Sunday, 30 December 2012

Astronomy by Candlelight.. Happy New Year...

video

I do a have a red safelight in the observatory, but I find no reason to hook it up and use it...

The reason being...... I enjoy candlelight.....

The soft subdued glow of the naked flame imparts a feeling of warmth that no red safety light is able to do.

Also when my hands feel a bit cold, I move them for a while closer to the flame.

Now if I could also run my RA drive on mechanicals, be it a wind up clock, or maybe a falling weight, then that would be my perfect astronomy set up.


Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Sir Patrick Moore... you will be missed.


It was with much sadness on Sunday that I learnt of the passing of Sir Patrick Moore, CBE, FRS,FRAS.

Since the winter of 1976 Patrick Moore has been a constant companion on my astronomical journey.

I must have been about nine years old when I was first allowed to stay up late to watch the Sky at Night.

I was hooked from the first episode.

From the opening title music of Sibelius's At the Castle Gate...the simple studio props, the fascinating interviews, and especially the wonderful enthusiasm and eccentricity of Mr Moore....... how could I not be hooked.....

Often at the end of an episode Patrick would mention that a newsletter/factsheet was available.

To obtain this A4 information sheet,  you simply sent off a stamped addressed envelope to the BBC.

Whenever Patrick mentioned it was newsletter time, I couldn't get to a post office fast enough to send off my SAE....


Back in April of 2005 my wife, our son Jac and I were lucky enough to meet Patrick Moore, at his home in Selsey.

We could not have had a warmer welcome.

He gave me one of his books, which he signed..... a gift I will always cherish.

It was a day I will never forget.

RIP Sir Patrick Moore.




For Patrick......

Early this morning Helen and I set out to capture a shot of Mercury, Venus and the crescent Moon.

This is the one of the shots that was taken. It was a beautiful morning, with frost on the ground.


Thursday, 29 November 2012

Morning Star Mercury & Co, over Haverfordwest...

Early this morning I grabbed the Nikon D50, plus a small tripod and headed off for an astro adventure.

I decided to walk to the outskirts of our village to afford myself a better view of Mercury..

From our garden I have no chance of seeing Mercury if it's in the East; there are too many trees and especially too many houses barring any possible view...

After setting up the camera I was lucky enough to capture this image of all three planets.....  seconds later some passing clouds snuffed out Mercury's light.

Mercury-Venus-Saturn : 06h:49m 

I then moved to a better location, about 200 yards further along.....

Now I had an uninterrupted view towards the East.

The lights of Haverfordwest were twinkling in the distance.

Mercury was once again free of the clouds, and I witnessed a beautiful celestial display of all three planets.... plus my favourite named star... Zubenelgenubi.

Mercury-Zubenelgenubi-Venus-Saturn: 06h:56m UT

There were loads of clouds to the West, but luckily the East was fairly cloud free, at least in the parts of the sky that mattered to my observations....

Mercury over Haverfordwest  07:05 UT

Happy Mercury hunting....

Clear Skies

Mark

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Jupiter on my mind....plus echoes of Mr Herschel...

Afocal method
Last night I tried a bit of Afocal photography with my little Hitachi DZHV582E digicam.

I've had this little camera for about 18 months, and in that time I reckon it's been used practically everyday for one thing or another....  Mostly it's used to capture my solar pictures and videos.

If you ever see one of these little cameras.....grab it.... it's ideal for afocal photography.

Well worth the intial £40 I paid for it...

Capturing the Jovian Light...

I trained the Tal1 onto Jupiter and placed the 25mm plossl plus x3 Barlow in the focuser....

This gave me a magnification of x96, anymore and the image started to degrade...

I then simply placed the camera over the eyepiece and over exposed the shot to capture the Jovian moons

As many amateurs know, by exposing for the satellites I completely washed out any detail in the actual planet... As you can see in this picture....

Over Exposed
I then under exposed the next shot to capture the detail in the planet  as shown here...

