Wednesday, July 3, 2019

July 2019

July 14th 2215 GMT

The moon was waxing gibbous and its haze was obscuring nearly all of the stars. I took some snaps of the Moon, Jupiter and Saturn with my Mak and DSLR. I originally intended to use my Bresser Electronic Eyepiece but I was having problems re-installing software on my PC.

After some experimentation, I settled on 1,54m focal length, ISO 100 and 1/1000 second exposure.on the full lunar disc.

I then used a 3x Barlow lens to deliver a focal length of 4.62m and adjusted the exposure to 1/300 second. I did several imaging runs.

July 13th 2140 GMT

It had been cloudy for most of the day but it was almost clear near the Moon. Jupiter was nearby. Although I caught the two objects close together, I could not capture Jupiter's moons in the Moon's glare.

One of the early frames caught both.

This was the best of the Moon shots.

Jupiter showed quite well in later frames, so I combined one with the Moon shot, above, to produce this:

I had bad focus and Jupiter's moons were lost in our moon's glare. so that was the final image.

July 12th 2145 GMT

The sky was partially clear. I took some photos of the Moon at ISO 400 300mm focal length and 1/4000 second exposure.

I took some frames of Jupiter's moons at ISO 6400 300mm focal length and 1 second exposure.

July 8th 2100 GMT

I used the same settings as the evening before to snap the Moon.

July 7th 2100 GMT

The Moon was about four days past new and a few features were visible in its crescent phase.

I took a set of shots at 1.54m focal length, ISO 100 and 1/100 second exposure.

I took further sets of shots at 4.62m focal length, ISO 400 and 1/50 second exposure, after a lot of fiddling. Unfortunately, I didn't get focus.

July 7th 1500 GMT

The Sun was high and the Big Bear images showed a plage and some filaments. I did not see anything with my PST but took a few photos in the hope of detecting something.

July 5th 2030 GMT

I took some photos of the thin crescent moon at 300mm focal length, ISO 6400 and 1/4000 second.

July 3rd 2130 GMT

I snapped Jupiter's moons using the usual settings. As it was still twilight, I processed the image by removing the red and blue channels and enhanced the contrast. I caught some background stars.

July 1st 2310 GMT

There were several minor meteor showers active in the south eastern sky. I saw a faint meteor from one of the two Aquilid showers travelling north at about 3rd magnitude.

Photographic conditions started well enough but cloud spread from the north, ending the session prematurely. I took several series of frames at 16mm focal length, ISO 6400 and 6 seconds exposure. This was aimed primarily at meteor photography but I sometimes obtain some constellation shots as a by-product.

First was Aquila with Sagitta and Delphinus and at least part of Vulpecula.

The second photo also caught Sagitta but most of the area was covered by Cygnus. I caught Vulpecula and recognised the Coathanger.

Sunday, June 9, 2019

June 2019

June 30th 2205 GMT

I did some shots of Jupiter's moons with my DSLR at 300mm focal length, ISO 6400 and 1 second exposure.

June 30th 2320 GMT

I did not have work the next day, so I decided to take a look at Jupiter and Saturn. I had not seen either for a while. 

I started with Jupiter at 77x magnification. The northern cloud belt was very clear but the southern one went in and out of view, due to atmospheric turbulence on our own planet. I increased the magnification to 231x, using a 3x Barlow lens but the planet and its moons were dancing in the eyepiece. I reverted to 77x magnification and concentrated for a while. The north cloud belt appeared to have a jagged edge but the south one was fainter and straight. I could see three moons but a fourth appeared from behind the planet's disc.

I took some afocal shots with my DSLR, almost as an afterthought, as my prime objective was visual.

I kept the same magnification level. as I moved to Saturn. It was nice to see the rings and I could make out a ring on the cloud tops but was not sure whether it was a cloud belt or the shadow of the rings. The Cassini Division was far from clear and there was no sign of Titan. I took some afocal shots again.

I returned to Jupiter and took some frames using my Mak and DSLR with 1.54m focal length, ISO 6400 and 0.4 seconds exposure. That was the last action of the session, as cloud moved in.

I combined the images from Jupiter and its moons.

June 28th 2200 GMT

I tried to snap Jupiter's moons but was struggling for stability and focus.

June 27th 2125 GMT

I took some frames of Jupiter with its moons but decreased the exposure times to 1 second on a few exposures because the sky was too light. With a bit of photo editing, I was able to show all four moons.

June 27th 1420 GMT

The Sun was quiet in hydrogen alpha light but I took some shots anyway.Very unusually, especially for June, it was my first attempt of the month!

June 22nd 0455 GMT

The Sun was up but I took some shots of the waning gibbous moon at ISO 6400, 300mm focal length and 1/4000 second exposure.

