Monday, 14 October 2013

Early morning Jupiter & Daylight Astronomy.

The skies were cloud free at 5.00 oclock, I decided to grab the C8 and does some observing, with perhaps a bit of astrophotography.

Jupiter was a splendid object, very bright in the 20mm erfle eyepiece.

All four Galilean moon were easily spotted.

With the 9mm eyepiece in place the planet's North and South Equatorial belts stood out easily.

The North and South Temperate belts were not that noticeable, the seeing wasn't as good as I had expected.

The North and South Polar Regions were visible, the South was noticeably the brighter of the two.

Here is this morning's quick sketch:

As the night turned to day I tried a bit of daylight Jupiter observing....

The image detail of the planet in broad daylight was slightly better..... I took a few shots...

Clear Jupiter Skies 


Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Mare Nectaris in a cloudy Sky.

Early this evening the clouds cleared long enough for me to capture a few images of Selene.

I'm still working my way around using my C8 Celestron as an imaging platform. 

The above lunar picture is my first attempt at astro imaging with a Schmidt Cassegrain telescope.

Trying to focus the DSLR in conjunction with the C8 can be a bit of a pain, but I'm slowly getting the hang of it.

With any luck later this evening I hope to try imaging something outside of our Galaxy...!!!!!

"Imaging something outside of our Galaxy"....!!!!! not that many years ago such a sentence would have been considered pure science fiction.....!!!!

Fingers crossed for a clear evening 


Sunday, 8 September 2013

Waiting for the lunar shadows.

Today's Sol image....

Apart from this morning's very quick solar observation, I haven't been able to do any decent daytime/night time observing for several days. 

Not many sunspots today..only region 1838 visible from my observatory, and even that wasn't showing much detail. 

Often I find the seeing conditions from my location can interfere with solar detail.

If the last two years of solar observing are anything to go buy,  my best chance of clear sunspot viewing will  be this November.

Waiting for the lunar shadows.

With any luck I'll be spending my observing time this month spying the lunar surface for crater shadows; specifically in and around Plato.

It will also be great to catch up with one of my favourites, Gassendi.

I haven't sketched the Moon since last January, so it's time to drag out the sketch book.

I'm itching to try some sketching, particularly those  aforementioned shadows of Plato.

Fingers crossed for this current lunation.

Clear lunar sketching skies


Saturday, 24 August 2013

Poor seeing and naked eye Faculae... Tal2 Vs Tal1.

This morning's solar image taken with the Tal2 reflector.

Not much photographic detail I'm afraid.

The atmosphere wasn't in a cooperative mood, although the naked eye view did reveal the presence of faculae detail around active regions 1820 & 1830.

There was also faculae detail to be found some 180 degrees further around the solar limb.

Considering today's poor seeing, I was pleasantly surprised at how well the faculae stood out.

Tal2 6 inch f8 Newtonian
 Solar imaging...... Tal2 verses Tal1....!

These past few months most of my solar images have been taken with the Tal2 Newtonian. 

But is the Tal2 the best scope for solar imaging..?

Tal2 is delivering some lovely views of the night sky, but I'm not sure its up to scratch for day sky imaging. 

Often I blame the seeing for the lack of solar detail, but maybe my choice of scope is not helping.

My 4.5 inch Tal1 reflector over the past two years, has consistently returned some lovely solar images.

I'll very soon have to wheel out Tal1 to make some comparisons...

Below is an image taken with Tal1..... just over a year ago:

Taken with: Tal1 4.5 inch f7.3 reflector

 The Faculae can clearly be seen in this photograph.

Maybe Tal1 is better, compared to Tal2 for solar imaging, or maybe it's just simply down to the atmospheric conditions... !

I'll have to keep experimenting ......

Clear Skies


Thursday, 15 August 2013

Garden Shed Astronomy, Perseids, Streetlights.

Thanks to the mild weather of July and most of August, Helen and I have spent most of our evenings observing the stars from the comfort of our garden shed.

The only astronomical equipment I have used these past six weeks, apart from a few quick peeks with Tal2, has been my sleeping bag.

Simply lying in the shed with my head stuck out the door entrance has been a welcome change. It must be about six years since we were last able to sleep outside for extended periods.

At the start of July it was interesting to note that Vega around midnight was somewhat East of the zenith, whilst now around midnight some five weeks later, it has noticeably passed the zenith and is making its way Westward.

As a child, at this time of year I would spend many an evening on my parent's farm, lying in a field and watching the stars pass by.

Alternatively I would be found in my grandmother's garden lying on the garden bench, stargazing till the early hours... often I would fall asleep..!

I really enjoy using my telescopes and binoculars and cameras, but nothing beats those extended periods of simply lying under the stars and looking up.

If I had the choice of only one astronomical instrument it would be the sleeping bag, and a clear night to view by.

The Perseid Shower.   

The rising Pleiades heralds the Autumn nights

I tried to capture a Perseid meteor with our camera, but unfortunately those little spots of space dust had different ideas.

Several meteors were seen, but unfortunately none made it to the camera's sensor.....!!

Never mind.........  I decided to put away the camera and retire to the comfort of the sleeping bag.