Under Exposed
After some copy/paste and a bit of further tweaking, I managed to secure this final image....


Now that I've figured out the camera and photoshop settings, I will be able to log many more Jupiter images on this blog...


Musings on the perfect planetary reflector:

Jupiter has always been a difficult planet to view and photograph with my small Tal1 telescope...

But considering the size of the Tal1 main mirror (110mm) I'm not going to complain too much.

For many years I've wondered about making a small planetary-only reflector...

Much has been written about the merits of a 6 inch f12 spherical mirror reflector.

Many say this type of telescope would be ideal for planetary work.

Plus a spherical mirror would hopefully be easier to produce with these Welsh hands...

Mr Herschel's 6 .2 inch/f13 reflector
I've a mind to try making a 6 inch f12 reflector......


I've read that Sir William Herschel made, and favoured a 6.2 inch f13 reflector.......

If it was good enough for Mr Herschel...then it's good enough for me....   :0)



Clear Jupiter Skies everyone....

Mark



Friday, 12 October 2012

Mornings, Evenings and Messiers...




Venus and the crescent Moon looked stunning this morning....  


I really enjoy the early mornings of Pembrokeshire's October and November, they seem to have more than their fair share of clear skies. 

I've noticed that over the last six years;  no matter how bad the weather may be the night before,  there's a good chance of being cloud free in the hour just before the dawn.

Often in the months of October and November I have been lulled to sleep courtesy of a howling Atlantic South Westerly storm; only to wake at around 5.00 am to the sight of starlight.

Usually after about a hour the clouds roll in....... and once again the Atlantic bellows....

So for the next two months I will be looking for that early morning window of starlit opportunity...

Fingers crossed.....

This evening's viewing log:

I didn't expect the stars to be out tonight......  I was wrong....  :0)

Straight into the observatory...roll back the roof and time to chase a couple of Messiers.

I've been meaning to catalogue the Messier list, in a series of sketches. 

Tonight I was able to add two to the list....


M71 was first on the list,. it took me a little while to find it as I was distracted by nearby Gamma Delphinus. 

Gamma Delphinus is one of my favourites; a beautiful lemon and lime green double...well worth a look. 

Tonight though, the seeing wasn't up to much, and poor old Gamma Delphinus looked a bit washed out.  

In fact tonight's star views were pretty awful...  though the two globulars I sketched stood out quite well considering....



Two sketches completed, only another 107 to go....  !!!

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Deck Chairs, No Perseids, Owls and the ISS.

Perseus dancing on our rooftop
I recently bought two secondhand deckchairs.... the cost nearly broke the bank, 50p each..!!! 

They were bought solely for the purpose of Perseid watching.

So armed with my deck chairs, Nikon D50 camera/tripod, I hid myself away in the darkest corner of our garden away from the glare of two particularly annoying street lights.

After about ten minutes of looking towards Perseus, I realised that this view of the Northern sky reminded me of of the view from my Grandmother's back garden, some 35 years ago.

One of Mr Newton's prized possessions

I would often lie on my grandmother's garden bench and watch the stars as they wheeled their way around Polaris.

My trusted nightly companions were my Phillips planisphere and Patrick Moore's Observer's book of Astronomy.

I still have my original Planisphere, bought in 1977.
And after many years of good service it still gets used on the odd occassion.

Back then I used to spend hours out there in the months of July and August drinking in the cosmic wonder of the night sky.



Sitting on my new, "expensive" deck chairs, viewing the Perseids.

I  managed a few hours on Thursday/Friday, followed by an hour, early Saturday morning.

Thursday revealed three Perseids, and all three of them produced a glorious streak of white light as they cut across the darkened sky.  There was also a trace of electric blue colour in each of them.

Friday evening/ Saturday morning revealed no Perseids, but then, I was only outside for an hour.

In all I took about 40 photos, mostly around 15 seconds each, some at 30 seconds.

