Astronomy Blog

Partial Solar Eclipse – 20th March 2015

by on Mar.20, 2015, under Astronomy Blog

It looked hopeless at the start of the partial solar eclipse as there was mist and thick cloud at work.
But, as the Moon started to encroach onto the Suns disk, the clouds started to break and the event was starting to be revealed.

We could easily see the Eclipse progressing throughout without the eclipse glasses and followed it right through to Maximum and beyond. Skies were almost completely clear by the end of the eclipse.

Despite the cloud and a few forgotten items, I did manage to get some images through my 80mm refractor.

In the original images you can see the profile of the Moon is not smooth and the mountains along the Lunar limb show up really well in silhouette.

A great way to spend time at work with the blessing of my boss.


Eclipse Montage.

Irregular Lunar Limb Profile.

Safely Observing the Eclipse.


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Talks: Rosetta & Philae: From Concept to Reality.

by on Mar.17, 2015, under Astronomy Blog

Tonight I will be talking to Northants Amateur Astronomers.

Tomorrow evening I will be visiting North Essex Astronomical Society.

Both groups have booked me for my popular multi-media presentation,

Rosetta & Philae: From Concept to Reality.


Both groups feel like old friends now, as I have been to talk to each of them a number of times.

I am really looking forward to bringing the Rosetta & Philae, Comet 67P mission to life for them.

If you are in the area of these two groups on these evenings, do come along and say “Hello”.


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Comet Lovejoy C/2014 Q2 and The Owl Cluster

by on Mar.10, 2015, under Astronomy Blog

Although fading, comet Lovejoy C/2014 Q2 is still (just) above naked eye visibility. Tonight it was passing close to the star cluster NGC 457 in Cassiopeia. This lovely cluster of stars is also known as The Owl Cluster. The field of view on my ED80 telescope was wide enough to easily get both objects in the same field of view.

Comet Lovejoy C/2014 Q2 and The Owl Cluster
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I managed to get a reasonable image of both objects despite the thin cloud that spoiled the view somewhat. You can see some brightness around the cluster caused by the cloud interfering.

Comet Lovejoy continues to give.


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Comet Lovejoy C/2014 Q2 – 2nd March 2015.

by on Mar.02, 2015, under Astronomy Blog

Comet Lovejoy C/2014 Q2 is still shining fairly brightly, now starting to approach Cassiopeia.

For a detailed map of the comets current position, see the last few pages of my Sky Diary.

The comet has sadly faded somewhat in the past few weeks and the light from the gibbous Moon is interfering somewhat.
But t I thought I would still give it a go now my throat and cough is much better. The comet looks less active with far less distinct streamers in the tail, but it’s still looking good with a reasonable tail and the nucleus is still bright enough for my telescope to auto-guide on it.

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I will enjoy watching this comet shrink away, especially once the Moon moves out of the sky in a week or so.


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Sky Diary for March 2015

by on Feb.28, 2015, under Astronomy Blog

My Sky Diary for March 2015 is now available for free download in two pdf file formats (Short & Long version) from my Web site.

It includes all the latest details about the now fading Comet Lovejoy C/2014 Q2 and the upcoming large Partial Eclipse of the Sun seen from the UK on morning of the 20th.




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Sawtry Astronomical Society

by on Feb.25, 2015, under Astronomy Blog

Now almost recovered from the lurgie, I did my popular multi-media presentation “Rosetta & Philae: From Concept to Reality”, to Sawtry Astronomical Society last night.


This was my third visit to them in a year and they gave me a very warm welcome.

It was great to be back.

Once again this entertaining and interesting talk went down extremely well.

And as a bonus I even won some chocolates in their raffle.

I now have a rest now for a couple of weeks until I do the same presentation to Northants Amateur Astronomers on the on the 17th of March.


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Aerobility Northern Lights Charity Flight.

by on Feb.22, 2015, under Astronomy Blog

On Saturday the 21st of February 2015 I spoke at a fundraising event for Aerobility. The charity that allows disabled people, no matter what their disability to be able to fly an aircraft for themselves. This was held at Luton Airport in the huge Easyjet hanger. Over 100 passengers were collected and we were suitably entertained by Jon Culshaw. Neil Parker from Green Witch Telescopes talked about the aurora itself. I was there to talk about what other astronomical objects would be spotted along the way and my talk seemed to go down very well. My throat just about holding out for the half hour presentation.AerobilityWeb

Me doing my thing for Aerobility.

After dark we boarded our trusty steed and headed to 61° North to attempt to view the northern lights. All lights in the cabin were extinguished. The view of the night sky out the windows was absolutely stunning. Neil and I did some commentary over the tannoy to tell people what they could see out of the window.

As we reached the northernmost point a faint green glow could be seen out of the front of the plane on the right hand side. This added light pollution dimmed the stars somewhat, but nobody minded in the least.

Below are some of the images I managed to take during the flight.
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The plane then carried out a series of turns to let both sides of the plane view the aurora. It was extremely bright in places and we had some fabulous views, the green even reflecting onto the clouds below.

DSC_4483 -1PWebDSC_4498 -1PWeb

All too soon our viewing came to an end and we headed south for Luton.

Unfortunately due to a medical emergency, we had to stop at Edinburgh to drop three passengers off, but thankfully the passenger in question seemed to have recovered quite well before departing the plane.

We finally landed at Luton and after driving home finally got to bed at 4am.

We were tired, but very, very happy.

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Coventry & Warwicks AS – Rosetta & Philae

by on Feb.16, 2015, under Astronomy Blog

Despite the lurgie setting in from lunchtime that day (Which has completely wrecked my weekend and still got a tight grip on me), on Friday evening I did my multi-media presentation “Rosetta & Philae: From Concept to Reality”, to Coventry & Warwickshire Astronomical Society.


This was my second visit to them in 4 months, so I must be doing well.
Once again this talk went down extremely well and my voice held out until the end of the presentation.

I have a rest now for a couple of weeks until I do the same presentation to Sawtry AS on the 25th of February.


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Comet Lovejoy C2014 Q2 and talk to Stanion Stargazers.

by on Feb.06, 2015, under Astronomy Blog

Tonight I was booked to do my my multi-media presentation “Rosetta & Philae: From Concept to Reality”, to Stanion Stargazers tonight.

We had clear skies and I wanted to capture more images of Comet Lovejoy C2014 Q2!
Luckily Stanion isn’t too far away and they start relatively late. So I had time once it got dark to take some images. Using my small 80mm refractor and my Trusty Nikon D5100, I managed to get 28 subs of 2 minutes each before having to leave to give the talk.

The talk was once again received very enthusiastically.

Then when I got home I processed the comet images, and produced this not too shabby image.
By this time the bright Moon was well up, making the opportunity of catching any more tonight extremely unlikely. There appear to be lots of contortions in the tail.

I did wrestle with doing some Jupiter imaging, but felt too tired to go out again.
What a lightweight!!

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Talk to Peterborough Astro Society. Rosetta & Philae: From Concept to Reality

by on Feb.06, 2015, under Astronomy Blog

Last night I did my multi-media presentation “Rosetta & Philae: From Concept to Reality”, to Peterborough Astronomical Society last night.


It was great meeting up with some old friends.
The talk went down extremely well, even with my sense of humour liberally sprinkled into it.

I’m doing the same talk to my newer friends, Stanion Stargazers tonight.

Will I get bored doing this talk? Not on your Nelly.

Of course as the mission develops throughout the year there will always be new information and pictures to add on.
Unless I do some fat-trimming later, this could turn out to be a very long presentation.


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