Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Chasing Mercury's Rainbow

This evening I traveled down to Newgale, though I had to wait about half an hour for the clouds to clear off.

In that time  I had the car park to myself, not a soul around, only the gentle breaking of the waves to keep me company. The sea was calm, the darkening sky was mottled with slow moving dense black cloud, a perfect setting to contemplate the Cosmos.

Finally the clouds gave way to the denim sky.....I spotted  Mercury hanging ghost like way out to the North West, towards St David's.

I trained the Schmidt onto this tiny spot of light. My 20mm Erfle eyepiece revealed a small shivering mass of rainbow colours...  no phase was detected!  Time to try my luck with the 9mm Ortho.

The 9mm eyepiece revealed even prettier rainbow colours, red, yellow and a lovely greeny blue....but still no phase detected!

Really I was pushing my luck as the planet was very low down on the horizon, but given the low altitude I hadn't realised detecting the planet's phase would be so difficult.

The little Schmidt had tried it's best, but Mercury had other ideas. At one point I thought I detected a slightly gibbous phase, though I reckon this was wishful thinking on my part!

After about ten minutes of observing, the clouds were back....  time to pack away the telescope.

Even though tonight's session was cut short, it was well worth the effort to get out and about in the county.

Clear "rainbow" Skies


Thursday, 15 May 2014

A quick peep with Tal2

The sky last night was beautifully clear, so I decided to roll back the observatory roof and give Tal2 a bit of an airing.

Firstly Arcturus was spotted, the diffraction spikes around the star made for a mesmerising sight. I took a good long look at this most wonderful of stars.

My thoughts were so far away that I completely forgot about my initial target ..Mars!

Mars noticeably now has a slight case of the "shrinks", at least it does through the 9mm Orthoscopic eyepiece.

Surface detail was very low tonight on Barsoom.

It won't be long before my National Geographic Mars map is replaced with my Moon Map.

After a few more minutes of telescope observing I decided to close up the observatory, sit on the garden bench and take in the night sky without the help of visual aids.

All was quiet in the village, the streetlights had gone off, and the evening was mine to take in the starry night.

Perfect..  :0)

Clear Skies


Monday, 12 May 2014

Moon, Mars and Saturn through and above the trees

Tonight the Moon  was calling me, a big bright gibbous Moon, sitting above the treeline, along with Mars.... they were irresistible! 

Plus at the other end of the garden a brilliant shining Saturn was winking at me from amongst the naked ash trees.

Definitely time to drag out the Schmidt.

I set up outside the front door, the street lights had all gone out, and the neighbour's lights all switched off...perfect for a spot of observing.

The north polar cap of Mars stood out well, plus a few dark markings. There seemed to be a hint of south polar cap, though this was probably haze or cloud.

The Moon was gibbous and very bright, almost sunglasses bright as viewed through the 25mm Kellner eyepiece (x50).

I can highly recommend wearing sunglasses for telescopically observing the bright Moon, and cheaper than a moon filter!

Saturn looked amazing tonight (x220), through the gaps in the trees I could easily detect some surface banding, with a hint of colour (brownish to my eyes). The Cassini Division was noted, but not very distinct.

Tonight was one of the best nights this year for actual observing comfort. I was sitting outside in jeans and t-shirt,  I don't often get to say that from where I live...

Fingers crossed for the warmer months ahead.

Clear "Warm" Skies


Sunday, 11 May 2014

Mercurial Rainbow Dancing

Would I see Mercury tonight?

Helen and I made our way to Newgale, we arrived at about 10.00p.m.

After about five minutes of searching I spotted a tiny point of light over towards the North West that was without doubt the planet Mercury.

Out came the Schmidt telescope, and quickly to locate the planet I put in the20mm Erfle eyepiece (x100), followed by the higher magnifying 9mm Ortho eyepiece (x220).

What a lovely rainbow!!

Due to the low altitude of Mercury I wasn't able to see any hint of a planetary phase.

All I could see was a swirling mass of rainbow colours, plus a sea breeze was nudging the Schmidt slightly.

The result of the planets low altitude, plus the sea breeze left Mercury a dance of swirling colours.

At one point I thought I had caught a glimpse of the gibbous phase, but I reckon my brain was playing tricks.

Mercury is a difficult planet to view, maybe I'll have better luck in late October when it becomes a morning object.

Clear Skies


Sunday, 4 May 2014

Astronomy from Newgale

Observing Mercury from Newgale.

For some of the month of May I’m hoping to be observing Mercury from the middle car park on Newgale seafront.

This location should favour excellent viewing of Mercury as it moves through the phases from gibbous to crescent.

I’ll be there along with my telescope: weather permitting on the 15th, 20th, 25th and 30th of May.

If you’re interested in seeing Mercury on those evenings, look out for a silver Nissan Micra… 

Nearby I’ll have my telescope setup…. 

Might see you soon......

Clear Skies 
Mark..  :0)