Not one single Perseid did I photographically capture...  !!!!

Doesn't matter...... I visually saw a few, and I was more than happy to be out in the warm August evening, taking in the glorious night sky, and talking to the owl in a nearby tree...


Although, Thursday evening, I did manage to capture the ISS as it passed overhead.

Looking West
Looking East
I did wave, but I don't think the astronauts saw me....  !!


Pondering with the naked eye.....

Over the last month or so, any astronomy time that I've had, has mostly been taken up with naked eye observing.

I have to say that even though I enjoy using the Tal1, plus the binoculars, my favourite method of astronomy has always been naked eye observing.

Give me a dark night, moonlit or not, a comfortable seat, and the Milky Way streaming overhead.....

Plus those familiar scintillating constellations.......

Along with the Wandering Planets, Aurorae, Meteors, Fireballs,

The Moon, Transits, Eclipses, Conjunctions.......

The list goes on.


So much to see.... so many celestial old friends to revisit.

And so many new friends yet to be discovered.

Clear Skies Everyone

Mark..

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Tonight's 87% Moon reveals the Moon Maiden...


On my bookshelf sits a small little blue book titled "Peeps at the Heavens"

This book was printed in 1911, by the Reverend James Baikie F.R.A.S

One of the highlights in "Peeps at the Heavens" has to be on page 41, where the Rev Baikie talks of the Moon Maiden ........ and I quote:

"But perhaps the most interesting of all the faces is that called the "Moon Maiden," which is shown in plate VIII. It can only be seen with the telescope, and only when the Sun happens to shine upon it in exactly the right way. 

I have only seen it twice myself in twenty- five years.; but perhaps some fine night you may get a chance to see  this face of the Moon Maiden, with her long hair floating behind her, looking out from the cape of the Bay of Rainbows across the Sea of Showers."

Plate VII  "The Moon Maiden"
Well tonight I managed to catch a glimpse of that most beautiful of maidens....


Tonight's Lunar viewing was timed just right, the clouds stayed away, and the gap in our tree line framed the 87% illuminated waxing Moon perfectly.

I quickly opened the side windows of the observatory, trained the Tal's finder onto the lunar orb, and focused the 15mm Kellner. 

I was greeted with very steady seeing, and many lunar features stood out beautifully.  

Oddly I noticed that Proclus's ejecta rays had a hint of rainbow colour in them, what would cause this I don't know..!

I then headed South.....

After a couple minutes of viewing Clavius and it's surrounding companions I moved again Northwards...towards the Sinus Iridum...and then I saw her... the Moon Maiden....!

She was unmistakeable,  as the Rev Blaikie said "looking out from the cape of the Bay of Rainbows across the Sea of Showers"

I managed to take some pictures and a small video for posterity. 

The images hint at the presence of the Moon Maiden, though the naked eye views where outstanding....

I enjoyed another five minutes of lunar gazing.... and then the dreaded clouds returned!!

The Moon Maiden.... looking out to sea....

video


As the Rev Blaikie mentions .... "I have only seen it twice myself in twenty- five years"

I wonder when I will see her again.... ?


Friday, 27 July 2012

Lawn astronomy, the Summer Triangle & Where's my Teapot.!

The Summer Skies..  
Thanks to the recent warmer weather (at last!!) Wednesday evening was perfect for some Lawn Astronomy.

Out came a blanket and a good sized cushion to prop my head against.

I made myself comfortable by lying on the warm garden path, and with my 7x50 binoculars beside me I began my tour of the Summer Triangle, and it's surrounding companions.

I spent a while bino viewing Deneb, though I was soon mesmerised by the bright lights of the surrounding star fields, it was time to venture along that Milky expanse....

It is always wonderful to see the Milky Way, ethereal and ghostly, as it snakes its way towards our Galactic Centre.

Last night's view of our Galaxy was particularly magical,  I spent ages just simply drinking in the galactic photons. They renergised my astro batteries beautifully.

