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Bedford Astronomical Society – 27th July 2016

by on Jul.24, 2016, under Astronomy Blog

After a bit of a rest from doing talks, on Wednesday the 27th of July I will be taking Bedford Astronomical Society on a wild trip across to the very edge of our observable universe.

I will be giving my Whistle-Stop Tour of the Universe (Hitch-Hiking on a Ray of Light) presentation to them.

So let’s hope that they strap themselves in and get ready for a journey that really is out of this world.
(Of course, it’s really just a good excuse to show some beautiful images of our wonderful universe).

The society meet at Bedford School at the Resource Room at The Piazzi Smyth Observatory in Pemberley Avenue. Meeting starts at 7:30pm.

So if you’re in the area, come along, say “Hello” and enjoy the ride.

HitchHiking

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Atlas V Launch from Cape Canaveral. The Video.

by on Jul.09, 2016, under Astronomy Blog

I finally got time to put together a video of the Atlas V launch we saw from the Saturn V exhibition building at The Kennedy Space Centre on the 24th of June.

The GoPro background footage captured real time video.
I have superimposed another closer video of the launch taken with another DSLR and also my images using my latest DSLR at about the time each one was taken.
Note the delay in the launch and the sound reaching us across that distance of just under 5 miles.
Efforts to view or image the detaching solid rocket boosters were ruined by its close proximity to the Sun as it sped away. The MUOS-5, a military communications satellite, reached its geosynchronous orbit successfully.
I made a few mistakes in setting up the shots, and in all the excitement of the event I forgot what I was meant to do at certain times in chaging angles of cameras etc.
But as this was my first experience of a launch close up, I can forgive myself and and well over the moon at the results.
(Pun entirely intended).

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Atlas V Launch from Cape Canaveral. 24th June 2016.

by on Jun.29, 2016, under Astronomy Blog

We have just returned from 2 weeks in Anna Maria Island in Florida.

Of course, I had to make the pilgrimage to The Space Coast to visit the Kennedy Space Centre.
We went up on the Wednesday, knowing full well that the postponed Atlas V launch was re-scheduled for the next morning. The visit was amazing, coming face to face with Space Shuttle Atlantis was very emotional. The last time I imaged this shuttle it was a very tiny black dot against the face of the Sun just after it separated from the ISS on its last mission STS-35 in 2011. Wow! How time flies…

Anyway, back to the morning of the launch. We extended our Space Centre tickets, staying close by overnight. Next morning we were transported back to the Saturn V display to view the launch. The atmosphere was incredible and everyone was extremely excited – Including me of course.

We were meant to have a live Internet countdown, but after all the “Go’s” announced the air went silent. As the clock hit 10:30am, the rocket went off like, well a rocket. It wasn’t hanging about, that’s for sure. Those strap on boosters were giving that MUOS-5 communications satellite a real kick to get it up into a geosynchronous orbit over the equator.
Find out more about the launch by clicking here.
I followed it as long as I could, taking pictures all the while hoping to see the solid boosters separate, but it launched against the glare of the Sun and I lost it in the glare before that happened.

It was an extremely quick getaway and my videos only show the launch itself.
I used two cameras and a Go-Pro to capture the footage (Footage to follow) and quite a few images.

But I also made time to sit and watch the spectacle as well.

I will post more pictures of the rest of our visit later, when the jet-lag subsides.

Here’s a few of my images of the launch.

AtlasLaunchBeginning-1

 

AtlasVLaunchMid1

AtlasVLaunchMid2

AtlasVLaunchMid3

AtlasVLaunchHighUp

AtalsLaunchTrail

AtlasVTrail-2

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Celebrate Tim Peake’s Principia mission.

by on Jun.12, 2016, under Astronomy Blog

Following the great success of my recent Celebration of Tim Peake’s Principia evening, I have now adapted it as a shorter stand-alone presentation to take out to groups.

The presentation has been added to my current list of presentations shown here.

This presentation uses stunning graphics and movies as well as hands-on audience participation.

So if your club would like an entertaining and informative evening to Celebrate Tim Peake’s Principia mission, book me now.

E Mail me using this link.

CelebrateTim

 

 

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End of a fantastic Weekend.

by on Jun.06, 2016, under Astronomy Blog

The weekend started out with my Tim Peake Celebration evening on Friday.
It went down a storm. Great crowd, very interactive and fabulous fun to do.
Here’s a few pictures from the night.

TimPeake4TimPeake1

TimPeake2TimPeake3In case you’re wondering, they are competing to peel a banana or tangerine with mock-up space gloves. Virtually destroyed the fruit rather than being able to eat it.

