Friday, 25 January 2013

The Gwdihw serenades the Gibbous Moon...


Early yesterday evening the clouds filled the skies, I thought there was to be no observing .....  thankfully I was wrong.

At around 10.00pm the clouds parted, and the gibbous Moon and Jupiter could be seen softly shining through a thin veil of mist. 

Due to the brightness of the Moon, I could only make out a handful of stars.

To the South, Sirius was peeping through the trees, Procyon was shining happily above the tree line, whilst Orion was snagged almost waist height in the tops of the trees at the end of the garden.

To the North, I could make out the shape of the Plough and also Polaris.

Kochab and Pherkad "the Guardians of the Pole" were also prominent.  

Apart from spotting Aldebaran and Capella; not much else of the starry night could be seen.. my targets for the evening where.... Jupiter and the Moon....

The 13 day waxing Moon was bright enough for my observations to be noted without the need of torch or candle....



After taking several shots of the Moon with the Tal1, and digicam, I moved onto trying a sketch of Jupiter...

Unfortunately Jupiter wasn't in a cooperative mood.  

Very little detail of the planet's belts were seen through the eyepiece...

But to make up for the lack of planetary detail... I was rewarded with a lovely arrangement of the Galilean moons.....







I was in and out of the observatory for about half an hour. In that time the mist cleared enough to reveal a clearer Moon, but no extra stars were seen... 

In the distance on the village boundary, I could hear an owl calling to the night....  serenading to the bright Moon no doubt... I was glad to once again hear the song of the Gwdihw*


It's officially Full Moon on Sunday morning around 5.00am.....

No doubt, like many others Luna-tics, I'll be awake early Sunday morning staring out of the bedroom window looking at lovely Selene.. 

Clear Lunar Skies 

Mark......

*The Welsh word for owl is Tylluan... but there is an alternative Welsh word....  Gwdihw... pronounced "Goody Who".

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Clarkson on the Moon....


I felt the cold last night in the observatory ...especially in my feet...

Even though the observatory floor is made of wood, I could feel the chill rising up through my boots....

I think it's time to put on some thicker socks.

Never mind, it was worth the discomfort to capture the gibbous Moon...  :0)

Along the terminator last night Gassendi was most prominent. A friend once commented that Gassendi looked very much like a tortoise or maybe a turtle.

You can easily see the shape of a tortoise, with the crater Gassendi A being the tortoise's head...

I prefer to use the alternative name for Gassendi A .... that being Clarkson.


Roland Clarkson (1889-1954) was a lunar astronomer from Suffolk UK.

Between 1906 and 1954 Roland spent may years dedicated to the pursuit of lunar observing and sketching.

Then in early 1954, in recognition of his many years of  lunar study and sketching, the crater Gassendi A was renamed in his honour.




Unfortunately the International Astronomical Union has since removed the name of Clarkson as it was felt that he wasn't well known internationally....!!!!

What a load of nonsense...!!

I will continue to use the name "Clarkson' in memory of this most prolific of Moon mappers.... :0)

Clear Lunar Skies

Mark.... 

Monday, 21 January 2013

Gibbous Moon, igloos, it's warm by the fire....

Around 8.00pm the clouds cleared to reveal a lovely gibbous Moon high up in the sky.

After training the Tal1 onto the lunar surface, I was able to capture these afocal shots with the digicam:



Through the eyepiece at X169 the central mountain peaks of Eratosthenes, distinctly look like three tiny domes....  maybe they're igloos built by the Selenites .... !!!  :0)


At x169 Clavius looked beautiful through the Tal1.....  I was inspired to try a quick sketch..



Jupiter Observation

I also managed to capture the gas giant in graphite....



It was cold out there in the observatory tonight, half an hour was enough for me....

After making the Jupiter sketch it was time to pack up, and get back to the warm fire in the living room.

Clear Skies 

Mark.... 

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Sketching the Moon...with the help of the Pic du Midi.


I've been meaning to start a lunar sketching log for the past several months.

But between the cloudy weather and the low Moon playing peek a boo through the trees, I haven't had many opportunities to try it out...