As part of my astro tour, I stopped off at Aquila, and was able to capture Altair and it's companions of Tarazed and Alshain in the same field of view of the 7x50's.

Delphinus
Delphinus had not long unsnagged itself from the big tree at the end of our garden. The ugly little dolphin made a lovely binocular image...

Now it was time to see Collinder 399 the Coathanger asterism.  This little asterism is always worth a good long look....

Next stop M57, or what I thought might be M57..!

I know the 7x50's are pushing it, but I thought I caught a glimpse of that most wonderful of planetary nebulae....  but really I think my brain was filling in the astro gaps...!!

Vega: the harp star






Off then to Vega, what a beautiful star, so bright so white.

So lovely hanging there at the zenith, like the bright light atop a Christmas tree..




It was great to be actually observing again. The apalling weather these past few months has really tested the patience of many an astronomer in the county.

Due to the ever growing trees, this is the extent of my Southerly viewing.

I can 't believe that July is nearly over, and that I still haven't seen the Teapot this year.

I really wanted to see the Teapot from our garden, but as you can see from the above picture, I have no chance...!!!  it's sadly lost somewhere in the neighbouring trees...

I'll just have to go astro-mobile one night soon and catch me that Teapot......

Maybe it's time to grab the tent and go for a nighttime walkabout up on the Preseli Hills of Pembrokeshire.....

Fingers crossed for more of this wonderful weather....

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Venus Transit as viewed by Mr & Mrs Pembs...

June the 5th 11.00 pm  First Contact via Hawaii.........

Both Helen and I were looking forward to seeing the transit, but due to cloud cover, Pembrokeshire was wrapped in a thick blanket of the grey stuff...  

Also our part of the planet was badly placed for the beginning of the event, so we watched First Contact via the webcam at the Mauna Loa Observatory Exploratorium

Fascinating imagery and the background music and narration were almost hypnotic...  

Thank you to all at the Mauna Loa Observatory for putting on the Live show....


Up at 04:15am - Off to find the Transit Show.....

Looking Southward...
The alarm went off at 04:15. Outside the grey clouds were still smothering the Pembrokeshire skies.
Helen and I got on the motorbike and went out looking for some hopeful gaps in the early morning sky.

We drove maybe two miles, and yes the clouds were beginning to thin...but still no clearing in the East.....however there was a lovely early morning blue sky towards the South...  so frustrating!

We could easily see the beautiful gibbous waning Moon, but from the South West right round to the South East nothing but cloud...   

We drove on.....  passing through the ghost town of Haverfordwest; no cars passed us, no people on the streets. only the occasional cat and a lone fox to greet us on this most glorious morning.....

We reached the local golf course some two miles out of town, only to notice that there was now cloud cover for a full 360 degrees..... 

It looked as if we had little chance of viewing the transit....

We decided to make our way slowly back and watch the Third/Fourth Contact via the internet....

05:27am We were about three miles from home, and noticed a possible break in the clouds... 

Quickly the bike was parked..... then we set up the camera and homemade solar filter ready for some Transit pictures....  
05:27am  Looking North - East

We waited a couple of minutes, but soon realised we were being teased by the Pembrokeshire clouds.....  !!

Interestingly, where we parked was close to a pub called "The Rising Sun". Pity it wasn't called the "The Clear Skies Rising Sun"  ...  :0)

Back on the bike to head off home.....

05:36am That's when we had a bit of good luck. About a mile into our homeward journey the Sun winked at us from behind the darkened clouds.....  

05:36am
Again I quickly parked the bike, brought out the camera and solar filter, climbed up onto a hedge, and we were greeted with the Sun's happy disc, shining brightly.....and waited...... 


05:48am After some anxious cloud watching, and the odd look by the occasional motorist, the Pembrokeshire Hedge Dwelling Astronomers Society were finally awarded a ONE MINUTE window of Transit viewing.....

