This page provides some astronomical information on a monthly basis for those of you living in the Taunton area. Timings are in BST (British Summer Time) unless otherwise noted. Latest additions or updates are highlighted with a red border.
This month we have sections on:
Clocks in the United Kingdom and the rest of the European Union go back one hour on the last Sunday of October under the provisions of Directive 2000/84/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 19 January 2001 on summer-time arrangements. Consequently, on October 25th at 02:00 BST (British Summer Time) clocks are moved back to 01:00 GMT (Greenwich Mean Time). Any event listed here taking place after 01:00 GMT on October 25th will be given in terms of Greenwich Mean Time.
Additional information on the phases of the Moon, the seasons, summer times, eclipses, chronological cycles and eras, religious calendars, the civil calendar and holiday dates in the United Kingdom can be found in HMNAO's Astronomical and Calendarial Sheet No. 107 for 2020. This is a pdf document for which a document reader can be downloaded by clicking on the Adobe Reader icon above.
This web page can also be accessed from outside the UK Hydrographic Office on http://astro.ukho.gov.uk/nao/taunton.html.
↻ The last update to this page was made on Monday, 2020 October 19 at 09:46:02 BST.
An animated view of the Sun's disk over the last twenty-eight days is shown in the image on the left. North is at the top of the image and east is to the left. These images come from the Helioseismic and Magnetic Imager instrument on the NASA Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) satellite. More multi-wavelength data from the SDO can be found here.
Active region AR2776, a Solar Cycle 25 feature which has exhibited a significant number of minor B-class solar flares, lies in the south-eastern quadrant of the Sun and has quadrupled in size since it appeared five days ago. A new feature, AR2777, is about to cross the south-western limb of the Sun only a day after it first appeared. The total number of spotless days for 2020 remains at two hundred and four, or 70% of the year so far. Solar winds are currently blowing with velocities of around 360km/s and the planetary Kp geomagnetic activity index is likely to peak at 1 (quiet) today. A selection of small coronal holes are distributed across the surface of the Sun. Solar winds emanating from these features could reach the Earth between October 21st and October 25th. The overall amount of solar activity remains at very low levels.
NASA reported that a reversal of the Sun's magnetic field took place at the start of 2014 indicating that the maximum of Solar Cycle 24 had been reached. A plot of sunspot numbers, both observed and predicted versus time indicates that the solar maximum of Solar Cycle 24 was more complex than had been previously predicted. The maximum was double-peaked in a similar manner to that of the previous maximum of 2001/2002. The individual peaks occurred in 2011 and 2014 with the latter being the larger of the two. However, sunspot numbers were significantly down on the predictions made for the maximum — indeed Solar Cycle 24 may be the weakest in the last 100 years or so i.e. since Solar Cycle 14.
The declining phase of the solar cycle brings increased numbers of cosmic rays to the Earth, an increased frequency of 'pink' aurorae and a slight dimming of the Sun of approximately 0.1% in terms of the total solar irradiance. TSIS-1 was launched on December 15th 2017, which will monitor the Sun over a five-year period covering the whole of the current solar minimum. Cooling and contraction of the Earth's upper atmosphere in response to the changes on the Sun due to the solar minimum also delayed the orbital decay of satellites such as the Chinese space station, Tiangong 1, which returned to Earth on Monday April 2nd 2018 at 00:16 UTC. The Sun's magnetic field and solar winds provide some protection for the Earth from cosmic rays. A recent paper in the journal Space Weather claims that this solar minimum could see a rise in the number of cosmic rays reaching the Earth by as much as 30% due to the weakening magnetic field of the Sun and reduced levels of solar winds. This could mean an increased risk of radiation exposure for travellers on commercial airlines and possible changes to the climate.
During the post maximum phase of the solar cycle individual energetic events can spawn some of the most powerful flares and coronal mass ejections of the cycle. The so-called Carrington event on September 1st–2nd 1859 during Solar Cycle 10 is a good example of just what might ensue from this type of violent outburst. On 2020 September 15th NASA and NOAA announced that a minimum of the Sun's activity had been reached in December 2019 bringing to an end the old Solar Cycle 24. Predictions are that the new Solar Cycle 25 will be a weak one, similar to its predecessor, peaking in 2025. It is likely to be a deep minimum with long periods without much sunspot or flare activity. Space weather will be dominated by solar winds and cosmic rays rather than sunspots and solar flare activity.
