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Patrick and his Planets
Patrick writing to his family back home

Patrick Paeck is a young astronomer who is very interested in observing planets. He likes to make best use of his observing sessions by planning them thoroughly. Unfortunately, this means he spends most of his spare time planning and has very little time left for observing.

Patrick has kindly agreed to put his planning to good use by writing a daily visible planets briefing for fans of the LAS website.

Patrick won't say which part of Britain his calculations are based on, but we believe they are centered on a small town a little way north of London that reminds him of his home far away. Therefore this column should be valid for the best part of England and Wales.

Local midnight varies in time each day in the same way that the "Equation of Time" correction noted on good sundials modifies the sundial time to match clock time. In the summer, local midnight occurs about one a.m. BST because clocks are put forward an hour.

Our friends in the west country and Wales will find that things happen several minutes later than noted here. Plymouth and Swansea will be a full sixteen minutes later and Falmouth twenty minutes. Birmingham will be just eight minutes later. Those in the south-east of England may find things happen just a few minutes earlier. Residents of northern France, Belgium and Netherlands should find the brief works quite well, but once again timings will vary with Longitude.

Patrick would like everyone to know that he is very grateful to his brother Josef for help in compiling the planets brief, especially the book of mathematical techniques for astronomers. A fresh planets brief is written every day. The brief changes very little from day to day as the planets move very slowly.

LAS Virtual Orrery
LAS Virtual Orrery - Tap for Details

The orrerys on this page and the planets page show the positions of the planets in their orbits each day. As with real orrerys the orbits are not to scale and are circular not elliptical. However the methods used to calculate their positions take into account the actual orbital distances and their elliptical orbits. In some cases the gravitational effects of one planet on another are also taken into account.

Patrick would love a nice traditional brass orrery like the one shown here. Unfortunately his salary and student loan repayments do not allow him to commission one.