Archive for June, 2016

Atlas V Launch from Cape Canaveral. 24th June 2016.

by on Jun.29, 2016, under Astronomy Blog

We have just returned from 2 weeks in Anna Maria Island in Florida.

Of course, I had to make the pilgrimage to The Space Coast to visit the Kennedy Space Centre.
We went up on the Wednesday, knowing full well that the postponed Atlas V launch was re-scheduled for the next morning. The visit was amazing, coming face to face with Space Shuttle Atlantis was very emotional. The last time I imaged this shuttle it was a very tiny black dot against the face of the Sun just after it separated from the ISS on its last mission STS-35 in 2011. Wow! How time flies…

Anyway, back to the morning of the launch. We extended our Space Centre tickets, staying close by overnight. Next morning we were transported back to the Saturn V display to view the launch. The atmosphere was incredible and everyone was extremely excited – Including me of course.

We were meant to have a live Internet countdown, but after all the “Go’s” announced the air went silent. As the clock hit 10:30am, the rocket went off like, well a rocket. It wasn’t hanging about, that’s for sure. Those strap on boosters were giving that MUOS-5 communications satellite a real kick to get it up into a geosynchronous orbit over the equator.
Find out more about the launch by clicking here.
I followed it as long as I could, taking pictures all the while hoping to see the solid boosters separate, but it launched against the glare of the Sun and I lost it in the glare before that happened.

It was an extremely quick getaway and my videos only show the launch itself.
I used two cameras and a Go-Pro to capture the footage (Footage to follow) and quite a few images.

But I also made time to sit and watch the spectacle as well.

I will post more pictures of the rest of our visit later, when the jet-lag subsides.

Here’s a few of my images of the launch.









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Celebrate Tim Peake’s Principia mission.

by on Jun.12, 2016, under Astronomy Blog

Following the great success of my recent Celebration of Tim Peake’s Principia evening, I have now adapted it as a shorter stand-alone presentation to take out to groups.

The presentation has been added to my current list of presentations shown here.

This presentation uses stunning graphics and movies as well as hands-on audience participation.

So if your club would like an entertaining and informative evening to Celebrate Tim Peake’s Principia mission, book me now.

E Mail me using this link.




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End of a fantastic Weekend.

by on Jun.06, 2016, under Astronomy Blog

The weekend started out with my Tim Peake Celebration evening on Friday.
It went down a storm. Great crowd, very interactive and fabulous fun to do.
Here’s a few pictures from the night.


TimPeake2TimPeake3In case you’re wondering, they are competing to peel a banana or tangerine with mock-up space gloves. Virtually destroyed the fruit rather than being able to eat it.

Sunday afternoon saw the Sun appear , so we had a very pleasant afternoon in the garden, with a barbie and a pint, while I was imaging the Sun in hydrogen alpha light. There’s lots going on despite the lack of sunspots at the moment. The hedgerow prominence was changing in form quite rapidly.

I will produce an animation as soon as I get time.


ActiveArea20160605AS_p60_Multi_Drizzle15_video0127 16-06-05 16-40-05_g3_b3_ap31-WSC-CompositeAS_p60_Multi_Drizzle15_video0142 16-06-05 17-21-36_g3_b3_ap38-WSC_Composite

Later in the evening, I watched the ISS go right overhead in bright twilight. It was much easier to see than I expected, with the sky was so bright. An hour and half later Tim & Co. popped across the sky again, looking very bright in the much darker sky.


At the end of the ISS apparition, Mars was just clearing the neighbours house. This was the first time this apparition that I have stayed up to view and image Mars as it appeared. Being so low down the image was wobbling all over the place. I took videos using my colour Philips webcam to capture the colour and my monochrome DMK camera to try and capture the detail on the surface.

The images combine quite well.
Mars-20160605-4If it stays clear, I might just stay up later and do a bit more. Maybe stay up late for Saturn as well.

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