The sequence of Moon phases for this month and their designations are shown in the following animation:
|Moon phases for October 2020 are as follows:|
|Full Moon||—||Thursday October 1st at 22:05 BST
|Last Quarter||—||Saturday October 10th at 01:40 BST|
|New Moon||—||Friday October 16th at 20:31 BST
|First Quarter||—||Friday October 23rd at 14:23 BST|
|Full Moon||—||Saturday October 31st at 15:49 BST
Most distant / smallest Full Moon of 2020
Calendrical Blue Moon for October
The Moon is at apogee (i.e. furthest from the Earth) on Saturday October 3rd at 18:22 BST when it is 406,321 km from the Earth. It is at perigee (i.e. nearest to the Earth) on Saturday October 17th at 00:46 BST when it is 356,912 km from the Earth. The Moon is again at apogee on Friday October 30th at 18:45 GMT when it is 406,394 km from the Earth.
The combination of the Moon being close to perigee and the phase of the Moon being either new or full (i.e. the Sun, Earth and Moon are in alignment) as it is around Friday October 16th and shortly thereafter leads to 'perigean (or proxigean) spring tides' i.e. spring tides with a tidal range slightly larger than those of normal spring tides.
On Saturday October 3rd, the Moon occults the planet Mars in the south-eastern part of the constellation of Pisces. This occultation by the waning gibbous moon is visible from south and south-easternmost South America, most of western Antarctica, the Falkland Islands, Ascension Island and south-western Africa. This occultation is not visible from the United Kingdom.
Please follow the New Moon link above to find out more about our Crescent Moon Watch program which involves making sighting of the new crescent moon as early as possible after the instant of New Moon.
Many of you will have heard of the term 'Blue Moon' in phrases such as 'once in a blue moon ...' meaning a rare or infrequent event. Some of you may also be aware that this month's second full moon is being referred to as a blue moon. January and March in 2018 also had two full moons whereas February 2018 had no full moon. The last time this sequence of events occurred was in 1999. It will happen again in 2037.
There are two 'definitions' of a blue moon describing an extra full moon within a subdivision of a year. One refers to the third of four full moons in a season and, more recently and erroneously, the second full moon in a calendar month. This definition came from an article in the March 1946 edition of Sky & Telescope by James Hugh Pruett and was propagated until 1999 by this well-known astronomy magazine. If you divide the year up into quarters using solstices and equinoxes as limiting dates then the blue moons are termed 'seasonal'. If you adopt calendar months as your criterion, where two full moons occur within a month, then the blue moons are termed 'calendrical'.
The blue part of the name has nothing to do with the colour of the Moon, although on very rare occasions smoke and/or dust in the atmosphere can give the moon a somewhat bluish tint. The term blue moon may be linked to the belief that this second moon was a 'betrayer' moon or 'belewe' moon in the determination of Lent.
Blue moons of both types are listed in sequential order for the period 2000 to 2040 in the table below.
|Year||Full Moon||Year||1st – Full Moon||2nd – Blue Moon|
|2000||February 19||2001||November 1||November 30|
|2002||August 22||2004||July 2||July 31|
|2005||August 19||2007||June 1||June 30|
|2008||May 20||2009||December 2||December 31|
|2010||November 21||2012||August 2||August 31|
|2013||August 21||2015||July 2||July 31|
|2016||May 21||2018||January 2||January 31|
|2019||May 18||2018||March 2||March 31|
|2021||August 22||2020||October 1||October 31|
|2024||August 19||2023||August 1||August 31|
|2027||May 20||2026||May 1||May 31|
|2029||August 24||2028||December 2||December 31|
|2032||August 21||2031||September 1||September 30|
|2035||May 22||2034||July 1||July 31|
|2038||May 18||2037||January 2||January 31|
|2040||August 22||2037||March 2||March 31|
|2039||October 2||October 31|
The above timings are predicated on GMT-based dates. Whichever scheme one adopts, a blue moon is not as rare an event as it might seem. In fact, seasonal blue moons happen seven times in nineteen years or once every 2.7 years on average.
You can also have a 'Black' moon; there are several definitions for this type of moon. One is the second occurrence of a new moon in a calendar month. It can also be the third new moon within a season of four new moons. Both of these are analogous to the blue moon definitions. The third is the absence of a full moon in a calendar month and the fourth is the absence of a new moon in a calendar month. The last two can only happen in February in addition to the previous January and the following March having two full or new moons respectively. February 2018, is an example of the third definition which occurs about once every 19 years.