Just enough time to capture Venus before Fourth Contact...

05:48am 
Goodbye Venus...

05.50am Helen and I were dancing on the hedge and shouting Yahoo!!!!!.... 

We literally had ONE MINUTE of viewing,  BUT....that one minute was TOTALLY worth it......

05:50am
Back in 2004 I had an uninterrupted view of the Transit. At the moment of Fourth Contact that day, I remember saying to Venus "Thank You Venus...hope to see you at the next one in 2012"  

Thankfully I was able to do that, albeit briefly ......

Yesterday, once again, I said goodbye to Venus, but this time there was no "see you at the next one".

The Venus Transits of 2004/12 truly have been a once in a lifetime event......

In the words of  Jeremiah_Horrocks

Thy return posterity shall witness;
Years must roll away,
But then at length the splendid sight
Again shall greet our distant children’s eyes

Monday, 14 May 2012

Venus Transit 2004 .. I found another picture.

Goodbye Venus ..See you in 2012
Yesterday I was looking through one of my old astronomy log books, and I found the above picture.

I've always thought I had just the one picture of the 2004 Venus Transit....It looks like I was wrong...  :0)


Time to attack it with Macintosh software........

After a bit of photo manipulation using iPhoto...
I managed to obtain the following image...



Hidden in a drawer, I have some video footage of the 2004 transit. In total I think I have the last 15 minutes of the transit.  

If I convert this footage from analogue to digital I will be able to exam more closely the individual frames..

It seems yesterday morning I had one photo of the 2004 transit....  this morning I now thankfully have two....  If the video footage can be transferred to the computer ...

I'll hopefully have a lot more images of the event to look through....


Fingers crossed that the video footage is salvageable....  :0)

Venus Transit 2004.

Goodbye Venus ..See you in 2012
Yesterday I was looking through one of my old astronomy log books, and I found the above picture.

I've always thought I had just the one picture of the 2004 Venus Transit....It looks like I was wrong...  :0)


Time to attack it with Macintosh software........

After a bit of photo manipulation using iPhoto...
I managed to obtain the following image...



Hidden in a drawer, I have some video footage of the 2004 transit. In total I think I have the last 15 minutes of the transit.  

If I convert this footage from analogue to digital I will be able to exam more closely the individual frames..

It seems yesterday morning I had one photo of the 2004 transit....  this morning I now thankfully have two....  If the video footage can be transferred to the computer ...

I'll hopefully have a lot more images of the event to look through....


Fingers crossed that the video footage is salvageable....  :0)

Friday, 11 May 2012

Waiting for the evening star....

Tal1 patiently waiting to snag the evening star
The back garden doesn't get used that often for astronomical observing, it's a pity as it affords some lovely views of the setting inferior planets .

Tonight though it was time for the Tal1 to be let loose on Venus. 

I simply parked up the scope and waited for the night to draw in...

About an hour later the sky was still blue, but Venus shone brightly......
......time to put the Tal into  action....

Firstly I took this image with just the 25mm plossl and the zoom on my digicam:

Afocal image.. with simple digicam
Then I connected our Nikon D50 via a camera adapter to the Tal's focuser using the prime focus method...

It took a few attempts to capture a decent image, but finally I managed the following image.
Nikon D50 prime focus plus x3 Barlow
Not the best shot in the world, but at least it gave me a record of the current Venusian phase...

It was a beautiful evening, the seeing was Antoniadi II but I would guess sometimes the clarity hinted at maybe an Antonadi of I........  the best seeing for many months I reckon....

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Astronomy and Poetry go hand in hand...


Camille Flammarion
All astronomers are poets of that I am sure...

You can't help but feel the calling of the poet, once you've gazed upon the night skies....

To better emphasize my point, I often mention one of my favourite astronomers....  Camille Flammarion.

I was first introduced to Mr Flammarion some 10 years ago when I purchased a small book of his in a local charity shop....

