A HAPPY New Year to all 'Eyes on the Skies’ readers and what a year 2015 promises to be for the 'sky watchers’ among us!

Perhaps most spectacularly, in March we will be treated to a solar eclipse. From here in Scotland the moon will cover 85-95% of the sun’s disk, producing what will be the most complete eclipse visible to us in this area for at least a century.

In September the tables are turned so to speak and the Earth casts its shadow onto the moon for a total lunar eclipse. These occur more frequently than solar eclipses, but are exciting events to witness nonetheless.

Human exploration of our solar system continues after the dramatic success of the Rosetta mission last November. In April, NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will enter orbit around dwarf planet Ceres, the largest object in the asteroid belt. Ceres looks to be a fascinating world in its own right. Does it possess water ice? Active geology? Moons of its own? All will hopefully be revealed!

In July, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft will fly less than 14,000 kilometres from the surface of another dwarf planet, Pluto. New Horizons will have been travelling for nine years to give us our first proper view of this cold, distant and mysterious world.

To start the year off in style there are a couple of objects in the sky worth searching for. The easier of the two is Jupiter, largest of our neighbouring planets, which is shining like a beacon in the night sky just now. Look just to the right of the 'sickle’ or 'reversed questionmark’ pattern of stars in the constellation of Leo, which will be easily visible by 10pm. A good pair of binoculars will reveal the larger moons of Jupiter strung around it like a chain of stars. A small telescope will start to show detail on the planet surface, such as the cloud belts and the Great Red Spot.

Finally, with comets all the rage at the moment after the Rosetta mission, there’s one in our skies just now which you might be able to spot. Comet 2014 Q2 Lovejoy is gradually moving up through our skies during the course of January. By the middle of the month, when the Moon is out of the way, it may well be visible to the naked eye, but certainly with small binoculars as it passes to the right of the beautiful star cluster the Pleiades. It will probably appear as a hazy grey/green blob due to the effects of the sun’s UV rays on its gases.

In many cases you don’t need to have a lot of sophisticated equipment to take beautiful images of the sky.

If you have a camera and a tripod why not try to capture some of the objects and events happening in our skies for yourself. It’s hugely rewarding and we’d love to see the results.

For its January meeting, Tweeddale Astronomical Society is delighted to be joined by James Green from outreach company Cosmos Planetarium LLC, who will be giving a presentation entitled 'Seven Wonders of the Universe’.

There will also be some impressive telescopes on display. This meeting takes place on Tuesday, January 20 at the Eastgate Theatre, Peebles, starting at 7.30pm. Do join us if you have an interest in space or the night sky.

You can currently follow the activities of the society on its Facebook page, www.facebook.com/peeblesastro.

Until next month, look up and 'Clear Skies!’ Dr Tom Johnston Tweeddale Astronomical Society