Some people may have heard of 'dry' moons and 'wet' or 'Cheshire' moons, where the cusps or horns of the crescent moon point upwards. In the northern hemisphere, the dry moon is a summertime moon whereas the wet moon is a wintertime one. Both of these terms are thought to come from Hawaiian astrology where the crescent moon is regarded as a bowl for collecting water.
Folklore has also given us a plethora of names for each month's Full Moon. Here are a selection of names from a variety of cultures including Native American Indian, Colonial American, Pagan, English Medieval or Old English and Anglo-Saxon. I should point out that this list is by no means an exhaustive one.
|Month||Full Moon names|
|January||Wolf / Cold / Chaste / Old / Ice / Moon After Yule|
|February||Snow / Storm / Hunger / Chaste / Wolf|
|March||Worm / Crow / Sap / Chaste / Lenten / Death / Crust / Sugar|
|April||Pink / Paschal / Seed / Sprouting Grass / Egg / Fish / Hare|
|May||Flower / Milk / Mother's / Hare / Corn Planting|
|June||Strawberry / Mead / Rose / Dyan / Thunder / Hot|
|July||Buck / Hay / Wort / Summer / Thunder|
|August||Sturgeon / Corn / Red / Fruit / Green Corn / Grain / Barley|
|September||Harvest / (Full) Corn / Barley|
|October||Hunter's / Dying Grass / Blood / Sanguine / Falling Leaf / Travel / Harvest|
|November||Beaver / Frost / Snow / Mourning / Oak / Hunter's|
|December||Cold / Winter / Oak / Long Night / Moon Before Yule|
There are six eclipses visible during 2020, four penumbral eclipses of the Moon and one annular and one total eclipse of the Sun. Parts of three of the penumbral eclipses of the Moon are visible from the United Kingdom, only one is visible in its entirety. Neither of the solar eclipse are visible from the United Kingdom.
A penumbral eclipse of the Moon occurred on Friday January 10th 2020. It was visible in its entirety from northern Alaska, Asia, the Philippines, Indonesia, western Australia, the Middle East, Madagascar, Africa except eastern parts, Europe including the United Kingdom, Iceland and most of Greenland. Parts of the eclipse were visible from north-western parts of North America, most of Australia, eastern parts of Africa and north-eastern parts of Canada. This was a deep penumbral eclipse with a magnitude of 0.921, making it somewhat easier to discern. From Taunton, the whole eclipse was visible starting about an hour after moonrise at 17:06 UT and ending at 21:14 UT.
A penumbral eclipse of the Moon occurred on Friday June 5th 2020. It was visible in its entirety from most of Australia except the north-eastern part, the Philippines, Indonesia, south-east Asia, most of China except the north-eastern part, central Asia, India, the Middle East, Madagascar and Africa except the north-western part. Parts of the eclipse were visible from New Zealand, Japan, northern Asia, Europe including the United Kingdom, north-western Africa and easternmost parts of South America. This was a modest penumbral eclipse with a magnitude of 0.593, making it difficult to discern. From Taunton, the eclipse started at moonrise at 21:12 BST and ended at 22:07 BST.
An annular eclipse of the Sun occurred on Sunday June 21st 2020. It was visible in its entirety from most of the eastern half of Africa, the northern half of Madagascar, south-east Europe, most of Asia except the northernmost part, westernmost parts of Micronesia and Melanesia, Papua New Guinea and northernmost parts of Australia. The path of annularity began over the north-eastern part of the Republic of the Congo and crossed the north-western part of the Democratic Republic of Congo, the south-eastern tip of the Central African Republic, South Sudan, northern Ethiopia, central Eritrea, Yemen, the south-eastern tip of Saudi Arabia, north-eastern Oman, Pakistan, the northernmost part of India, Tibet, southern China, Taiwan and ended south-east of Guam in the Northern Mariana Islands. The eclipse was not visible from the United Kingdom.
A penumbral eclipse of the Moon occurred on Sunday July 5th 2020. It was visible in its entirety from westernmost parts of Africa and the Americas with the exception of north-western parts of North America. Parts of the eclipse were visible from Madagascar, most of Africa, western Europe including the United Kingdom, the southernmost part of Greenland and north-western parts of the United States, central Canada, eastern Polynesia and New Zealand. From Taunton, the shallow penumbral eclipse started at 04:04 BST and ended at moonset at 05:01 BST. It was a difficult eclipse to detect with the naked eye.
