Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Venus without the trees.

Old garden - a small gap amongst the trees (due south)

In the front garden of our last home Venus was mostly hidden from view. Thanks to the nearby tall ash trees! 

Both Lucifer in the morning twilight, and Vesper in the evening were lost to me for the best part of fifteen years.

Those lovely trees were the bane of my Venus observing between 2001 and 2016.

We had owned a chainsaw for five of those years..!!
I know they weren't my trees!.... but still....such restraint... ha ha.

At our new home the light of Venus now shines directly through our kitchen window, not a tree* anywhere to spoil the show.

Tonight's view of Venus from kitchen window.... No nearby trees!

There are a few street lights to deal with, but the planets and Moon don't mind a bit of sodium light..... Plus all the streetlight go off at midnight.

Last night I took the "Jason" refractor out for a quick peek at Vesper.

All was not lost over this time, I did manage to put some observations in the astro logbook.

Here are a couple of Venus observations from my planetary log

Plus a few photographs taken under favourable conditions. 
(in other words, when not behind the ash trees!)

Over the rooftop of Gilbert's house. 2006

150mm/f8 refractor - 2008
Just visible above the buddleia bush... (Morning star - 2014)

From now on, with the extended viewing time from our new location, I will be able to make many more observations of this most wonderful of planets.

Transit Time
I can't resist showing my Venus transit pictures of June 8th 2004.

The sky that morning was perfect for observing, and with my telescope set up I was able to capture a decent set of 35mm photographs.

The images you see here have been processed in Photoshop.

The initial images were photographed using the solar projection method.

Initial 35mm image taken of solar projection.

Near the end of transit.

Photoshop image of transit.

Good job I managed to capture these transit pictures (plus the 2012 transit), I doubt I will be around to witness the next one in 2117 !!

Venus log entries 2017

Watching the changing face of Venus over the next couple of months will be fascinating.

I hope to log many observations in my astronomy diary.

Fingers crossed for Clear Skies.


*I know in this post I'm complaining about trees, the thing is I really love all trees...
Even the ones that pinch my starlight!

Sunday, 1 January 2017

Radio astronomy in Australia (1958)

It's that time of year when the clouds invariably fill the night skies, and all astronomy activity is put on hold!

My thoughts as usual turn to radio astronomy. 

Astronomy has always been my main hobby, but it is followed closely by my interest in the radio spectrum, especially the amateur (ham) and radio astronomy frequencies.

Thanks to the winter cloudy stuff, often at this time of year I'm unable to collect starlight with my telescopes, but collecting  cosmic radio waves through the clouds is no problem with the right radio receiver.

Recently I've been able to catch up with a couple of vintage radio/astronomy related programmes.

Good old YouTube..

This past month has been pretty clouded over, with the odd clear night allowing some beautiful views of Orion and friends.

Apart from a few quick glances of Venus through the 60mm refractor, I haven't taken the telescopes out at all this month!

Fingers crossed for some decent observing in January.....

Happy New Year and clear skies for 2017

Mark & Helen.

Friday, 14 October 2016

Chasing Orion's stellar nursery.

Wide awake 3.00 am... outside the stars were shining brightly.
I didn't want to disturb Helen, so I tried to get back to sleep.... no chance! 

I couldn't see Orion through the low south facing window,  but I knew he was there, hanging in the sky, just waiting for a chance to show off. 

I started thinking about the Orion nebula...

Here's a sketch that I made of the nebula... almost 10 years ago...!

Stellar Nursery M42 the Orion Nebula - 150mm Newtonian reflector. 2006

In those ten years I have observed the nebula through various instruments, from 40mm refractors to an 8 inch Schmidt Cassegrain.

This morning I would be able to observe with an even larger aperture.
I've been waiting since June to unleash "Oscar" our 12 inch Newtonian onto this most wonderful of stellar nurseries.

I lay in bed for maybe another ten minutes... I couldn't take it anymore, I had to go outside and start observing. 

Helen woke up about the same time, and was also eager to catch a glimpse of Orion's splendid star nursery.

Oscar & Mark

This morning's seeing was between Antoniadi II and III... best conditions for a long while.

Also the outside temperature was ideal for light clothing, and not a cloud to spoil the view.  

Within the next hour Helen and I managed to view the Orion nebula, the Crab nebula, Praesepe the beehive, all three star clusters (M36, M37, M38) in Auriga the Charioteer, plus Rigel and that brightest of star... Sirius.  

Also on the list was the Andromeda Galaxy M31, along with its companion galaxy M32.

Interestingly before the advent of large telescopes, the Andromeda galaxy was thought to be a nebula.!
I would have added M97 and M108 to the list, but Dave and Billa's house blocked the view!
The Orion nebula M42 deserves a further mention as it was the first time that Oscar had been let loose on this most splendid of winter objects.

Many astronomers see a faint greenish tinge to the nebula. Others mention a slight bluish tinge.
To my eyes the ethereal glow of the nebula was bluish grey.  

Surprisingly at the edges of the nebula I could just make out a tiny reddish tint..!

Did I see this colour or not..? Helen had a good look and also noted a slightly reddish tint. 

Preasepe the beehive (Messier 44)  was impressive. 

The Pleiades/M45 or "Seven sisters" turned into several dozen sisters through the 30mm ocular!

Sirius was bright to the point of being painful.
If you slightly defocus Sirius you will see a wonderful kaleidoscope of twinkling colour.  

With the 10mm eyepiece double star Rigel revealed its tiny blue companion really well.

Oscar put on a good show this morning, hopefully the first of many this season.

Clear Skies

Mark & Helen.

Monday, 10 October 2016

Exploring the Moon by Ernest H. Cherrington Jr.

 Time to catch up on some reading....... this book is brilliant.....

Beautiful book, lots of useful information about lunar crater,rilles and surface features etc.

 No fancy colour pictures or diagrams, just simple well labeled black and white images.

The book goes through each day of a complete lunation, with enough information to keep you busy for years to come...

You can dip into this book again and again.

 All Moon watcher should have a copy of this classic reference book. 

If you are a bit of a Lunatic... grab yourself a copy of this classic.

A definite keeper

Clear Lunar Skies