Thursday, 13 August 2015

Fishing for Perseids

It was one o'clock, the sky was clear, the streetlights had switched themselves off, the deckchairs were out and the camera was set up on the tripod........ Time for the Perseid fireworks display.

HiTech meteor observing equipment

Over the first hour I spotted 13 meteors, mostly short trails and about magnitude 3 in brightness.

Most of those motes of dust were headed towards the direction of Cassiopiea and Auriga.

I Dream of Perseids

Some would say that 10 meteors an hour wasn't that many, but in that hour I was able to wander off into daydreams, or is it "nightdreams"!

Those gaps between the shooting stars allowed me time to dream of past eclipses, of splitting double stars, flying over the Moon and surfing the Milky Way....

I didn't really mind if spotted a meteor or not, to just sit and ponder the Perseids has always been as fascinating to me as actually seeing a Perseid.

I suppose this is how fishermen feel when they sit and wait for their catch.

As if on cue at 2.00am a first magnitude meteor streaked across the square of Pegasus, the brightest of the night, and its trail fit exactly between one side of the square and the other.

Within the next ten minutes I spotted another 10 meteors, mostly heading northwards towards Cassiopea.

 The lurking sea mist
I continued fishing for meteors for another 20 minutes but had to call it a night when I noticed a thin sea mist creeping in from the west... By 2.30 it was all over... the sea mist very soon veiled our village in a thin but effective Perseid blocking filter.

After checking my timed exposures for the night, to my surprise I found one image with a definite meteor trail...  its a small trail but finally I have captured a Perseid..

Perseid meteor near Mirphak

Wishing on the stars... "Night Dreaming"

My first ever vigil of meteor watching was at my grandmother's house. 

It was the late 70's and for many years I used to spend several nights at her house in early August camped out on the garden bench. 

It was great to lie out on the bench, with my shortwave radio collecting signals from the ionosphere, cushions propped under my head, and me looking up, wishing on the stars....

Farewell Perseids
See you next time in 2016

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Chasing M22 and Bicarbonate of Soda

August 11th 2015 - 21h45m UT - Nikon D3000

Just before the teapot disappeared from sight, I set up the Schmidt and took a quick peek at the area
around the teapot's handle. 

It had to be a quick peek, as thanks to the trees, my window of viewing below the ecliptic is pretty small towards the south.

No matter, I managed to spot Messier 22; what a lovely globular.

View with 40mm Kellner eyepiece

Through the Schmidt with a 40mm Kellner it had about it a ghostly quality. The stars within the misty globular shimmered, and every so often a twinkling would appear from within this mist. 

To my eye M22 is far superior to the brighter M13.

After only ten minutes of observing the dew started to settle on the corrector plate. I decided to pack away the telescope, and for once get an early night.

Viewing the rest of the Universe would have to wait until tomorrow....

Capturing the globulars with Bicarbonate of Soda.

How to make a globular cluster

I've often tried to depict globulars by sketching them with black ink and then inverting the image with Photoshop.

This method never quite leaves me with the the image I'm looking for.

After a bit of pondering I thought that as the globulars resemble tiny sparkling diamonds, or maybe glinting white sand or sugar, why not photograph that.

As my diamonds were far away in Zurich, the next best thing to hand was sugar.

After a few experiments it became apparent that the sugar granules were to large.

Globular Sugar Clusters
After a further dig through the kitchen cupboards I found the perfect globular material.... Bicarbonate of Soda.

As viewed through a 20mm Erfle eyepiece

The soda is just the right consistency and texture, and once photographed and photoshopped it leaves an image fairly close to the view through the telescope.

Clear Skies 


Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Total Eclipse of the Sun... Sixteen years ago today.

Hard to believe it was 16 years ago today....

What a special day that was, I bet everyone can still remember where they were that day. 

I was set up with a 60mm refractor, taking solar projections of the whole event outside our flat near Cardigan town. 

Considering the many clouds that day, the weather was kind for eclipse chasers.

The refractor did a great job projecting, even though my focuser was a piece of rolled up cardboard, with a 25mm plossl stuck in the end.

Today I made some watercolour sketches of four of my original drawings.



After completing the watercolours I made this image with the help of Instagram and Photoshop.

Sixteen years ago today I had no camera set up to record the event, luckily I was able to make several drawings via the projection method. 

I enjoy photographing the heavens, but my favourite will always be the sketching.

I now always carry a camera, but a pencil is never far away, usually behind my ear!

Hope you managed to see the Aug 99 eclipse, and hopefully some of you actually managed to see totality...

Clear solar skies 


Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Transient Lunar Phenomenon (TLP)

June 4th 2006
Due to the cloudy skies of late I haven't been able observe the night skies. 

This gave me time to dig through some of my journals. I found an interesting entry from 2006 under the heading of TLP!

TLP stands for Transient Lunar Phenomenon, a term coined by the late, and much missed, Patrick Moore. 

For an introduction to TLP visit: Wikipedia - Transient Lunar Phenomenon

Red Flash (TLP) June 4th 2006 - 22h25m UT

If ever you see something strange whilst observing the lunar landscape, maybe a glow near a crater or a sudden flash of light, perhaps what appears to be mist on the crater floor, or a multitude of other unexplained sightings, this maybe a TLP. 

Many amateur astronomers totally dismiss the idea of TLPs, but who knows. 

All I can say is that on the night of June the 4th 2006 I was observing near the craters Janssen and Lockyer, and happened to witness a bright red flash from the crater Pitiscus.  

I have no idea what the flash was, it could have been lunar based, or maybe lunacy based and all made up in my head..  :0)

I like to think it was one of H.G. Wells' "Selenites" flashing a laser pen at me....! 

To find more about those Selenites click this link:  The First Men In The Moon

Clear Skies... soon PLEASE!!