A penumbral eclipse of the Moon occurs on Monday November 30th 2020. It is visible in its entirety from Greenland, North America, Polynesia, the North Island of New Zealand, northern Japan and Siberia. Parts of the eclipse are visible from Scandinavia, the United Kingdom, the Caribbean region, South America, the South Island of New Zealand, Australia, south east Asia and central Asia. From Taunton, the reasonably deep penumbral eclipse starts at 07:30 UT and ends at moonset at 07:48 UT. The depth of the eclipse will make it easier to discern.
A total eclipse of the Sun occurs on Monday December 14th 2020. It is visible in its entirety from the south-eastern part of the Pacific basin including French Polynesia, most of South America except the northern part, parts of Antarctica, the South Atlantic Ocean and the south-western part of Africa. The path of totality begins over the north-eastern part of French Polynesia and passes over the south-eastern Pacific Ocean and then crosses the central part of Chile and Argentina, passing over the South Atlantic Ocean and ends just off the coast of central Namibia. The eclipse is not visible from the United Kingdom.
Further information on all the eclipses in 2020 can be found on the Eclipses Online web pages. This web site provides information on both solar and lunar eclipses in the period from 1501 CE to 2100 CE. Global circumstances of both solar and lunar eclipses are provided as well as local circumstances of the solar eclipses based on a gazetteer of approximately 1500 locations worldwide. Eclipses for next year, 2021, are also available.
Mercury is barely visible, very low in the west south-western evening twilight sky during most of October as it moves closer to the Sun after greatest eastern elongation on Thursday October 1st. It fades noticeably from magnitude +0.0 at the start of the month to +3.0 at the end of the third week of October when it disappears from the evening sky as it moves towards inferior conjunction on Sunday October 25th. Mercury is 7° south of the waxing crescent moon on Saturday October 17th.
Venus remains prominent in the eastern morning twilight sky, rising three to four hours before the Sun. It fades slightly from magnitude −4.1 at the start of the month to −4.0 at the end of October. Venus lies 0.09° south of Regulus (α Leonis) on Saturday October 3rd and lies 4° south of the waning crescent moon on Wednesday October 14th.
Mars rises in the eastern sky around sunset and sets around sunrise. It spends the remainder of the year in the southern part of the constellation of Pisces. Mars brightens somewhat from magnitude −2.4 at the start of the month to −2.6 on Tuesday October 6th when it makes its closest approach to the Earth since 2003, outshining Jupiter in the process. It will not be this close to the Earth again until September 2035. Mars fades noticeably to magnitude −2.2 by the end of October. Mars lies 0.7° north of the waning gibbous moon on Saturday October 3th. In certain parts of the world this event can be seen as an occultation by the Moon. It reaches opposition on Tuesday October 13th and lies 3° north of the waxing gibbous moon on Thursday October 29th.
Jupiter is visible in the southern evening twilight sky rising in the early afternoon and setting before midnight in the south-western sky. It lies in the eastern part of the constellation of Sagittarius until the latter half of December. Jupiter fades slightly from magnitude −2.3 at the start of the month to −2.2 at the end of October. It lies 2° north of the waxing crescent moon on Thursday October 22nd. The separation between Jupiter and Saturn decreases from 7.3° to 5.2° during October.
Saturn is visible in the southern evening twilight sky rising in the early afternoon and setting before midnight in the south-western sky. It lies in the eastern part of the constellation of Sagittarius until mid-December. Saturn fades slightly from magnitude +0.5 at the start of the month to +0.6 at the end of October. It lies 3.0° north of the first quarter moon on Friday October 23rd. The separation between Saturn and Jupiter decreases from 7.3° to 5.2° during October.
Uranus rises in the east north-eastern sky around sunset and sets just after sunrise in the west north-western sky. It is a blue-green object which remains at magnitude +5.7 for the whole of October. Uranus lies in the southern part of the constellation of Aries where it remains for the rest of the year. Uranus is approximately 11.3° north east of the fourth magnitude star Omicron Piscium. This planet can also be glimpsed with the naked eye under optimum conditions.
Neptune rises shortly before sunset in the eastern twilight sky and sets two to three hours before sunrise in the western sky. It lies in the north-eastern part of the constellation of Aquarius where it will remain for the rest of the year. Neptune is approximately 6.8° to the north east of the third magnitude star Lambda Aquarii. It is a bluish object of magnitude +7.8 for the whole of the month. It can be visible with good binoculars under optimum conditions although it can also be difficult to distinguish Neptune from other stellar objects of a similar magnitude.