The manager of the Charity shop, knowing how nuts I was about astronomy, kept the book to one side for me.

I'm glad she did..after a quick browse I was immediately drawn into the world of this wonderful French astronomer... 

The book was "Astronomy for Amateurs"

Who could not be captivated by the opening paragraph...

"The Science of Astronomy is sublime and beautiful. Noble, elevating, consoling, divine, it gives us wings, and bears us through Infinitude. In these ethereal regions all is pure, luminous, and splendid. Dreams of the Ideal, even of the Inaccessible, weave their subtle spells upon us. The imagination soars aloft, and aspires to the sources of Eternal Beauty"

Much more was to follow........

"The crimson disk of the Sun has plunged beneath the Ocean. The sea has decked itself with the burning colors of the orb, reflected from the Heavens in a mirror of turquoise and emerald. The rolling waves are gold and silver, and break noisily on a shore already darkened by the disappearance of the celestial luminary"

"If you will yield yourselves to the pleasure of gazing upon the sparkling fires of Space, you will never regret the moments passed all too rapidly in the contemplation of the Heavens"

Nicolas Camille Flammarion was born in 1842 at Montigny-le-Roi in the department of Haute Marne, France. 

At the age of 16, in 1858, he wrote a 500-page manuscript, Cosmologie Universelle, and became an assistant of Le Verrier at the Paris Observatory. 

From 1862 to 1867, he temporarily worked at the Bureau of Longitudes. 

Camille was the author of more than 50 books, he did much to popularise astronomy....more than anyone at the time I reckon...

His writing has been described as eccentric, i.e he thought there was superior intelligent life on Mars, and that comets possibly contained toxic gases that would extinguish life on our planet.... etc 

But after reading the work of some of his contemporaries, it seems many people were sure that Mars was inhabited, and that Selenites roamed the Moon, and many thought comets were full of toxic gas.

Yes truly eccentric maybe.....

I have no problem with eccentricity.... the mark of a true amateur astronomer as far as I see it...

Observatory at Juvisy

In 1883 he set up his own private observatory at Juvisy (near Paris).
 From here he continued studies of double/multiple stars, the Moon and Mars...

More words by Camille:  from  Astronomy for Amateurs

Hail, vast Sun! a little star in Infinitude, but for us a colossal and portentous luminary. Hail, divine Benefactor! How should we not adore, when we owe him the glow of the warm and cheery days of summer, the gentle caresses by which his rays touch the undulating ears, and gild them with the touch? The Sun sustains our globe in Space, and keeps it within his rays by the mysteriously powerful and delicate cords of attraction. It is the Sun that we inhale from the embalmed corollas of the flowers that uplift their gracious heads toward his light, and reflect his splendors back to us. 
In 1919, Camille married his second wife Gabrielle Renaudot 1876–1962) and for six years they worked side by side to promote astronomy in France. 

After Camille died in 1925, Gabrielle continued to maintain Juvisy Observatory. 

She is buried next to her husband in the observatory park.

I'm not able to do justice to the astronomer Camille Flammarion in this short blog post. All I can say is, if you like poetry and are fascinated by the night skies, grab yourself one of his books........   you won't be disappointed  ....

Of all the astronomers of yesteryear, Camille Flammarion to my mind highlights the poetry of the stars that many amateur astronomers undoubtedly experience..


The final words go to Camille:

"Let us suppose that we inhabit a planet illuminated by two suns, one blue, the other red.
It is morning. The sapphire sun climbs slowly up the Heavens, coloring the atmosphere with a somber and almost melancholy hue. The blue disk attains the zenith, and is beginning its descent toward the West, when the East lights up with the flames of a scarlet sun, which in its turn ascends the heights of the firmament. The West is plunged in the penumbra of the rays of the blue sun, while the East is illuminated with the purple and burning rays of the ruby orb"

Friday, 13 April 2012

Unfold the Stars.... Hello to warmer weather...

