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)

Saturday, 1 June 2013

Roll off Roof... fixed ...AT LAST..!!

Up until today, the majority of the Northern sky has been difficult to observe from my observatory, due to the roof being unable to retract fully.

Over the last couple of years I've mostly had my Tal1 scope pointing South. Very rarely would I venture Northwards past the zenith.

If ever I needed a clear view to the North I would usually drag the Tal1 out on to the lawn, or maybe take the lightweight roof off completely, but even though the roof was lightweight it was still cumbersome to handle.

Thankfully that problem has been solved, as can been seen in the above picture.

Now that I've fixed the roll off roof, I will have a much wider view of the night sky to observe.

First on the list will be Polaris...  It's been months since I last observed the secondary star of Polaris, I wonder what Tal2 will reveal.

Fingers crossed for some clear skies ... :0)