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



  1. Love the post Pembs... ya got enough room for me if you and Helen schooch over a little bit!I did the same thing when I was camping about 2 weeks ago... just laid on the pebble beach up at the stars...Heaven!

    Sorry I haven't been in touch lately. Just busy with work, and squeezing in hiking and astronomy! Regards to Helen. Hope everything is growing well over there!

    1. Hi Mike...... there's plenty of room in the shed..... :0)

      Camping out under the stars on a pebble beach.....excellent.... :0) ... Heaven is definitely the right word....

      Telescopes are great, but out in the open sleeping under the stars is always my favourite.......

      No worry about being in touch... we're the same here....what with all this nice weather the computer hasn't been on much...

      This past month Helen and I have practically lived in the shed...! No electricity...only candle light now and again....

      If the weather shows any signs of being kind tonight....we'll off again to sleep in the shed... :0))

      Before the weather changes I hope you manage some more starry night camping/hiking.....

      Hope all is well with you and family...... Regards to Beth....

      Talk to you soon...


      p.s. The runner beans in our garden have finally decided to grow....we'll be eating some of them later tonight.... :0)