A lunar eclipse, snow moon and a comet will spectacularly light up our night skies this February 10th!
February’s full moon is traditionally called the Snow Moon because usually the heaviest snows fall in February. Deep snow made hunting more difficult, the moon was also called the Hunger Moon by some tribes struggling to find food. The Moon will rise at 16:44 GMT on the evening of February 10 and set at 07:30 the following morning. It will rise again at 17:56 GMT on February 11.
A penumbral lunar eclipse occurs when the Sun, Earth, and Moon align in an almost straight line. When this happens, the Earth blocks some of the Sun’s light from directly reaching the Moon’s surface, and covers a part of the Moon with the outer part of its shadow – also known as the penumbra. The rest receives the same amount of sunlight as usual, making the penumbral eclipse more difficult to observe than a total or partial eclipse.
The penumbral eclipse is due to start at 22:34 GMT on February 10, peak at 00.43 on February 11, and end at 02:53. It will be visible from Europe, most of Asia, Africa and most of North America.
Comet 45P/Honda-Mrkos-Pajdušáková is named after the astronomers who discovered it in 1948 – Minoru Honda, Antonín Mrkos, and Ľudmila Pajdušáková. It is a periodic comet, meaning it follows a predictable path around the sun, and can be seen from Earth every five and a quarter years.
Top Places to view the Dark Skies – in the Brecon Beacons
1. Usk Reservoir
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The car park area at Usk reservoir is a beautiful place to have a family picnic as well as an ideal place to enjoy outstanding dark skies. The large flat area allows set up of telescopes and the road access from Trecastle means it is easily accessible. This area enjoys a naked eye limiting magnitude of 6.4 and is protected from the light pollution of the South Wales valleys.
2. Crai Reservoir
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This reservoir is not as accessible as Usk, but a short drive down an access lane allows the set up of telescopes to enjoy stargazing down to a limiting magnitude of 6.37. There are also laybys along the A4607 which provide ideal places to enjoy the beauty of the dark skies.
3. Llanthony Priory
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One of the most beautiful ruined buildings in the care of CADW, Llanthony Priory has pristine skies and is situated along the Offa’s Dyke Path just on the Welsh-English border, with skies that have a limiting magnitude of 6.35. The priory is set in one of the most charming areas to observe in Wales.
4. Hay Bluff
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The road over Gospel Pass from Llanthony to Hay-on-Wye brings you to the car park on Hay Bluff, a hill overlooking the Wye valley with great views over Powys and Shropshire to the distant north-west. The skies have a limiting magnitude of 6.34. The town of Hay is the largest centre of second hand bookshops outside of London, making this a good place to look for astronomy titles.
5. National Park Visitor Centre (Mountain Centre)
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The visitor centre is signposted at the village of Libanus on the main A470 road and is very accessible both day and night. Enjoying skies with a limiting magnitude of 6.37, the centre is one of the best and most accessible areas to set up telescopes and is within an hour’s drive of every one of the South Wales valleys.
6. Pen Rhiw Ddu
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The car park off the winding road between Llandeilo and Brynamman over the Black Mountain is a great location as there is good access from the Swansea Valley and plenty of room for telescopes. It also overlooks the darkness of Mid and West Wales with the skies here enjoying a limiting magnitude of 6.31.
7. Carreg Cennen
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The wonderful castle at Carreg Cennen sitting on its huge limestone cliff offers a great day out with breathtaking views across the valley to the west and one of the darkest skies in the region at a limiting magnitude of 6.26. It is accessible from Llandeilo, Carmarthen and Ammanford and is within an hour’s drive of the South Wales valleys and the rural heartland of West Wales.
8. Craig-y-nos Country Park and Craig Y Nos Castle
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Craig-y-Nos Castle is the former home of opera singer Adelina Patti, one of the greatest sopranos in history. The skies here have a limiting magnitude of 6.30 and are very accessible by road from Swansea and Brecon.
9. Sugar Loaf Mountain
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The hill dominating the skyline from Abergavenny is accessible off the main A40 road. The limiting magnitude here is 6.10 and you enjoy a wide view over the south and west whilst avoiding much of the light pollution of the towns to the south.
10. Llangorse Lake
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Very accessible from the South Wales valleys and the Midlands along the A40 road, Llangors Lake has a profusion of places to set up telescopes. It shares the location with an outdoor pursuits centre, which has some stray light but with a limiting magnitude of 6.24 hopefully they make little intrusion into this beauty spot.
The Brecon Beacons offers a wide range of accommodation to suit all your requirements to make the most of our dark skies! Whether you want to bring your dog along so need pet-friendly accommodation, or fancied coming with a group of friends there will be somewhere for you! Plan where you’ll stay here.