An old photo of Orion
Tonight Helen and I set up our small wood burning stove out in the garden, and lit a fire.

The hot plate on the stove had a small saucepan of water gently simmering....

......Sitting around a campfire without a cup of tea...!!!! ............. Unthinkable!!

The object of lighting the stove was to simply sit under the stars with our feet warming by an open fire.....

All we had to do now was wait for the night to unfold.....

Venus was first up followed by an aerial display courtesy of our local bats....

Procyon was spotted of to the South West....Castor and Pollux followed shortly afterwards, and Capella was high up to the West...nudging slightly to the North....

Aldebaran decided to make an appearance a little later, no doubt this bright orange beauty was until now lost in the lovely Pembrokeshire twilight still much in evidence...

Jupiter soon disappeared behind the ridge of a neighbouring house..

It isn't that often that we get to sit in the garden and watch the stars unfold, often the weather is cold, it's raining, or the dreaded clouds park themselves overhead.

But tonight the skies were kind...

For me, seeing the V of Taurus and the Pleiades as they dip into the West, washed out as they are in the   evening twilight, signifies a whisper of the Summer ahead..


The next time I see the Pleiades in the East it will be time to put on the extra layers of clothing...but for now it's a welcome five months of possibly good weather...!!!

Also, from now on it's Lawn Astronomy season...

I'll soon be lying on my favourite bit of ground, and just simply staring up at the night sky.....

One hour of Lawn Astronomy I reckon, is equal to a week's holiday...

Saturn..

Later in the evening I slid the roof back on the observatory, and trained the Tal onto Saturn.

Saturn did not disappoint.... I could clearly make out the Cassini Division and some banding was evident in the North Temperate Zone.. to my eye the banding appeared to be slightly grey in colour.

Both A & B rings seemed to be of equal intensity.

I'm looking forward to sketching more images of this gas giant as the weeks go by.....

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Mars Mars and Mars again....plus Ladder Astronomy

"It was a most clear and frosty night, enough to make Mark haul out the telescope... and it was so worth it. 
He saw the dales and vales and snow caps of Mars..... " 
From the journal of Mrs Pembs  25th January 2010


I make no apology for droning on about Mars...now is the time to drag out those telescopes and feast your eyes on the wonderful world we call Mars...

Observing Mars has dominated all my astronomy spare time of late, and for good reason.

The planet Mars is currently at opposition, and as such it will allow us our best chance of viewing Mars for the next 40 or so days...after that time...as far as good viewing is concerned, Mars and our planet Earth say goodbye to each other for another 2 years .

My attempts at photography:  What can I say  !!!!!


As you can see from these photos, my Martian photography skills leave a lot to be desired... :0)

I tried to connect our Nikon D50 via a x3 Barlow to the eyepiece holder of the Tal.....

It didn't take me long to realise why so many people use webcams and Registax software...


No way was I going to capture a Martian photo...Time to rethink....!!

I quickly decided to have a go at sketching.....


This is infinitely more interesting....  I simply use the Tal combined with the x3 Barlow and the 15mm Tal Kellner.

So far over the last couple of weeks I have only been able to sketch a few drawings....  

I then scan these initial drawings into PaintShop Pro and go to work on them digitally until I arrive at a fair representation of what I've seen..

Then I try to make it all look presentable...  :0)


So far this is the sum of my Martian observing.....







Ladder Astronomy.


Here in Simpson Cross many of the good observations of Mercury have been lost to me because of all the neighbouring houses getting in the way......

Last night I had a brainwave...!!!!  Use the ladder and climb up above the roof tops.........

It worked  :0)  

From the top of our ladder I could plainly see Mercury......  along with brilliant Jupiter and Venus..


Because of the neighbour's roof tops getting in the way, I reckon I haven't seen Mercury for at least the last three years.

Thanks to a bit of "Ladder Astronomy"  that's no longer a problem..