June 21st 2230 GMT

As I had work the next day, it was a quick session before bedtime. I snapped Jupiter at 300mm focal length, ISO 6400 and 2 seconds exposure in an attempt to capture its moons. I tried some short exposure shots of Jupiter and Saturn with some more 2 second exposure overhead.

Jupiter showed two moons and plenty of background stars.

I caught a hint of the cloud belts and a moon shadow.

Nothing came from the Saturn nor overhead shots.

June 15th 2230 GMT

The sky was clear-ish and I could see the Moon and Jupiter. I took 3 sets of frames:

The Moon at 300mm focal length, ISO 100 and 1/1000 second exposure. I stacked the best 3 frames.

The Moon with Jupiter at 70mm focal length, ISO 6400 and various exposures.I combined the result with the above image to get this.

Jupiter at 300mm focal length, ISO 6400 and various exposures.

June 14th 2220 GMT

I was late in from work, so did just a quick few frames of the Moon at 300mm focal length, ISO 100 and 1/1000 second exposure.

June 9th 2110 GMT

I repeated the Moon shot with the same settings from the night before.

June 9th 0000 GMT

The sky started cloudy but there were no clear patches left when I finished the session. I took a few constellation shots, more in hope than expectancy.

A dirty lens meant that I could not use all of the Cygnus/Lyra frame.

The Bootes shot was ruined by camera shake.

I had one nice frame of Ursa Minor and it was not too bad.

June 8th 2200 GMT

The Sun had set but there was still a lot of daylight lingering. I had another go at the Moon with 300mm focal length, ISO 100 and 1/250 second exposure.

June 8th 1820 GMT

I took some shots of the Moon with my DSLR at 300mm focal length, ISO 400 and 1/800 second exposure.

Friday, May 3, 2019

May 2019

May 28th 2230 GMT

I had a quick look outside. There was haze and light cloud everywhere, especially to the north. I bin scanned Jupiter but could not see any moons. I was able to recognise Melotte 111 but saw far less stars than I photographed on 26th. I could just make out the secondary component of Albireo. I also saw Alcor and Mizar, too, but only just. I saw no point in taking a camera out.

May 26th 2220 GMT

My original plan was to capture Jupiter's moons but (shock horror!) my remore shutter release had broken, Unwilling to cart my Maksutov out with a bad back, I proceeded straight to Part 2.

The sky was clear but in parts. The north was especially hazy but the south was most clear. I was hoping (very optimistically I must say) to catch a Tau Herculid meteor, while snapping some constellations. I started off badly, with lots of adjustments to the camera settings. I settled on 16mm focal length, ISO 6400 and 8 seconds exposure. Apart from the obvious targets, I tried to photograph Hercules, Serpens Caput and Coma Berenices. While checking, I saw several meteors, including some that appeared to be orbiting in formation and at 2325 GMT, I saw a meteor in Bootes that just might have been a shower meteor but was probably sporadic.

I started with a satellite trail.

Cassiopeia photographed reasonably well, despite the low elevation.

I caught a faint meteor above Lyra. It was probably sporadic.

Then there was a constellation shot of Lyra.

I also caught Bootes and Corona Borealis.

Those of you who follow me will be thinking "oh no, not again!" as you know that Cygnus and Lyra are two of my favourite constellations and this is a great patch of sky. Due to low elevation, the photo only shows the main constellation stars and not the rich Milky Way starfields that I usually capture when they are overhead, later in the year.

Next was Coma Berenices, with Melotte 111 (star cluster) in the bottom right corner.

Not all of Scorpius rises from England but I also caught Libra and Jupiter on camera. The low elevation caused the faint stars and the red glow.

Finally, I processed a few frames to get Serpens Caput.

May 25th 2240 GMT

Conditions were poor, with very few clear patches. Jupiter was low down and shining, so I was hoping to catch its moons.
I caught three.

May 23rd 2215 GMT

I attempted to capture Jupiter's moons with my DSLR at 300mm focal length, ISO 6400 and 2 seconds exposure. Although I caught the moons on several frames, they were all ruined by camera shake. It was a case of waiting for the next opportunity.

May 23rd 2130 GMT

I was not sure when Jupiter was due to rise. I checked the conditions and watched a bright pass of the ISS.

May 20th 2215 GMT

The Moon and Jupiter were low down. I used my DSLR at 300mm focal length. ISO 100 and 1/100 seconds exposure. I then reset the focal length to 70mm and tried different exposures to capture both objects together. I then tried to capture Jupiter with its moons but it looked too cloudy to get a result.

I combined the above image with that of the Moon and Jupiter together but, although I caught Jupiter's moons, it was a very poor image.


May 19th 2305 GMT

Conditions were rather poor, with lots of cloud. I proceeded anyway with a shot of the nearly full moon. Nothing worked.