Yesterday I began by making a drawing of crater Gassendi from one of my favourite books... 
Atlas of the Moon by Vincent de Callatay. 


Printed in 1964 and containing some 160 pages.

I cannot recommend this book enough, it's full of beautiful rich toned black & white lunar photographs, taken at the Pic du Midi Observatory in France.

The book also contains a wealth of information about the motion of the Moon, lunar phases, mechanisms of eclipses, lunar relief, origins of lunar formation, libration, tide mechanisms......  
...... the list goes on. 

Every Luna-tic should have a copy....  :0)

All I need now is for the skies to clear, then once old Tal1 collects those
lunar rays I can get on with some sketching.

Clear Lunar Skies 

Mark..

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Jupiter sketching under a hazy sky...


I was out observing Jupiter yesterday evening, specifically looking for the Great Red Spot, which was transiting the Central Meridian at about 21h53m UT.

I was in the observatory about twenty minutes before that C.M. Transit, with pencil and paper at the ready.

During the observing session, I couldn't confirm that I saw the GRS, but there was a distinct gap in the South Equatorial Belt, which I figured was most likely due to the paler colouring of the GRS.

It was a  hazy evening with mostly only 1st and 2nd magnitude stars on show...  

By about 10pm the haze and clouds finally blotted out the stars. 

I've a few lunar pictures from earlier in the evening to put on, but they can wait till the next post....

Clear Skies

Mark....

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Last Night's Jupiter sketch...

Seeing: Antoniadi III
Last night was cold and windy, and the fast moving clouds were also playing havoc with my Jupiter observations.

Tal1 did a good job of dampening down the vibrations of the gusting wind....  even at X169 the image was pretty well vibration free.

I decided to make a brief sketch and then get back to the warm fire as quickly as possible to draw up my results.

Here is the finished sketch in pencil.

Clear Skies

Mark..

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Tal1 captures the Great Red Spot.


Just before supper last night, I had a quick look through the telescope.

Jupiter was shining brightly over in the East... so I trained the scope onto the King of the planets....

With the 15mm Kellner and X3 Barlow I was able to up the magnification to X169.

Considering the pretty poor seeing I was surprised to see any detail on the gas giant....

Whilst observing I thought I saw the great red spot...
It was only just visible through my 110mm reflector.....


Mark...

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Messier Revisited.

This year I'm hoping to sketch a lot more of the Messier objects list... using the Tal1. 

To get me started, I've reworked a couple of my sketches from last years collection.

Also I've added a photo of the Pleiades that I took; I think back in November...  

I'll have to dig through my CD's to find the actual date....


I've had Tal1 for nearly two years, and in that time I've not as yet attacked the Messier list with any real conviction.

Over the years I've seen many of the Messier objects through various telescopes, but it will be interesting to see what the mighty Russian reflector is capable of...  :0)

With Tal1 as company it will be nice to revisit some of my Messier favourites.


I'm expecting mostly to make sketches of my Messier-Tal1 findings, but sometimes it will be easier just to train our Nikon D50+ 300mm lens onto my intended target..... 

The picture below of M45 was taken with our 70-300mm telephoto lens......

I wonder if the 300mm lens will capture the Beehive Cluster ......?


The Messier Album an observer's handbook.

One book that is indispensible if you're chasing the Messier objects is, The Messier Album an observer's handbook by John H. Mallas and Evered Kreimer.

John H. Mallas visually observed and sketched the Messier's with a lovely 4" Unitron refractor. 

Whilst Evered Kreimer photographed the Messier's with his 12.5 inch Cave reflector...again another beautiful looking instrument.

Between these two astronomers, they managed to produce a beautifully illustrated and informative book. 

John H. Mallas's sketches in particular give a wonderful representation of what you will actually see through most small telescopes with the naked eye. Equally Evered Kreimer's black & white photographs are really impressive ... 

Most of the photos in this book are black & white...

... although there are 16 pages in the back that contain colour pictures of the Messier objects, from several other amateur astronomers. 

In total the volume runs to some 230 pages.

Plus if you look on Amazon, you can pick this up for only only a few pounds..


If I was only allowed one Messier book on my shelf this would be the one.....


Clear Messier Skies to all astronomers......

Mark...