The Perseids seemed much faster this year. Out of the dozen or so I observed, only one was around first magnitude, the rest seemed to average about third magnitude.

No Streetlights

As you can see in the above pictures, Pembrokeshire has started to switch off it's streetlights..... 

For someone used to the darkness of the countryside, these past 12 years have been really frustrating.

Many an observing session has been cut short due to the glow of the nearby lights....!!!!

But thankfully now, on most nights after midnight, I can once again enjoy the night skies without the pallid sodium glow of those blasted streetlights....!

I understand completely the need for lighting in key areas, but most of those we have in this county are not needed, and cost far too much money to justify their continued use.

I now see the Pleiades once again rising in the early morning;  a sight I have been unable to see properly from our front garden in all the time we have lived here.. !

I get to see the Eastern skies again, and our county saves about £200,000 per annum on the electricity bill.

Clear Skies


Monday, 22 July 2013

The Sun walks the Preselis..

From our house the month of July is the perfect time to observe the Sun as it rises out of the Preseli Hills..

This past week or so, I have been fortunate enough to witness several of these wonderful events..

From my astro log: July 17th 2013
My vantage point was our North facing kitchen window...   a perfect spot to wait for the Sun, and also importantly I was very close to the kettle... ! Any excuse for a cup of tea... !

I waited patiently for that first glint...

It wasn't long before Sol was racing skywards.......


The Sun walks the Preselis.

From day to day it's surprising how fast the Sun moves along the horizon.

The varying contours of the distant Preseli Hills clearly mark the daily renewal of sunrise positions.

From observations I took on the 17th, 18th and 21st of this month you can clearly trace the speeding path of Sol...

I'm not sure how long it will be before the Sun disappears behind the neighbouring rooftops, but I'm hoping to capture a few more Preseli Hill Sunrises before that time.....

Clear Solar Skies


Friday, 19 July 2013

Today's hot solar image......

At the moment it's too hot to write up a blog post. 

I think my brain has finally melted with all this glorious heat we've been having.... :0)

Long may the heatwave continue.....

I'll just let today's solar images do all the talking for me...

Clear Sunny Skies


Monday, 15 July 2013

Flying across the Moon.

Tal2 had no chance of spying the Moon tonight..... once again hidden by my neighbour's trees...

Though from our back door I had a clear view of the Moon, albeit a brief one.

Due to the high trees and the low Moon I had maybe 20 minutes of possible observing time.

I decided to set up my tiny 40mm refractor.

Considering it only has an objective glass of 40mm aperture, it does show a fair bit of lunar detail.

From tonight's lunar log book I note.......along the terminator, and close by:

Flammarion, Herschel, Halley, Hind, Ptolemaeus, Alphonsus, Arzachel, Purbach, Walter.

Flammarion wasn't that distinct , but Herschel was an inky black pit with it's west wall lit up like a thin waning crescent moon.

I then flew over to have a quick look at Hercules and Atlas.... Hercules exhibited a bright central region, but the 40mm aperture did not reveal much else, Atlas was outlined well.

On the southwestern border of Mare Serenitatis (Montes Haemus) I spotted Menelaus plus a little further clockwise along the Montes, the crater Sulpicius Gallus was visible.

At least I think it was Sulpicius Gallus.... the 40mm aperture was struggling a bit..... I'll have to verify that one another night with Tal2..

Then just before the Moon sank into my neighbour's trees I quickly flew westward for a last look along the terminator.....

Goodnight lovely Luna...see you tomorrow night ...  :0)

Clear Skies


Friday, 12 July 2013

Crescent Moon & Sleeping under the Stars..

After a few days of looking and waiting,  I've finally spotted the July crescent Moon.

Due to the location of this evening's Moon, I couldn't use Tal2 for observing.

I decided to give the 40mm refractor a chance at capturing some lunar light... 

The little scope performed admirably, and delivered some lovely views.

The weather in Pembrokeshire is still beautiful, so to take full advantage of it, Helen and I have been  sleeping outside under the stars.... !

These past three nights we've had the studio shed doors open, and we are both inside on the floor in sleeping bags.

Our heads are sticking out of the doorway, which affords us a spectacular view of the night sky..

Last night, at about 1p.m. we were disturbed by something lurking in the hedgerow, it turned out to be a hedgehog... a very noisy hedgehog...!!  

Maybe he will be back again tonight to disturb our peace...I do hope so...!  :0)

Clear Summer skies


Monday, 8 July 2013

Straw hats and Sol Sketching... July 8th 2013

The skies are blue in Pembrokeshire...... the Sun and I have definitely got our hats on today... !

One of the advantages of working from home is that I can always spare a bit of time to grab a solar image.  

This morning I managed the following Sol image...

Due to the air turbulence I had difficulty capturing a decent close up of AR1785.

I decided that as AR1785 was such a beauty I would try and attempt a sketch...

The initial sketch doesn't really show the turbulence I was witnessing, so Photoshop came to the rescue and  I was able to create an image more in keeping with the eyepiece view...

Clear Sol Skies

Mark....  :0)

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

All about the Sun........

Early this morning I was getting myself a glass of water from the kitchen.

