Countdown to Winter Solstice is anything but doom and gloom for Ely Astronomy Club

THE Autumnal Equinox occurred on Saturday, when the world stood upright on its axis and almost everyone on Earth enjoyed a day and night of equal length.

But from now until the Winter Solstice on December 21, the Earth’s northern axis will keep tilting away from the sun.

For all those living above the equator, this inevitably entails shorter days, longer nights and colder weather.

Yet it is by no means all doom and gloom. Indeed, quite the contrary, for the more celestially minded citizen who looks forward to this time of year.

For instance, you may well notice over the next couple of months that the southern half of the evening sky becomes increasingly dominated by an unusually bright star. This is, in fact, the giant gas planet Jupiter.

During the early morning there shines another incredibly bright star, even brighter than Jupiter. The ‘star’ will be particularly noticeable in early October until late November.

Yet it’s not a star, but Earth’s sister world Venus.

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If you happen to be taking a nocturnal stroll in mid-November, you may notice rather a lot of shooting stars. These are associated with the annual peak of the Leonid Meteor Shower, which takes place over the night of November 17-18.

Ely Astronomy Club meets on the second Friday of the month in the Vernon Cross Room, Ely Museum. Meetings commence at 7.30pm.