Archive for February, 2017

Comets to finish off Doris’ Day. 23rd February 2017.

by on Feb.24, 2017, under Astronomy Blog

After a day of storm Doris battering the country, it cleared to a reasonable evening.
I got out ready for Comet 5P Encke, but by the time the clouds cleared, it was far too low in the western sky.

Once properly clear, I slewed the scope over to capture P45 Honda-Mrkos-Pajduáková.
It was in the constellation of Coma Berenices and heading towards Leo.

Comet45PDenoiseIt is huge! I had to use my 80mm refractor to get most of it in.

I then went across to Comet C/2015 V2  Johnson.

This is a much smaller compact comet, with a slightly curved tail. This cropped image was taken using the 190 Mak-Newt.


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Comet 45P/Honda-Mrkos-Pajdusakova

by on Feb.19, 2017, under Astronomy Blog

Comet 45P/Honda-Mrkos-Pajdusakova is now easily visible in late evening / morning sky (When the clouds allow us to view it).
Moving rapidly northwards the comet has lost the tail it had prior to perihelion, which occurred on New Years Eve 2016.
It passed closest to Earth  on the 11th of February, passing less than 12.5 million kilometres away.

Despite losing the tail, its post perihelion appearance has swollen markedly, showing a large bright green coma.
Its close proximity to the Earth means its apparent movement is very rapid. If you are taking images, they will have to be fairly short to stop the comet blurring, unless you can guide on the comet nucleus itself.

45P’s magnitude hasn’t quite reached predictions, but it is still a healthy 7th magnitude, so is easily followed in binoculars or a small telescope. Some recent images show that it may be starting to develop a straight ion tail.

This stunning Image by F. H. Hemmerich shows the tail really well and was Astronomy Picture of the Day on the 12th of February.

Image result for comet 45p

Use the map below to find the comet as it passes through Coma Berenices and into Leo.
Its magnitude will quickly fade as it recedes from the Sun and Earth.
Let’s hope for some clear skies now…

Click here for a bigger map.


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Solar Observing and Imaging Workshop. Saturday 25th March 2017.

by on Feb.19, 2017, under Astronomy Blog


Following swiftly after yesterdays highly successful Telescope Workshop, preparations are now in hand for my Solar Observing and Imaging Workshop to be held in Higham Ferrers.

Details of the content covered in this hands-on workshop are further down the page.

Date: 25th March 2017.
Time: 10:00am – 3:00pm.
Venue: Hope Methodist Church,
Linnets Lane,
Higham Ferrers.
NN10 8DE.
(Just off Queensway).

Cost: £29.

Click on the Paypal button below to secure your place.


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The day is limited to 15 delegates, so I can give quality time to each delegate as required.

This latter part of this workshop  will involve lots of hands-on image processing, so a Windows based laptop will be essential on the day. Photoshop, or another image processing package would be extremely beneficial.
Please Note: The software used is all Windows based, so an Apple Mac will not run the software directly.

Solar Imaging and Imaging Workshop Outline.
I will adapt the workshop according to the attendees needs on the day, but below is the overall outline of the day and the subjects I intend to cover:
Solar Observing. – Obviously, this will be completely dependent on the weather on the day. It will give delegates the opportunity to look through and compare different solar setups to see what each type involves and the views that can be obtained with each one.
The Equipment used to observe the Sun safely. – The different types of telescopes and how they can be used safely for solar observing and the accessories used for solar observing and using them effectively.
Imaging the Sun. –  How to take images of the Sun using a monochrome Webcam. I will touch on using a DSLR, but they are not ideal, especially for narrow-band imaging like Hydrogen Alpha.
Processing Solar Images. –  How to use image processing software, Autostakkert!!, Registax and Photoshop to get the very best out of your images.

I will always take the requirements of my delegates into account and will try and cover anything related that they would like to know more about upon request. So just ask.

As part of the workshop I will be supplying all the software for this hands-on workshops and practise images for delegates to use and take away.

You will need to bring your own packed lunch on the day, although we are just around the corner from the local shops, where most items can be purchased.

Tea, coffee, soft drinks and biscuits will be available on the day for donations to raise money for our local breast cancer charity Crazy Hats.

HaSunFullDisk20160515Here’s what people have said about my previous workshops:

“Brilliant course Dave I actually learned what I had hoped for plus more – I think there was enough content for two days – the hands on practical stuff was just what I needed too – I learned loads today – thank you for aiming it to what we wanted to achieve.”

“Just a quick note to say thank you very much for the course the other Saturday. It’s finally got me going with Deep Sky Stacker, and being able to get something out of the photos with Photoshop. Once again, many thanks, your insights were really helpful and made for a very enjoyable day.”

“Thanks Dave for your advice and kind words, as you say the course is just the start and we can all learn from each other. All fired up now for the next imaging session and the next course. Dave you really have been an inspiration and great help”.
“Thanks for a great day at the workshop. Hopefully I took most of the information in and can retrieve it when needed 🙂 Anyway I learnt a great deal and things aren’t quite as dark now.”
“An excellent workshop once again – I gained a lot out of this and two nice pictures.  I was chuffed they were my subs resulting in my images”.
“I would recommend Dave’s new Astrophotography Workshop to all, he brings together knowledge and enthusiasm, passing it on to those of all skill levels.”
“I was so looking forward to this ‘hands- on’ course and it lived up to beyond my expectations – I was so enthused I carried on when I got home – thanks Dave you have the patience of a saint – can’t wait for the next one!”
“Thank you again for a well run workshop and I would be very interested in any other workshops you may have in the pipe line. As you said a lot to take on. As I’m new to all of this but I come away from the workshop knowing a lot more than before.”

More workshops, including a Photoshop processing workshop, will be held later in the year.

If you would like me to organise an astronomical imaging workshop for your astronomical society at a suitable venue closer to you, please let me know.

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Pluto – Nene Valley AS – 20th February 2017

by on Feb.13, 2017, under Astronomy Blog

On Monday the 20th of February I will be re-visiting my old friends and neighbours, Nene Valley Astronomical Society.

This time I will be speaking about the discovery of Pluto, it’s demotion from planet status and looking at the incredible results from the stunning NASA New Horizons mission which shot past in July 2015.

Meeting starts at 8pm.

Venue: Chelveston Village Hall, Chelveston, Northamptonshire.

So, if you are in the area, come along and say “Hello”.


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