binoculars will allow you to see many new interesting objects!


‘That’s one small step for (a) man one giant leap for mankind.’  Neil Armstrong

‘Been there, done that’.  B. Aldrin.

Some interesting information~

In the early evening it is possible to locate the elusive planet Mercury which is currently positioned far below the brilliant planet Venus in the WSW. 

The later evening sky is now dominated by the bright winter constellations of Orion, Canis Major, and Taurus. These constellations are home to many interesting stars and star clusters, which are visible to the users of binoculars. The constellation Orion represents a Hunter and it is possible to view the Orion Nebula below the 3 “Belt stars”. The bright orange coloured star which marks Orion’s right shoulder is in the news as it may explode soon! The constellation Taurus is home to star clusters The Hyades and the Pleiades are interesting to view using binoculars. The constellation Canis Major, “The Greater Dog” is home to Sirius, brightest star in the evening sky. The stars of “Orion’s Belt” point directly to it and as it rises it flashes and twinkles many colours. Sirius is a nearby star just 8.6 light years distant and it has an unseen “white dwarf” companion which was worshipped by the Dogon Tribe!

Astronomy Update
Recently there was a major announcement about the image of Black Hole which lurks at the centre of our galaxy, the Milky Way. It was a major triumph requiring the coordination of large numbers of radio telescopes from around the globe. The Black Hole, known as Sagittarius A has been studied for many years as it is the source of many powerful pulses of radiation it lies 26.000 light years distant and it is 4.6 million times more massive than the Sun. As you may know Black Holes possess a colossal gravity and any object which approaches too close will be drawn inside and as they fall into the immense gravity-well they are torn apart and emit extremely powerful x-rays.

The morning sky before dawn has Venus, Jupiter, Mars and Saturn present. On May 29th Mars will appear close Jupiter. Jupiter is bright and easily visible; Mars however is somewhat dimmer and ruddy coloured. In the evening sky look high above and locate the “Plough”, its “Handle” is useful for locating two bright stars, first Arcturus and then Spica. Follow the arc of the handle and you will spot Arcturus, an orange-coloured star which is actually a Red Giant star, quite ancient with a cool extensive outer layer. Follow the line from Arcturus further and the bright white star Spica is visible. Arcturus is the 4th brightest star in the night sky and is the alpha star of the constellation Boötes, the Herdsman. The upper part of Boötes constellation is composed of stars arranged in the shape of a “kite”. Spica is the alpha star of Virgo, in Greek Myth Virgo represent Demeter, Goddess of the Harvest. Her daughter Persephone was abducted by Hades who dragged her into his Underworld. Demeter was devastated at the loss of her daughter and neglected her duties and crops failed. Zues seeing the calamity approached Hades appealing him to release Persephone so Earth could once again prosper. Hades reluctantly agreed however, because Persephone had eaten some pomegranate seeds in the Underworld, she could only be reunited with her mother for Spring and Summer. Virgo is not visible during Autumn and Winter as a result.

If the stars which make up the “plough’s blade” are used in the reverse direction to finding the Pole Star, it is possible to view Leo with its alpha star Regulus. Regulus “Little King” is easily seen to be a double star in small telescopes. The main stars of Leo resemble a “Backward Question Mark” and a triangle, but once Leo is seen it is easy to make out the outline of a Lion. If you find this article interesting please do consider joining the U3A Astronomy group, there is no necessity to have any prior or knowledge or own a telescope.

The Black Hole at the centre of our galaxy: Sagittarius A