May 17th 2310 GMT

I did another shot with my DSLR of the Moon with the usual settings,

May 16th 1100 GMT


The sunspot was rotating near the solar limb. I took a photo using the same settings as usual.
I had another go at the Sun in hydrogen alpha light. I had been having difficulties with solar hydrogen alpha light because there had not been many features. As a small feature was there, as I could make out some faculae visually with my PST, I tried some photos, experimenting with camera focussing.


May 15th 2025 GMT


There was time for a quick Moon shot before bedtime. I reduced the exposure time to 1/640 second.


May 15th 1015 GMT

I checked the Sun with my DSLR and filters at my usual settings.

May 14th 2110 GMT

It was a bit hazy but I had a go at the Moon anyway. I used my DSLR at 300mm focal length, ISO 100 and 1/800 second exposure.

May 14th 0550 GMT

The Sun was low, so I increased the exposure time to 1/1600 second when I did my DSLR shot. Unfortunately, I did not detect any sunspots.

May 13th 2105 GMT

It was hazy but the Moon was high in the sky. I took some frames at 300mm focal length, ISO 100 and 1/800 second exposure.

May 13th 1120 GMT

I repeated the solar shoot with my DSLR and filters.

May 13th 2315 GMT

I took some Moon shots with my DSLR and Mak at 1.54m focal length, ISO 100 1/100 seconds exposure. Then I took close-ups at 4.62m with exposures of 1/10 then 1/6 seconds exposure.

May 12th 2115 GMT

I repeated the Moon shot but with ISO setting of 100.

May 12th 1715 GMT

I took a few shots of the Moon in daylight at 300mm focal length, ISO 400 and 1/500 second exposure.

May 12th 1210 GMT

I managed to capture the large sunspot "on film" with my DSLR 300mm focal length, ISO 100 and 1/4000 second exposure. I also used my Baader filter.

May 11th 2210 GMT

The Moon was almost at first quarter and I repeated the shot from the evening before.

May 11th 1230 GMT

I bin scanned the Sun through a gap in the clouds and noted that the sunspot had rotated.

May 10th 2230 GMT

I caught the Moon through a gap in the clouds at 300mm focal length, ISO 400 and 1/1000 second exposure.

May 10th 1000 GMT

Conditions were poor, with lots of moving cloud of various thicknesses. I bin scanned the Sun but only saw one of the sunspots that I had seen on the Big Bear and Learmonth observatory images.

May 6th 0940 GMT

I used my DSLR and solar filter to capture the Sun. Focal length was 300mm, brightness ISO 100 and 1/4000 second exposure.

Unfortunately, my focus was slightly off and I only saw a faint hint of the sunspot on the images.

May 5th 2215 GMT

I had a rather fortunate short session as the weather and forecast had been bad all day. There was cloud and haze, so I decided to do some visuals with my 15x70 binoculars. Obviously, I went straight for the Beehive (M44). It never ceases to amaze me photographically or visually. M35 was lost in the murk (no surprises there either!). Melotte 20 was as badly placed as it gets from the UK but was still a pleasant sight. I was also delighted to see both globular clusters in Hercules: M13 and M92. I tried to catch M29 in Cygnus but haze and distinction stopped it. Thin and thick cloud started to encroach from both east and west, so that was that.

May 4th 2130 GMT

Either it was not quite dark or there was lots of extinction near the horizon. I would have probably gone out later but I had work the next day. I set my DSLR to 70mm focal length, ISO 6400 and 8 seconds exposure. My targets were M35, the Beehive (M44), Melotte 20, the constellation of Lyra, M29 in Cygnus and an audacious attempt at the galaxies M81 and M82 near the Plough (Big Dipper).

My first image was the Beehive (M44).

I didn't get M35, despite two attempts to aim my camera at it. It expect it to be the last opportunity of the spring, as it was getting really close to the Sun. However, the attempt was not a total waste of time, as I captured some nice star fields in the Milky Way.

Melotte 20 showed well, as usual.

Naturally, I was pleased with Lyra.

I didn't catch M29 but caught a few stars in the area.

No, I didn't get M81 nor M82 but the area in Ursa Major looked nice anyway.

There was also a meteor in one of the last set of frames.

May 4th 1640 GMT

There was some clear sky. The Sun looked quiet in hydrogen alpha light but I had a go anyway with my PST and DSLR.

May 3rd 2300 GMT

I had an unexpected clear spell for a while. Without any whole constellations on show, I did a shot of Melotte 111 with my DSLR at 70mm, ISO 6400 and 8 seconds exposure. I managed to get a few frames in before cloud moved in. Rather than inwardly moaning, I was glad to manage anything at all on a poor night. I kept half an eye open for Scorpiid and late Lyrid meteors, The odds were against it and I did not notice any sporadic meteors either.