Friday, October 5, 2018

October 2018

October 11th 1945 GMT

After a cloudy day with rain, it was amazingly clear in the evening. Oh no, not another Melotte 20, you think. I went for a few widefield shots at ISO 6400, 8 seconds exposure and 70mm focal length. I was pleasantly surprised to capture M34 in the same photo. It also shows the value of snapping deep sky objects at a variety of focal lengths.

I stacked another set of frames.

I wanted to go for the constellation of Triangulum but the intervalometer started playing up. My aim was on a par with England away to Croatia on 12th but I caught a couple of frames of M34 by mistake!

October 10th 1730 GMT

There was a very thin crescent moon low in the west, so I tried to photograph it. The best result was ISO 400 and 1/200th second exposure.

October 10th 1130 GMT

The Sun was still quiet, even in hydrogen alpha light. I took some full disc shots plus one or two close-ups.

October 6th 2145 GMT

Well this was the big one! Mars was up but with humid air and a low battery, I did not feel like taking my PC outside, so did a DSLR shoot instead. I started off with the Pleiades (M45) with 200mm focal length, ISO 6400 and 2 seconds exposure, except that I didn’t. I forgot to adjust the focal length, so my first few shots were of 70mm focal length before I corrected them.

On to Melotte 20, another one of my deep sky favourites and things seemed to be going well until I was having problems with my intervalometer. Undaunted, I carried on with some shots manually.

I’d never snapped Aries before, so shortened the focal length to 70mm and increased the exposure time to 8 seconds. It was also around this time that I triggered the DSLR manually, with one hand, while bin scanning with the other. Initially, the view of the Pleiades (M45) and Hyades were good but not as exceptional as I’d seen before. However, when I turned to the Andromeda Galaxy: wow! I could even see light and dark patches and the full extent of the outer regions. As for the Pinwheel (M33), I’d never had such a good view in binoculars. I could see the centre as well as the outlying regions and it had never appeared so large. Of course, M31 and M33 were much higher in the sky. Also, the light pollution was minimal. They had replaced one streetlight with one recommended by astronomers and the other was out of action. I decided to try forM81 and M82, even though they were unfavourably placed. I saw M81, just. I could also make out the Auriga clusters M36, 37 and 38.

I thought about trying an audacious attempt to catch M33 widefield on camera. Yes I did! It was my first ever. It is near the bottom and to the right of centre.

Keeping the same settings, I aimed at  the Hyades.

I brought the camera indoors and managed to reset the intervalometer. I took the camera to the back and left it to catch Lyra. 

I stacked over 200 images but the final composite image did not show it! The first 50 frames did and it is near the bottom.

October 6th 2100 GMT

After a wet day, the sky cleared, somewhat earlier than the weather forecast predicted. I started off with some frames (hopefully, this time!) around the Pole Star. I used 70mm focal length, ISO 400 and 30 seconds exposure.

Got it with a faint engagement ring.

October 3rd 1115 GMT

The Sun was still quiet but I saw some shading in the photo.

October 1st 1025 GMT

The Sun looked really quiet but I took some shots in hydrogen alpha light just in case.

October 1st 0645 GMT

I did a lunar shoot with my DSLR. The moon was well-placed, high in the west. Unfortunately, my focus did not hit the spot.

Monday, September 3, 2018

September 2018

September 29th 2230 GMT

I did a session with the Moon and the Bresser Electronic Eyepiece. It seemed to go well but Mars was partially shrouded in cloud and the air was very unsteady.

September 29th 2010 GMT

After shooting a few darks, I aimed my camera at Vega. I used 70mm focal length, ISO 6400 and 10 seconds’ exposure. I wanted a constellation shot but was also hoping for a meteor or few.I missed Lyra but caught a meteor.

September 29th 1225 GMT

I checked the Sun in a clear sky. There appeared to be some features on the disc.

September 28th 2130 GMT

Evening conditions had changed little from the preceding days. I snapped a few frames of the Moon with my DSLR.

The Pleaides (M45) were in a misty area of sky and showed about a dozen stars through my binoculars. The Andromeda Galaxy (M31) looked surprisingly good under the conditions and I could see some albedo features in the central bulge.

September 27th 2050 GMT

There was lots cloud about but I was able to get some shots of the Moon with my DSLR.

