Astronomy Blog

Solar shenanigans – 27th June 2015

by on Jun.27, 2015, under Astronomy Blog

Despite the cloud ( as per usual)  trying to prevent me imaging, the Sun looked fabulous today.
Full disk.
Ha Sun15-06-27 09-54-56_stitchP

Sunspot group 2371 starting to disappear over the limb.


But there was some really exciting prominence activity elsewhere.

HaSun 15-06-27 15-49-13P
So I took what I could, then cracked open a couple of beers and lit up the barbie.
What a great end to a lovely warm day.
If the weather forecast is accurate, we might have a few more of these over the next week or so…


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Eagleseye Sky Diary for July 2015

by on Jun.27, 2015, under Astronomy Blog

My Sky Diary for June 2015 is now available for free download in two pdf file formats from my Web site. There is a short printable version and a longer version with full graphics and maps.

It contains details of the possibility of observing three comets this month. Comet Lovejoy C/2014 Q2, which is fading. Comet PANSTARRS C/2014 Q1 which should be visible in the western sky after sunset at the beginning of the month. and Comet Chureyumov-Gerasimenko 67P, which becomes bright enough to be viewed by amateurs in Taurus & Gemini.

The nights will soon start to be drawing back in making conditions better for some deep-sky observing, but good observing is still possible this time of year if you want to stay up late.


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Leicester Astronomical Society – 23rd June 2015

by on Jun.24, 2015, under Astronomy Blog

Last night I did my talk “Charles Piazzi Smyth and his High Altitude Observatory”  to Leicester Astronomical Society.


This was my second visit to them after doing my “Foosteps of Piazzi” talk last year and once again they made me feel extremely welcome.

There were lots of questions and nice comments after my talk, so it looked as if they really enjoyed it.

Hopefully it won’t be too long before they ask me back again.


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Summer Solstice Sun.

by on Jun.21, 2015, under Astronomy Blog

It was the Summer Solstice today and across the world International SunDay was running.
As we were looking after our 8 month old grandson this weekend, I didn’t get a chance to see the Sun until I got home this evening.

This was the full disk.
HaSolsticeSun 15-06-21 18-04-02

Here is a close up of the huge prominence that was visible.


And here’s a close up of the big sun spot group.



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What a compliment.

by on Jun.15, 2015, under Astronomy Blog

Crikey!! I must be doing something right.
As well as lots of praise on the evening, I also got this message left on my Web site, after my doing my talk about Rosetta & Philae at Cardiff Astronomical Society on Thursday evening.

“Just a brief message to thank you for your fantastic talk tonight at Cardiff Astronomical Society. We have had many memorable speakers over the years and your presentation was most definitely in that category. Your enthusiasm was very evident and I can honestly tell you that it ended far too soon. Thanks for a riveting talk and hope to see you back again”.

Feedback like this makes all the planning and putting together of talks and the travelling to the venue extremely rewarding and satisfying.

I absolutely love doing this talk.
Plus with Philae coming back to life this weekend, there will be lots more to add to this talk as events unfold.
With Ceres and Pluto also being revealed in greater and greater detail as I type, let me change the statement above:

I just love my hobby.

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Cardiff Astronomical Society – 11th June 2015

by on Jun.09, 2015, under Astronomy Blog

On the evening of Thursday the 11th of June I will be once again presenting my popular multi-media talk on Rosetta & Philae.

This time I will be travelling all the way over to Cardiff Astronomical Society who meet at Cardiff University.

Really looking forward to meeting another astronomy society I haven’t yet spoken to.

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


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Clouds and White Patch on Venus?

by on Jun.03, 2015, under Astronomy Blog

Playing around with my Venus filter this evening at around half Seven.
Yes, the Sun hadn’t even set! Even as I am writing this, it’s still quite a way from setting.

I finished some Hydrogen Alpha images of the Sun before swinging over to Venus.
Imaging it while the sky is bright takes away some of the glare.

So I thought I would try my smaller DMK21 camera and 3x Barlow to see if I could make the clouds stand out.
I was amazed to be able to see a bright patch towards the bottom and a faint band across the thick crescent in the live view as I was taking the images.

I moved the planet around the chip and repeated the images, but it was definitely a real feature.

The processing really brings them out.

Now to process my solar images.

A fine evening of astronomy goodness. :-)

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More H-Alpha Solar Fun.

by on May.30, 2015, under Astronomy Blog

There were a number of clouds, but I was determined to have a some H-Alpha Solar Fun this morning.

The full disk was amazing, showing an extremely long filament across the solar disk.
This must be hundreds of thousands of miles long!
The image below was taken with a DMK41 camera and a 2x focal reducer.

I just had to look at that filament in a bit more detail, so I removed the focal reducer to make the image a bit bigger.

video0029 08-26-51-2P
Using a 3x Barlow on the DMK41 camera, I got a little bit more detail.

video0032 08-35-24-2P
There was a really active area on one side of the Sun’s disk around a small sunspot, so I had to get an image of that as well.

video0030 08-30-54-2P
There were also a number of prominences visible around the disk.
The one shown below was the biggest of the all, a nice hedgerow type.
I started to make an series of images of this so I could build up an animation to show the movement of all this amazing activity. Unfortunately  clouds kept interfering and then obscured the Sun for too long as the cloud cover started to increase. So at that point I knew I was beaten, so withdrew to process the images.

To say I am well chuffed with this recent acquisition is a real understatement.
I bet it will also be very well received by the public at any of our daytime outreach events.

Re-process of above image, hopefully it looks a little bit more natural.
video0041 08-54-52P2

I managed to get a quick go later in the afternoon before the clouds finally blocked out the Sun and took another image of the prominence. You can see that it has developed quite a lot since this morning.
It now looks very much like two elephants back-to-back.
Or is it just me?

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Eagleseye June Sky Diary

by on May.30, 2015, under Astronomy Blog

My Sky Diary for June 2015 is now available for free download in two pdf file formats from my Web site.
A short printable version and a long version with full graphics and maps.

Although nights are getting shorter and lighter, there are still some very nice sights to be seen at this time of year.


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Bedford Astronomical Society – 27th May 2015

by on May.28, 2015, under Astronomy Blog

Tonight I kept the members of Bedford Astronomical Society entertained for the evening.
I showed a few of my recent astronomical images, notably a selection of a number of comets taken over the last couple of years.

Comet Lovejoy

I then played the NNHS New Horizon Webcast. recorded at Northampton Natural History Society Astronomy Section. This was presented by Alan Stern, who is the Principle Investigator for the NASA’s New Horizon Pluto and Kuiper belt mission.

The evening was then nicely rounded off with a preview of my June Sky diary which will be freely available to download from the 1st of June.

It was a great evening out catching up with old friends and doing what I love.


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