Sunday afternoon saw the Sun appear , so we had a very pleasant afternoon in the garden, with a barbie and a pint, while I was imaging the Sun in hydrogen alpha light. There’s lots going on despite the lack of sunspots at the moment. The hedgerow prominence was changing in form quite rapidly.

I will produce an animation as soon as I get time.

FullDiskProm20150605-WSC

ActiveArea20160605AS_p60_Multi_Drizzle15_video0127 16-06-05 16-40-05_g3_b3_ap31-WSC-CompositeAS_p60_Multi_Drizzle15_video0142 16-06-05 17-21-36_g3_b3_ap38-WSC_Composite

Later in the evening, I watched the ISS go right overhead in bright twilight. It was much easier to see than I expected, with the sky was so bright. An hour and half later Tim & Co. popped across the sky again, looking very bright in the much darker sky.

ISSStartrails20160605-2CropISSStartrails20160605Crop

At the end of the ISS apparition, Mars was just clearing the neighbours house. This was the first time this apparition that I have stayed up to view and image Mars as it appeared. Being so low down the image was wobbling all over the place. I took videos using my colour Philips webcam to capture the colour and my monochrome DMK camera to try and capture the detail on the surface.

The images combine quite well.
Mars-20160605-4If it stays clear, I might just stay up later and do a bit more. Maybe stay up late for Saturn as well.

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Hydrogen Alpha Sun – 22nd May 2016

by on May.22, 2016, under Astronomy Blog

The day started out with clear blue skies and sunshine, so straight out I went to capture some Hydrogen Alpha images. There were only a few small prominences around the limb, so I did a few close ups of the naked eye sunspot AR 2546 and a full disk before clouds started building up and we went out for a walk.

I experimented with tuning the telescope to get some detail in the spot, but Newton’s Rings were awful.
AS_p60_Multi_Drizzle15_video0016 08-27-44_g3_b3_ap2247_stitch-WC
AS_p60_Multi_Drizzle15_video0026 08-50-56_g3_b3_ap4328-WSC

AS_p60_Multi_Drizzle15_video0021 08-34-53_g3_b3_ap810-WC-Crop

When we got back from our walk there were two layers of clouds, each moving in different directions making it extremely challenging.

However I did manage to get AR 2546 again and a white light image through my 80mm scope.

AS_p60_Multi_Drizzle15_video0037 13-53-05_g3_b3_ap843-2WSC

AS_p60_Multi_Drizzle15_video0032 13-11-10_g3_b3_ap536StitchWSC

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After a rest, two talks this week. Leicester & Cambridge.

by on May.21, 2016, under Astronomy Blog

After a few weeks of rest, I start going round to astronomy clubs speaking yet again.

I have two outings this week:

On Tuesday the 24th of May, I am at Leicester Astronomical Society.
They meet at The National Space Centre, Exploration Dr, Leicester LE4 5NS.
Meeting starts at 7:30pm.
I will be speaking on Digitally Enhancing Astronomical Images.
If you’re in the area, come along and say “Hello”.

On Wednesday the 25th of May I will also be speaking to Cambridge Astronomical Association as part of their introduction evening at the Institute of Astronomy, Cambridge.
I will be showing them how to obtain deeper wide angle images of the sky, using an un-tracked camera.

Will be good to meet up with these two clubs yet again.
Thanks to both for asking me back.

DDSMilkyWay

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Astrophotography Workshop – 9th of April. Only two places left.

by on Mar.21, 2016, under Astronomy Blog

A repeat of my successful Astrophotography Workshop to be held on the 9th of April has just two places left.

Here’s what some of the last attendees said about the first workshop:

“I would recommend Dave’s new Astrophotography Workshop to all, he brings together knowledge and enthusiasm, passing it on to those of all skill levels.”

“I was so looking forward to this ‘hands- on’ course and it lived up to beyond my expectations – I was so enthused I carried on when I got home – thanks Dave you have the patience of a saint – can’t wait for the next one!”

“Thank you again for a well run workshop and I would be very interested in any other workshops you may have in the pipe line.. As you said a lot to take on. As I’m new to all of this but I come away from the workshop knowing a lot more than before.”

This second date is booking fast, and there are only two places left.

Picture saved with settings embedded.

Date: 9th April 2016

Time: 10:00am – 4:00pm.
Venue – Chelveston Village Hall.
21 Water Lane, Chelveston, Wellingborough, Northants, NN9 6AP
(There is plenty of parking. A map of the venue location is at the bottom of the page).

Please note: This workshop will use software that is predominantly Windows based.

