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Gloucestershire astronomers hoping for clear skies for Stargazing Live 2014

By Gloucestershire Echo  |  Posted: January 04, 2014

Stargazing Live is presented by scientist Brian Cox and comedian and amateur astronomer Dara Ó Briain

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ASTRONOMERS are desperately hoping for clear skies at least one night this week so they can take part in Stargazing Live 2014.

Members of the Cotswold Astronomical Society (CAS) plan to take to Montpellier Gardens with their telescopes to take part in the annual event.

But with stormy weather in Gloucestershire since the start of the year, the stargazers fear cloudy skies, heavy rain and strong wind could force them to down telescopes.

Peter Cadogan, the co-ordinator of the group, said: “Because of the poor weather, this year we are going to try setting up in Montpellier Gardens on any evening next week that the skies are clear.

“Hopefully there will be at least one, but the prospects are not good at the moment.

“We certainly get frustrated by the poor weather, which is why we are trying to be flexible this year.”

The public are invited to attend the free event and Mr Cadogan said society members will have telescopes to show people the stars.

And he is hopeful that, weather permitting, there should be plenty of interesting sights to see.

“There should be lots to see, especially the moon and Jupiter, which will be at its closest to us this year,” he said.

“Jupiter will be very bright and there will be a first quarter moon, which is stunning through the telescope.

“We will also find some star clusters and even galaxies if we can, as well as pointing out the winter constellations.”

Stargazing Live has been broadcast on the BBC every January since 2011 and is presented by scientist Brian Cox and comedian and amateur astronomer Dara Ó Briain.

The show, which encourages people across the UK to join in with the stargazing, has been a big hit with astronomers and CAS has been taking part since 2011.

Mr Cadogan said: “The great thing about Stargazing Live is that so many people want to get involved and see the night sky for themselves.

“With these things it is very difficult to predict the weather conditions – we have had some successes, and some failures.

“But when you get a clear night it’s very satisfying to be able to show the stars and the moon to the general public.

“The moon is always changing, even during the course of an evening as the sun’s shadows pass across it, and seeing it close-up through a telescope makes it that much more real.”

In recent years the society has almost doubled its membership numbers from 60 to 120 people, and its events have attracted a large following.

Mr Cadogan added: “The increase is not solely down to Stargazing Live. Lots of really exciting things have been going on in space recently, like Curiosity on Mars or the discovery of water on Mercury.”

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