September 27th  1115 GMT

The Sun was quiet again, even in hydrogen alpha light but I took a few full disc frames and close-ups. This time, I used a lens shield on my camera. I only caught two quadrants but was quite pleased with the result.

September 27th 0545 GMT

The waning gibbous moon was high in the west, so I snapped a few frames with my DSLR.

September 26th 2020 GMT

I had time for a quick session but I still had a few things to do before bedtime. As the Moon was up, I took a few full disc shots with my DSLR. I stacked the best 12 frames.

I decided to have a binocular scan, as deep sky photography was out of the question. I started off with the Wild Duck Cluster (M11), a possible target for clearer nights. Saturn showed its rings but I could not quite make out the gap between the rings and planets.

Mars showed a disc, that was all. Melotte 20 was nicely placed and looked great, despite the moonlight. I could even see the Pleaides (M45) low in the east and I had to “trespass” on my neighbours’ lawns to get it above the trees. I finished with the Andromeda Galaxy (M31) and could even make out some structure.

September 26th 1110 GMT

I checked the Sun with my PST. Although I could not see any prominences, the disc looked quite active. I tried some quadrant shots in addition to the full disc ones. Thew results showed that I needed more practice but I still uncovered some details that were not visible in the full disc image.

September 25th 2015 GMT

There was quite a bit of cloud about so I just did some DSLR lunar shots.

September 25th 1115 GMT

Visually, there were some albedo features on the solar disc, so I hoped for something interesting on the photos.

September 24th 2025 GMT

As I needed an early night, I just took some full disc shots of the Moon with just the DSLR.

September 24th 1020 GMT

The Sun was quiet in hydrogen alpha light again.

September 23rd 2130 GMT

The Moon was nearly full and had cleared our house, as seen from the back garden. I started off with a few dozen exposures with my Mak and DSLR. I used 1.54m focal length, ISO 100 and 1/1000 second exposure.

I took a few runs with my Mak and Bresser Electrronic Eyepiece, then turned my attention to Mars. I could clearly see it on my laptop screen! I saw what looked like some albedo features and an ice cap, then my PC crashed.

I restarted my PC and did a few imaging runs of Mars and seemed to catch something. Although the disc was small, I caught some albedo features, with the third effort being the best.

I then revisited the Moon until my laptop froze and I was starting to freeze myself. I decided to quite while I was ahead.

September 21st 0925 GMT

There was some moving cloud but the forecast for later was worse. Therefore, I grabbed a shot of the Sun, even though it was (again!) quiet.

September 17th 2025 GMT

The sky was clear but I had an early start the next day. I took some snaps of the Moon with Saturn then some of the Moon alone. 

I combined the two to get this.


September 17th 1455 GMT

I had some rare clear sky, so snapped the Sun in hydrogen alpha light. There appeared to be some shading.

September 15th 0820 GMT

The weather forecast for later was bad, so I did an early solar hydrogen alpha shoot. I could not see any detail visually, so I hoped that my camera might reveal something. It took some time but managed to catch a nice filament.

September 13th 1945 GMT

I popped out to have a look and found that the Moon was too low for telescopic photography but I could snap it using a hand-held DSLR. Unfortunately, none of the shots worked.

I then re-tried the pole shot from the night before. I managed to hit the right spot.

September 12th 2015 GMT

I decided to have another go at the polar regions. I used ISO 6400, 300mm focal length and 10 seconds exposure. I started off with some dark frames.

I missed Polaris but caught a meteor on film.

... and another one.

I stacked the first hundred photos but had to use Microsoft ICE, as Deep Sky Stacker did not like my images.

I was convinced that one trail was a satellite, rather than a meteor but I was not sure what this was.

I managed to stack the last 51 images to get a deep image of the region.

September 12th 2006 GMT

I was surveying the sky, looking for potential targets when I saw a meteor in the corner of my eye. It was in the Cygnus/Aquila area, so may have been a Kappa Cygnid.

September 9th

It was nice to have some clear sky again but the Sun was still quiet.

September 7th 0650 GMT

The Sun had cleared the trees but was still quiet.

September 7th 0545 GMT

I snapped a thin crescent moon with my DSLR.

September 6th 0505 GMT

I did a dawn raid on the Moon with my DSLR.

September 3rd 1100 GMT

At last some clear sky when I was at home!

The Sun was quiet yet again, even in hydrogen alpha light.

I also took some snaps of the Moon with my DSLR, although there was a lot of haze. It took a lot of processing to get any detail at all.