Author Archive

Talk to Stanion Stargazers – Friday 4th July.

by on Jul.05, 2014, under Astronomy Blog

I went and did my talk about basic astrophotography to the relatively new local Astronomy club Stanion Stargazers.

They were a very enthusiastic group and the talk went down well.
At the end of the evening I did some demonstrations of image stacking and post-processing.

Judging by the amount of questions asked and conversation afterwards, I would say it was an extremely successful evening.

Hopefully they will ask me back again in the future.



Leave a Comment more...

Eagleseye Sky Diary ics file.

by on Jun.28, 2014, under Astronomy Blog

The events highlighted in my July sky diary are now available as an ics file to import into your own calendars.

Right-click the link below to save the calendar to import it.

July 2014 calendar


Leave a Comment more...

Sky Diary for July 2014

by on Jun.28, 2014, under Astronomy Blog

My Sky Diary for July in pdf format is now available for free download from my Web site.




Leave a Comment more...

A list of UK Star Parties.

by on Jun.14, 2014, under Resources, Star Parties

Star Parties in the United Kingdom.

These meetings of like-minded astronomy enthusiasts gather in organised parts of the country which are renowned for their dark skies to enjoy the night sky in all its glory. Camping is affordable and these events are usually are heavily over-subscribed, so early booking is advised.

They are highly sociable events with lots of people taking scopes of all shapes and sizes. People are always more than willing to let you look through their telescopes, so you don’t need to own one yourself, or be very knowledgeable to join in.

They are scattered throughout the year but mainly take place in Spring & Autumn avoiding the times around the  full Moon to ensure dark skies.

Kielder Star Party.

Isle Of Wight Star Party.

 Kelling Heath Spring Star Party.

Starfest Dalby Forest.

Kelling Heath Autumn Equinox Sky Camp.

Brecon Astrocamp.

Kielder Forest Star Camp.

Peak Star Party.

Go on, you know you want to. There must be one close to you.

Book now. You won’t regret it.

If I have missed any out, please let me know.

Leave a Comment more...

Comet PANSTARRS C/2012 K1 is brightening.

by on Jun.14, 2014, under Astronomy Blog

It might be starting to get lower in the south west after sunset, and the near Full Moon might be interfering somewhat, but Comet PANSTARRS C/2012 K1 is brightening nicely.
(Don’t confuse this different comet with PANSTARRS C/2011 L4, which was visible last Spring which has long since gone).

C/2012 K1 is now bright enough to be viewed in binoculars or a small telescope.

Image by Damian Peach of C/2012 K1 showing the Ion and Dust tails.

Currently above in Leo Minor, it should be fairly easy to find below The Plough.

It will move into the constellation of Leo by the end of the month when it will pass just above its head, The Sickle of Leo.
More details available on these Web sites.

Universe Today Article

Sky & Telescope Article.

More details on other comets here:


Leave a Comment more...

Talk to Leicester Astronomical Society

by on Jun.11, 2014, under Astronomy Blog


I did my talk entitled “In the Footsteps of Piazzi Smyth – Astronomical Adventures in Tenerife” to Leicester Astronomical Society last night. There were about 40 people attending that evening and if the multitude of questions afterwards are anything to go by my talk went down very well indeed.
Many thanks to Leicester AS for giving me such a warm reception.
I really enjoyed the evening.
Hopefully they will have me back for my talk on Piazzi himself.

Leave a Comment more...

Sky Diary for June 2014

by on May.29, 2014, under Astronomy Blog

My detailed sky diary and guide to the night sky for June 2014 is now available for download from my Web site.






Leave a Comment more...

Talk to Sawtry Astronomical Society

by on May.29, 2014, under Astronomy Blog

Tuesday evening I did my newly enhanced talk entitled:

“A Whistle-Stop Tour of the Universe. (Hitch-Hiking on a Beam of Light)”, to Sawtry Astronomical Society.

They meet in the serviceman’s club and was presented with a nice pint to start which went down very well.

They were all very friendly and my talk seemed to go down extremely well, making the effort I took of adding some new material over the weekend well worthwhile.

All in all it was a great night out.
Once again, it makes me realise why I still do talks like this.

