It’s in the stars, January 20 2018

Do you read your stars? Do you follow their advice and believe in their ability to predict the future? If so you’re into astrology, not astronomy.

LOOK UP: The Moon and Venus are the highlights of our night skies at the moment, with Mars a standout before sunrise.

LOOK UP: The Moon and Venus are the highlights of our night skies at the moment, with Mars a standout before sunrise.

A lot of people get these two terms mixed up.

Don’t worry if you do – it’s easy to do when you think that they both have their origins in the stars overhead.

Astronomy is a science that deals in factual observation, the study of the heavens and how we got here.

The two don’t readily get along. In fact they’re diametrically opposed in many ways.

Not many people realise this but astronomers don’t peer though telescopes anymore, it’s all done remotely from air conditioned rooms.

How times have changed!

Amateur astronomers on the other hand still haul their scopes out in to the sticks, often travelling for hours to find pristine dark skies.

“They know what’s up there and have been responsible for several important discoveries in the past few years,” said Dave Reneke from Australasian Science magazine.

“One day an amateur astronomer may be the first one to warn us of an approaching asteroid on a collision course with earth, if one’s out there.”

OK all you budding sky watchers, grab your telescopes.

What you’re about to read might give you an uncontrollable urge to dash outside.

Take a peek around before sunrise and look east, you’ll see brilliant red ‘starlike’ object blazing brightly above the horizon. That’s the red planet Mars!

It will continue beaming in the morning twilight till after all stars have been washed from the sky.

Grab your Smartphone, hold it steady and see what your pic looks like.

“If you miss it don’t sweat, it’ll still be there for a couple more weeks,” Dave said.

Standing outdoors, mesmerized by our amazing night sky on a warm summer’s night or early morning, you might just forget all about the political dramas going on for awhile. At least the stars make sense.

Only the full Moon and Venus are the brightest objects in the night sky this week.

Here’s a cool tip, go and download an amazing phone app called ‘Sky View’.

“It’s one of the most incredible things I’ve ever used in astronomy,” Dave said. “Simply point to anything in the night sky and it will tell you what it is. It’s incredibly easy to use.

“Ask and it will find planets, stars and constellations for you in a matter of moments, plus it’s got tons of interesting facts and figures on astronomy.”

Happy stargazing.