I looked out the window, and suspended in the morning mist was one of the most beautiful sunrises that I've seen in a very long time.

This photo doesn't do it justice.......  the Sun was a glorious shade of orange....

Pembrokeshire excelled herself this morning.....

It looked as if the sun was caught on the nearby electrical power lines....

Here's a close up....

I was hoping to maybe catch a glimpse of active regions 1777 or 1775,  but nothing was seen..

Taken with the help of Tal1, later in the day, I managed the following Solar picture .... 

I've yet to see the Noctilucent Clouds this year, I haven't seen a good NLC display since July 2009.

The Moon has lately been hiding in the trees at the end of the garden.

Plus the light nights have cut back my night time observing..

June and July are indeed ... All about the Sun....

Though I have no complaints about that......  :0)

Clear Solar Skies


Tuesday, 18 June 2013

SOL.....obscured by sea mist..! Leviathans & NLC's.

Today's solar picture, much obscured by sea mist....  

It's a pity I couldn't capture more detail of old Sol today.....  this picture was the best of a very bad lot...  never mind there's always tomorrow....  :0)

Saturn has finally disappeared behind some rather large ash trees at the end of my neighbour's garden....  BUT in two days time those ash trees are being cut down... 

Maybe Saturn isn't lost to me just yet...  I'll find out Thursday evening...  :0)

Not much astro activity at the moment, these past few evenings have been spent spying the waxing moon and glimpsing the odd double star through my powerful 40mm refractor. 

It's such a small scope, but it's fascinating to see how much of the night sky it can reveal...  

Here's an afocal image of the moon a few nights ago.... taken with the tiny 40mm refractor.

Afocal image: 40mm "Leviathan" refractor.

Still no Noctilucent cloud sightings....  but plenty of time left for spotting them...  it helps that the street lights to the North of our property now switch off after midnight. 

The picture below was taken a couple of evenings ago, at about 11.30pm. You could easily be fooled into thinking it was 11.30 am !!!  

Thanks to the streetlight switch off, I now stand a better chance of seeing those beautiful ethereal NLC's

Clear Skies 

Mark....  :0)

Sunday, 9 June 2013

The pale night skies of Summer.

Noctilucent Clouds above the observatory...?

Due to short nights of Summer, over the next couple of months my astronomy time will mostly be taken up with chasing Noctilucent Clouds, observations of Sol, and the sketching of the Moon.

Though there is always time to say hello to the countless double stars, meteors, globulars.... and more...!!!  :0)

Observing the pale night skies of Summer on a balmy evening....  perfect...!

Today's Solar image, taken with Tal2:

Clear Summer Skies 


Friday, 7 June 2013

From the Harp to the Small Bear.

The weather this week has been wonderful, with blue skies every day so far... and what's more some lovely clear skies in the evening...

Monday the 3rd was one of those glorious warm summery evenings. We haven't had that many warm evenings in Pembrokeshire over the last few years, so I took full advantage of this one.

As the stars slowly switched on I spotted Vega over towards the East.....

I've been meaning to pay Lyra a visit these past few weeks... tonight was my first real opportunity.

Time to unleash the Tal2...

Firstly Vega, beautiful as ever, with classic diffraction spikes and a crystal clear white colouring.

Next Beta Lyrae "Sheliak",  primary white and secondary bluish grey. 

Gamma "Sulaphat" was noticeably brighter than Sheliak.

Epsilon Lyra (Double Double) easily seen at high magnification. 

The seeing wasn't that good tonight, plus the Tal2 was out of collimation as can can be seen from this photo I took. 

Tal1 so far gives the better view of the double double.

M57 a beautiful greyish colour in the Tal2. Great views with the 42mm and 25mm eyepieces. Averted vision was needed to draw out the distinctive oval shape.

No sighting of M56, but nearby Albireo looked stunning in the 42mm eyepiece. Yellow primary with a piercing French ultramarine blue secondary.

Moved on to M13 in Hercules,  the globular looked amazing in the 42mm and the 25mm. 
It reminded me of the seed head of a dandelion.

Tal2 resolved the globular many more stars than Tal1 has ever shown.

Moved on to Ursa minor, tried to find comet Panstarrs....  failed miserably... !!  

Thanks to the EQ mount and the position of my finder scope/eyepiece my neck was twisted into all shapes....I couldn't sit or stand comfortably enough to capture the elusive comet.  

A Dobsonian mount would have made finding Panstarrs that much easier.

But as Pantarrs is now at mag 9, and also in the balmy summer evening twilight, I was pushing my luck a bit.... 

The disappointment of no comet was soon forgotten when I turned the the scope onto our Northern star Polaris...  what an absolute beauty, further enhanced by it's blue secondary sitting nearby... which stood out wonderfully...  Thank you Tal2   ..  :0)

Considering the seeing wasn't that good, I was more than happy with the observing session.

Tal2 needs some tweaking as the above collimation picture shows.

The Double Double put on a poor show, but the view of M13 and Polaris redeemed any failings that Tal2 may have shown.  

I think it's time to get out the collimation eyepiece...

Clear Summer Skies....  at last...  :0)