Pluto rises about in the mid-afternoon in the south-eastern sky and sets just before midnight in the south-western sky. It lies in the north-eastern part of the constellation of Sagittarius about 3.4° to the east of Jupiter in mid-October. Strictly speaking, this is a dwarf planet which was demoted from the ranks of the 'bona-fide' planets at the International Astronomical Union General Assembly in Prague in 2006. At magnitude +14.8, you will need a much larger telescope to find this remote member of the Solar System.
The rarely-spotted Zodiacal Light is best seen in the half hour or so before astronomical twilight starts in the morning or in the half hour or so after astronomical twilight ends in the evening. It is best seen when the ecliptic, the path the Sun takes in the night sky, is at a steep angle to the horizon. In northerly latitudes, this occurs in the western evening post-twilight sky in February and March and the eastern morning pre-twilight sky in September and October. The Zodiacal Light appears as a large, softly radiant pyramid of light with its base near the horizon and its axis centred on the Zodiacal constellations. It appears to be about as bright as the Milky Way, consequently a dark, unpolluted sky without haze is essential to see this phenomenon. Beware, it can easily be confused with the twilight itself. In the photograph, the Zodiacal Light is on the left and the Milky Way is on the right. For Taunton, astronomical twilight starts in the morning at around 05:20 BST at the beginning of the month and at 05:10 GMT at the end of the month. The cause of this so-called 'false dawn' is sunlight reflecting of a lens-shaped cloud of dust in the plane of the inner solar system.
The Orionid meteor shower is active over very nearly the whole of October and the first week of November. The shower exhibits a moderate number of fast meteors and fireballs with long trains, reaching a peak of activity at the end of the third week of October. These meteors are debris connected with the orbit of 1P/Halley's Comet which is encountered by the Earth at this time of year. The waxing crescent moon sets well before midnight on the night of October 20th-21st when the shower is at its maximum. This means that moonlight will not interfere with the optimum early morning observation window for this shower when up to 20-30 meteors per hour can normally be observed. Occasionally, the peak rate can reach 70 meteors per hour on a 12-year period due to the influence of Jupiter. Unfortunately, we are close to the minimum of that cycle. The radiant, the point from which the meteors appear to emanate, lies on the border of the constellations of Orion and Gemini. Subsidiary maxima close to the main peak of activity ensure that rates will remain high for several days around October 21st.
The Draconids, a weak shower with a rate of around ten meteors per hour, is active during the first week or so of October, peaking on Thursday October 8th. The shower is best seen when comet 21P/Giacobini-Zinner returns to perihelion and consists of extremely slow-moving meteors. The radiant lies close to the head of the constellation of Draco the Dragon, making the radiant circumpolar from our latitudes and best seen during the first half of the night. Fortunately, the Moon is close to the last quarter phase and consequently moonlight does not interfere with the observation window this year. No other regular showers exhibiting significant numbers of meteors are active this month. Further information on these and other meteor showers occurring during 2020 can be found at the International Meteor Organization and their 2020 Meteor Shower Calendar.
It is worth noting that bright sporadic meteors and fireballs are possible at any time e.g. the fireball observed over many parts of England and Scotland on Saturday March 3rd 2012 at 21:40 GMT. Larger events, known as bolides, are rarer. Typically, this is a very bright fireball reaching an apparent magnitude of −14 or so, perhaps three times as bright as a full moon. Even rarer are the superbolides, events with apparent magnitudes of −17 or so, around 50 times brighter than the full moon. A recent example of a superbolide was the Chelyabinsk meteor of 2013 February 15th at 03:20 UTC which may have been a 20-metre diameter near-Earth asteroid.
Another loosely-related phenomenon is the re-entry of space debris from space vehicles and satellites whose orbits are decaying to the point where they burn up in the Earth's atmosphere. A couple of well-reported examples of this occurred at around 23:00 BST on Friday September 21st 2012 as well as the return of the GOCE satellite just after midnight on Tuesday November 12th 2013.
There are a number of comets around the sky at the moment. However, most of them require telescopic assistance to see them and some may be too far south in the sky to be seen by observers based in the United Kingdom. Here is a brief summary of the comets that may be accessible to observers with binoculars or small telescopes in the northern hemisphere.
88P/HOWELL is a magnitude +8.6 object visible with binoculars or a small telescope in the constellation of Scorpius for the first two days of the month. It then crosses over into the neighbouring constellation of Ophiuchus until the middle of the month. The comet then moves into Sagittarius for the remainder of the month. By the end of month, it will have faded by about half a magnitude. It can just be seen very low in the southern sky in the evening twilight. It reached perihelion on Saturday September 26th 2020 and is likely to be difficult to find.
