The clocks have now changed making the evenings darker earlier, so you do not have to stay up quite so late to see the night sky.

The clocks have now changed making the evenings darker earlier, so you do not have to stay up quite so late to see the night sky.

The Moon is the easiest heavenly body to observe for the amateur astronomer. With the naked eye you can see dark patches (mares or seas), with binoculars some of the larger craters and with a small telescope rifts, mountains and rays radiating from craters. It is now over 40 years since Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin set foot on the surface of the Moon, and they are two of only twelve men to have done so. NASA has just launched a new rocket Ares 1- X from Florida marking what is thought to be NASA's renewed interest in possible manned travel to the Moon.

This year we have what is commonly known as a Blue Moon in December - This term is used to describe the second Full Moon within one calendar month. In the past, however, a Blue Moon was an extra "moon" within a season. Instead of three moons per season, if an extra one appeared, the fourth full moon was known as a Blue Moon. Hence the term "Once in a Blue Moon". There are also many other names for full moons throughout the year, including Harvest Moon, Blood Moon, Egg Moon, Frost Moon and Wolf Moon.

2009 is the International Year of Astronomy and our astronomical society has held a number of events in conjunction with the Exmoor National Park Authority, who have been campaigning for Dark Sky Status on the moor. We have just held an Autumn Moonwatch at the Pinkery Centre on Exmoor and our next event is the Geminid Meteor watch to be held on December 12, at the Sportsman Inn,at Sandyway, at 8pm. Everyone is welcome, but do come along to our next meeting on December 2 if you possibly can, where you can find out more about all events in which we are involved.

MoonNew - November 16

1st Quarter - November 24

Full - November 2

Last Quarter - November 9

MercuryNot visible

VenusVisible low in the Eastern Morning Sky

MarsRises at 11pm and passes through M44 the Beehive Cluster in Cancer

JupiterEasily visible in the South Western sky

SaturnVisible in the morning twilight sky by the end of the month

The North Devon Astronomical Society meet the first Wednesday of every month at 7.45pm at the Methodist Church Hall, Rhododendron Avenue, Sticklepath, Barnstaple. Contact Mark Buckingham at mwbuckingham@tiscali.co.uk