Archive for June, 2012

RIP Lonesome George

by on Jun.27, 2012, under Astronomy Blog

So sad to hear that Lonesome George, the last of the Galapagos Pinta Island Giant Tortoises has died.

We saw him in January during our trip out there. Click here for my write up.

It once again highlights how us humans have been responsible for destroying many species in the world in such a short space of time.

More details here.

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Animation of my images of asteroid 2012 LZ1 from Monday night

by on Jun.22, 2012, under Astronomy Blog

I finally got around to making an animation of the 19 useful images I took Monday night.

I have cropped the original images so it shows a smaller field of view and the asteroid passes left to right across the middle of the field of view.
(The line that flashes on is a satellite that passed by during one of the images).

I have been informed at the time I took the images it was at around magnitude 15.8.
The apparent speed was 17.9 arcseconds per minute.


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Talk to Olney & District History Society

by on Jun.20, 2012, under Astronomy Blog

Last night I did a talk to Olney & District History Society on the History of Manned Spaceflight.
It went down extremely well, and all the video and sound for the talk worked flawlessly.
It’s always a tense moment when you boot up the technology…

I love it when it goes so well.
Gives me a great feeling of satisfaction and achievement.

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A faint challenge. Minor Planet 2012 LZ1

by on Jun.18, 2012, under Astronomy Blog

The dwarf planet labelled 2012 LZ1 shot past the Earth this weekend. It was faint then but has dropped in magnitude as it moves away from the Earth. This was the first clear night, so despite the light skies, so close to the Solstice and having to stay up late to try ad catch it in Cygnus, I just had to give it a go.

I used software to locate the area of sky it should have been moving through. I took 1.5 minute exposures and the object showed up as a faint streak.

If you are out now and want to find it, use this narrow field map until midnight:
Central RA and Dec on the left. Good luck.

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Webb Society Deep Sky Meeting Cambridge.

by on Jun.17, 2012, under Astronomy Blog

Yesterday was the annual meeting of the Webb Society at The Institute of Astronomy in Cambridge.

It was a great way to meet up with old friends as well as seeing a great selection of speakers.

Owen Brazell – Observing Galaxy Clusters
Jeff Young – Experimental Visual Observing
Dave Adshead – Deep Sky Imaging from the Kingfisher Observatory
Bob Marriott – The Life of Dawes
Prof Katherine Blundell – Distant Galaxies

I found all the talks highly entertaining and informative, and at times quite thought provoking.

A great day of astronomy, slanted towards deep-sky objects/observing.

Lunch, tea and coffee all included in the £10 entry cost. Bargain.

Oh, and I couldn’t resist buying yet another book from the Cambridge Press stand…

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Close Pass of Minor Planet 2012 LZ1

by on Jun.15, 2012, under Astronomy Blog

A new addition to add to my monthly sky guide.

The minor planet 2012 LZ1 passed close by in the early hours of this morning, unfortunately skies were cloudy.
2012 LZ1 is a large Near-Earth Object (NEO) approximately 300-700 metres in size.
It was discovered by Rob McNaught on June 10th 2012 from the Uppsala Telescope at Siding Spring Observatory.
2012 LZ1 was at its closest approach of 13-14 lunar-distances on June 14 23:10 UT.

At it’s brightest it will be around 14th magnitude, so it should be fairly reasonable to capture on an image, even from my light polluted skies, if you can find it, but a challenge to see visually.

I have finally managed to get the path plotted for asteroid over the next few days. Times shown at 5 hour intervals.
It passes through Aquila over the next couple of days, heading north.
It is just north of Altair when it gets dark on the 16th. Click on images for closer view.

Passes close to M27, the Dumbbell Nebula on the night of the 17th as shown below.

Let’s hope we get some clear skies…


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Picture of the month – BAA Web Site

by on Jun.13, 2012, under Astronomy Blog

Yahhooo! My thin crescent image of Venus got joint billing as picture of the month on the British Astronomical Association Web page.

Get in there!

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Free Wi-Fi on London Tube Stations until after the Olympics.

by on Jun.12, 2012, under Astronomy Blog

More than 80 London tube stations will be offering free Wi-Fi access throughout the summer.
This will become chargable after the Olympics finish.

For more details see this article: Free London Tube Wi-Fi.

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Talk to St Neots Astronomical Association.

by on Jun.12, 2012, under Astronomy Blog

Last night I did my talk entitled:
A Whistle-Stop Tour of the Universe. (Hitch-hiking on a Beam of Light), to St Neots Astronomical Association.

Meeting at Paxton Nature reserve, It only took me half an hour to get there.
As a result I arrived far too early, so took a walk in the rain around the reserve.

They had a great meeting room and there were about about 20 people at the meeting.
They were all very friendly and my talk seemed to go down really well.

All in all it was a great night out.
Makes me realise why I still do talks like this.

Thanks for inviting me guys.
Best of luck with the club going forward.
I have added your Web address to my list of clubs on the right.


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Daylight Slim Crescent Venus

by on Jun.10, 2012, under Astronomy Blog

At last, we had a clear day to try and get the thin crescent Venus in the daytime.
I let my good friend Kevin know I was going to go out, so he decided to make the trip up to view it as well.

So the pressure was on.

I set up the scope with EQMOD and run the planetarium software, I carefully centred The Sun in the field of view.

Once centred, I slew the scope over to the place where Venus was. No sign!
I had to repeat this step three times, until I finally spotted the thin crescent planet wobbling around in the field of view.
Less than 7 degrees from the Sun, and only 0.7% illuminated by the Sun, I knew it would be a challenge.
But excitedly, there it was!

I attached the webcam and managed to capture a couple of very wobbly avi’s to produce an image.

I watched as the image of Venus lightened and disappeared as high altitude clouds built up.
Kev was already on his way and I was afraid that he would have come all this way to see just clouds!

Fortunately when he arrived the clouds cleared a bit and we were rewarded with some great views of the thin crescent shaking in the field of view, with bright spider-web gossamer drifting through the field of view.

A great morning, good to catch up with Kev again, but Venus – WOW – WHAT A VIEW!!!

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