C/2020 M3 (ATLAS) is a magnitude +9.2 object best seen with binoculars or a small telescope in the southern sky two to three hours after midnight. It should brighten by nearly a magnitude during October and spends the first half of the month in the constellation of Eridanus and then moves into Lepus for the latter half of October. C/2020 M3 was discovered on June 27th this year and will reach perihelion on October 25th.
If you want to look for the International Space Station (ISS) as it passes over Taunton, please have a look at this page on the Heavens Above web site. The ISS is at least as bright as a first magnitude star and can approach the brightness of Venus. Similarly, if you want to look for the Chinese space station, Tiangong-1, you are too late! Tiangong-1 re-entered the Earth's atmosphere in an 'uncontrolled manner' on April 2nd 2018 at 00:16 UTC over an uninhabited part of the central Pacific Ocean at longitude 164.3° west and 13.6° south after the loss of a telemetry link in 2016. Information for Tiangong-2, the sole remaining Chinese space station orbiting the Earth, can be found on this page. Tiangong-2 is significantly fainter than the ISS, normally as bright as a third or fourth magnitude star. Predictions for other satellites may also be obtained from the Heavens Above web site.
The above image is a 30 minute forecast of the location and probability of auroral activity based loosely on a model developed at Johns Hopkins' Applied Physics Laboratory known as the Ovation Aurora Forecast model. It provides estimates of the energy per unit area on the Earth's atmosphere from observations of the solar wind and interplanetary magnetic field made by the Advanced Composition Explorer satellite in conjunction with empirical relationships derived from the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program. It shows where the aurora is most likely to be seen and how bright it might be. The model generates a global estimate of power, called the Hemispheric Power, deposited into the atmosphere in gigawatts (GW). For powers of less than 20GW, little or no aurora may be visible. For powers of 20-50GW, you may need to be relatively close to the aurora to see it. For values above 50GW, the aurora should be easily observable, active and mobile. For values above 100GW, this is considered to be a significant storm where the aurora may be visible from hundreds of miles away. The current prediction is downloaded when you load this page. If you want to download the latest model, simply reload this page or press F5. If you want to see the full-sized map, please click on the above image.
The above sky chart, generated from the Heavens-Above.com web site, shows what the night sky looks like at 22:00 BST on Friday October 16th 2020 from Taunton. The night sky will look the same an hour later at 23:00 BST at the beginning of the month and an hour earlier at 20:00 GMT (21:00 BST) at the end of the month. Please click on the chart to see a full-sized sky chart image. If you want to generate your own star chart for Taunton for another date and/or time, please follow this link
In October 2020, the amount of daylight (measured from sunrise to sunset) decreases from 11 hours 36 minutes at the start of the month to 9 hours 44 minutes at the end of the month. Total daylight (sunrise to sunset) for the month is 330 hours 20 minutes.
start and end times of civil, nautical and astronomical twilights.
|h m||h m||h m||h m||h m|
|** ** No phenomenon that day|
|PLEASE NOTE: These times are in Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) except between 01:00 GMT on March 29th and 01:00 GMT on October 25th when the times are in BST (British Summer Time) which is one hour in advance of GMT. Times given in red are in GMT.|
The timings in the table above should be accurate to within 1–2 minutes inside the red circle superimposed on the map shown on the left.
Rising and setting times for the Sun, Moon and planets and times of twilights for other locations can be obtained from HMNAO's Websurf web pages using the Rise, Set and Twilight Times option.
The actual times at which the Sun will just appear, or disappear, will depend on the difference between the altitudes of the observer and the local horizon and the actual refraction, which depends on the meteorological conditions along the light path. Differences of a minute or so from the tabulated times are to be expected.
For the drivers amongst you, the 'Hours of Darkness', as defined in the Road Vehicle Lighting Regulations (1989), start half an hour after sunset and end half an hour before the following sunrise. Headlights should be used during the Hours of Darkness and sidelights in the half hour periods after sunset and before sunrise. These timings can also be obtained from HMNAO's Websurf web pages using the Rise, Set and Twilight Times option.
For the VFR (Visual Flight Rules) pilots amongst you, night, according to Statutory Instrument 2009 No. 3015, Civil Aviation, The Air Navigation Order 2009, Part 33 (Interpretation), Article 255(1), means "the time from half an hour after sunset until half an hour before sunrise (both times inclusive), sunset and sunrise being determined at surface level". In other words, the night time period starts at the beginning of the Hours of Darkness and finishes at the end of the Hours of Darkness.