Thanks for the invite folks and hope to see you again soon.


Leave a Comment more...

Summer Astro-imaging – Short but Sweet.

by on May.26, 2014, under Astronomy Blog

Imaging Report – 27th May – 28th May 2014.
Despite not getting anywhere near like proper darkness at this time of year, I was determined to get out and do some imaging. Especially being a Bank Holiday tomorrow.
So I set up just before 21:00h UT (22:00h BST) just as the sky was starting to darken (a bit!).

Comet 209P / LINEAR, caused a lot of excitement about causing a possible meteor storm on the Saturday and  had so far eluded me. So that was my first intended target. Despite the light blue background on my images from the twilight, I could see the comet on my images.

Comet 209P / LINEAR in Leo.
Picture saved with settings embedded.
The comet showed a thin, short and slightly kinked tail. It was really hurtling across the field of view, so short exposures of 30 second each was used to capture it to try and freeze that movement. The comet was also a lot fainter than I expected. Mind you, it isn’t helped by the non-existent dark skies at this time of year. Examining my previous attempt to image it, it was there on my images, but only just).  No wonder I over-looked it before.

Nearby was the galaxy cluster Hickson 44, a swarm of galaxies swarming around the neck of Leo.
Hickson 44.
Picture saved with settings embedded.

While I was on the mood for galaxies, I tried an old favourite M101 on the back of Ursa Major, the Great Bear.
Messier 101
Picture saved with settings embedded.
The galaxies extensive spiral arms, twists, knots and dark dust lanes showing up quite well.

Another favourite beckoned in another part of the sky, the great Hercules globular cluster Messier 13.

M13 – The Great Globular Cluster in Hercules.Picture saved with settings embedded.   

The centre of the cluster is clearly defined.

While I was on a roll, I decided to really stretch my limits and try and capture the distant Corona Borealis galaxy cluster (Abell 2065) which lies over 1 billion light years away
(Light from these galaxies takes over 1,000,000 years to reach my telescope mirror here on Earth!).
Absolutely mind-blowing!

Abell 2065
Picture saved with settings embedded.

They may only show up as very faint blobs, but several members of the cluster are clearly visible.
The brightest galaxy in the group is PGC 54883, and that is at magnitude 15.9.
So despite the light nights at this time of year, and the light pollution in my town and around my estate, I am still able to pick up some really faint and distant objects.

So I had an absolutely marvellous night, finally getting to bed at 02:55, just as the north eastern sky was starting to brighten even more as the Sun was preparing to rise.

So just imagine how this would look if I could image it from a dark sky?

Just goes to show, you should still make the effort to do some astronomy, even if you think the odds are stacked against you.


1 Comment more...

Comet PANSTARRS C/2012 K1 & M106

by on May.24, 2014, under Astronomy Blog

A clear night for a change, so out I went to capture three objects.
M106, and two comets, PANSTARRS C/2012 K1 and 209P/LINEAR.
The skies weren’t exactly dark or clear, but after a dearth of astronomy the past few weeks since coming back from France, I had to get out and have a go.
I failed miserably to detect Comet 209P, so quickly gave up as scudding clouds were looming.
By contrast, Comet PANSTARRS was visible in a quick 30 second exposure, so I quickly rattled off some images with my Nikon DSLR and stacked them. (The fuzzy object close to the head of the comet is the 11.6 magnitude galaxy NGC3614).


Ire-processed the images to freeze the comets movement and the background sky blurring to see detail in the galaxy.
Picture saved with settings embedded.
Third target was Messier galaxy M106, which currently has a supernova very close to its core. So I rattled off some more images until the clouds rolled in again to spoil things.
A lot of detail can be seen within the galaxy, but unfortunately the supernova is so close to the core, that you really cannot distinguish it in my image, just seeing it as slightly more elongated than normal.
Picture saved with settings embedded.
This galaxy is certainly surrounded by many faint fuzzy friends.
I was hoping to stay up all night to see if the new meteor shower would perform, but by the time I published this page, the sky was once more covered with cloud.


Leave a Comment more...

Looking for something?

Use the form below to search the site:

Still not finding what you're looking for? Drop a comment on a post or contact us so we can take care of it!