Archive for January, 2013

Meeting of Bedford AS – 30th January 2012

by on Jan.31, 2013, under Astronomy Blog

I attended the monthly meeting of Bedford Astronomical Society last night.

The main speaker was John Lyle from ARUP who are the main contractors for the building that will house the E-ELT.
This European Southern Observatory project is being funded by many countries (As soon as everyone agrees to pay!), so it really is an International Project.

More details about the telescope are here.

I then did a run down of the coming months night sky highlights. Also for good measure I put in detail about the two Comets that are expected this year: PANSTARRS in March-April and ISON  November – January.
For more details see my previous posts:

Two Bright Comets for 2013?

Possible Appearance of PANNSTARS and ISON

Darren Jehan then reminisced of his two visits (with Stargazers Lounge) to Patrick Moore’s House Farthings to renovate his observatories. A great man who will be sorely missed by the astronomical community.




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Comet ISON C/2012 S1 – 15th January 2013

by on Jan.15, 2013, under Astronomy Blog

Being such a clear night, I thought I would try and bag Comet ISON as it was so close to Castor in Gemini.
At 16th magnitude, I didn’t think I had a hope.

But if you don’t try.
My trusty C2A software led me from Castor to the field the comet should have been in. I took 15x 2 minute exposures and stacked them on the comet, which I could see slowly moving almost in the centre of the field of view.

The comet is round and the stars are trailed. RESULT!!! Get in there!

Here is the whole field with the subs stacked on the stars cropped in the area around the comet, showing some faint galaxies in the same field of view. The comet looks trailed in this image.

I’d like to know the magnitude of the galaxy marked “?” in my image.
A much tighter crop of the area shows the comets trail distinctly.

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A Close Shave – 2012 DA14 – 15th February 2013.

by on Jan.12, 2013, under Astronomy Blog

On the 15th of February a big lump of rock will pass extremely close to the Earth.
So close in fact that it will come closer in than the geosynchronous satellites.
Now that’s close!

Asteroid 2012 DA14 was discovered in February 2012 and is about 45 meters in diameter and will pass close to the Earth at a distance of only 13,870 miles.


Moving northwards it starts the evening too far south for us to see. It will be at its closest to Earth at about 18:00h on the 15th of February, when it will be too far south for us to see in the UK. For those further south who will be able to view it will probably disappear into the Earth’s shadow for about 18 minutes, 4 minutes after its closest approach.
At this time it should be at about magnitude 7.4 and at its closest the the Earth. So although it won’t be visible to the naked eye  (just), it should be easily visible in binoculars or a small telescope as a fairly bright “star” moving northwards through the background stars.

For those further south who will be able to view it will probably disappear into the Earth’s shadow for about 18 minutes, 4 minutes after its closest approach.



Unfortunately my prediction software failed to take account of the gravitational effect of the Earth on the objects orbit as it passed the Earth. My prediction published here previously was about 2 hours behind.

I have now run an ephemeris using the HORIZONS Web site for my location in mid UK:

The asteroid rises just after 19:50h that evening with an apparent magnitude of 7.59.
Heading quickly north, it passes to the east of Denebola in the tail of Leo at around 20:00h, by this time it has faded to 8th magnitude.

By 20:20 it will be passing through or very close to Melotte 111, the star cluster in Coma Berenices.

At 21:00h it will have faded to magnitude 8.6 and be located in Canes Venatici and still heading swiftly north.

It will cross through the handle of The Plough around 21:32h, now just below 9th magnitude.

Thankfully the BAA Minor planets section has produced a prediction based on a location on the south coast of the UK and produced two very fine finder charts for that evening.


Below are their images of the predicted path that evening:

Chart for Feb 15, 19:50-21:00 UT:


Chart for Feb 15, 21:00 – Feb 16, 01:00 UT:



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Work Trip to Wales. – Most fruitful.

by on Jan.11, 2013, under Astronomy Blog

I had yet another trip to Wales. So I took my camera and new lens along with me in hope. This was the first time I had enjoyed a trip to the much darker skies of Wales without rain or the full Moon. So I made the most of my evenings as they were clear.

A view of Tresaith from the beach with Orion rising behind.


The view from the same vantage point out to sea.


The plough near the cliffs from the same beach.


Orion passing between trees.

The Milky Way in all its glory.



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BBC Stargazing Live

by on Jan.08, 2013, under Astronomy Blog

Stargazing Live starts tonight on BBC 2.

Don’t forget to attend some of the stargazing live events organised near you.

I will be involved with two of the three events organised by Northampton Natural History Society.

More details on their Web site: http://www.nnhs.info/astro/

The details of their events are below.
To find an event near you, go to the Stargazing Live website below:
Stargazing Live Website.

To register, please click click here. We will try and post any changes or updates to the events on this webpage.


19 January, 18:00-20:00. Salcey Forest, Hartwell

Apologies, but due to the icy weather and snow forecast for the end of this week, the event at Salcey Forest has had to be cancelled.
Please feel very welcome to come along to our next meeting.

To contact us, click here

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5th January 2013 – Comet LINEAR & Trapezium

by on Jan.06, 2013, under Astronomy Blog

A brief clear spell and I was ready.
Setup on Comet LINEAR C/2012 K5 first to get a few subs this time for a better image.

Then used the 5x Powermate with the DSLR to try and get a close up of the Trapezium in The Great Orion Nebula. You cannot almost see the other two trapezium stars as blobs on the side of the brighter stars.

Two nights. Two clear spells.
Just need a clear all-nighter now to really get in the mood.


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First session of 2013.

by on Jan.05, 2013, under Astronomy Blog

The clouds finally parted at a time when I was able to get out and do some astronomy.
It seems such a long time ago since I’ve been out.

I wanted to test my new 10-20mm lens that my wife gave me money towards for my combined Xmas & birthday prezzie.

Despite the light pollution from my back garden I was able to reveal the Milky way stretching right from Gemini (Open Star Cluster M35 is down in bottom right), into Cygnus (Deneb top left).

I see that I am going to have so much fun with this lens…

I then set the scope up to take an image of Comet C/LINEAR 2012K5.
It was in the southern part of Auriga and just visible in my main scope as a hazy smudge.
Unfortunately, just as I got 3 images in the bag, it clouded over again bringing my great observing start to 2013 to a crashing halt.

A small taster of what might be coming later in the year?




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