Cost: £25.

The day is limited to 15 attendees. So first come, first served. Book using the Paypal button below now to reserve your place.




The area around Clavius

Workshop Outline
I will change and adapt the workshop according to the attendees needs on the day, but this is the overall outline of the day and the subjects I intend to cover:
Basic Astrophotography theory. – How it works and why we get the problems we do.
Simple Astrophotography. – Taking un-driven wide-field constellation images.
Webcam imaging. – Lunar, Solar and planetary imaging.
Image processing techniques. – Startrails, Deep Sky Stacker, AstroStakkert!, Registax and various image processing techniques to get us over the many problems and bring out the best in your images.

I would encourage attendees to bring their own laptops in where possible for effective hands-on practice.

As part of the workshop I will be supplying a CD for everyone to take away which will contain all the software I will be demonstrating as well as all the images I will be using in the demonstrations.

If you can bring in some images of your own that we can work on, that would be even better.

As we are in a rural location you will need to bring your own packed lunch on the day.

Tea, coffee, soft drinks, biscuits and cake will be available on the day to raise money for our local breast cancer charity Crazy Hats.

20150808-3

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Milton Keynes Astronomical Society – 18th March 2016.

by on Mar.13, 2016, under Astronomy Blog

On Friday the 18th of March I will be presenting my ever popular presentation, and let’s face it also my favourite presentation, Rosetta & Philae: From Concept To Reality to Milton Keynes Astronomical Society. 

Despite Philae now certainly lost, there is still a lot of information coming back from Rosetta before its finale of “hard landing” on the comet on the 29th of September. Comet 67P itself is still within reach of amateur instruments and will pass right through the Leo Triplet in April, so that will make a good imaging opportunity.

I will make sure I try to include as much of the new data and images as possible, as well as a screening of an ISS film linked to Tim Peake’s Pricipia Mission, which is now just over half way through.

So, if you’re in the area, come along, say “Hello” and enjoy my presentation.

Meeting starts at 8:00pm at:
Rectory Cottages,
Church Green Road,
Bletchley,
Milton Keynes,
MK3 6BJ.

RosettaTalk

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Astrophotography Workshop – 9th of April. Last Few Places.

by on Mar.12, 2016, under Astronomy Blog

A repeat of my successful Astrophotography Workshop is almost fully booked.
This will be held on Saturday the 9th of April.

Here’s what some of the last attendees said:

“I would recommend Dave’s new Astrophotography Workshop to all, he brings together knowledge and enthusiasm, passing it on to those of all skill levels.”

“I was so looking forward to this ‘hands- on’ course and it lived up to beyond my expectations – I was so enthused I carried on when I got home – thanks Dave you have the patience of a saint – can’t wait for the next one!”

“Thank you again for a well run workshop and I would be very interested in any other workshops you may have in the pipe line.. As you said a lot to take on. As I’m new to all of this but I come away from the workshop knowing a lot more than before.”

This second date is booking up fast, but there are still a very few spaces left.

Picture saved with settings embedded.

Date: 9th April 2016

Time: 10:00am – 4:00pm.
Venue – Chelveston Village Hall.
21 Water Lane, Chelveston, Wellingborough, Northants, NN9 6AP
(There is plenty of parking. A map of the venue location is at the bottom of the page).

Please note: This workshop will use software that is predominantly Windows based.

Cost: £25.

The day is limited to 15 attendees. So first come, first served. Book using Paypal now to reserve your place.




Look out for more dates as these are announced.
If you know of a suitable venue closer to you where I could organise another workshop, please let me know.

The area around Clavius

Workshop Outline
I will change and adapt the workshop according to the attendees needs on the day, but this is the overall outline of the day and the subjects I intend to cover:
Basic Astrophotography theory. – How it works and why we get the problems we do.
Simple Astrophotography. – Taking un-driven wide-field constellation images.
Webcam imaging. – Lunar, Solar and planetary imaging.
Image processing techniques. – Startrails, Deep Sky Stacker, AstroStakkert!, Registax and various image processing techniques to get us over the many problems and bring out the best in your images.

I would encourage attendees to bring their own laptops in where possible for effective hands-on practice.

As part of the workshop I will be supplying a CD for everyone to take away which will contain all the software I will be demonstrating as well as all the images I will be using in the demonstrations.

If you can bring in some images of your own that we can work on, that would be even better.

As we are in a rural location you will need to bring your own packed lunch on the day.

Tea, coffee, soft drinks, biscuits and cake will be available on the day to raise money for our local breast cancer charity Crazy Hats.

20150808-3

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