Thursday, August 1, 2013

August 2013

Aug 31st 1030 GMT

Same story with my PST. There was lots of activity on the solar disc, with lots of filaments and a detached prominence but I didn’t feel too confident about what I had caught on camera.

The results were OK, though.

Aug 31st 1020 GMT

I checked the Sun through my Mak and filters and saw several sunspots. It was (reluctantly) time to admit that the last remaining compact digital camera in the house was kaput, so I tried afocal projection with the DSLR instead. I made a drawing, just in case.

Unfortunately, I needed the drawing.

Aug 31st 0100 GMT

I had another go ay the same subjects and also tried for Aries and Triangulum.

The close-ups were out of focus but Perseus, Aries and Triangulum stacked well.

Aug 31st 0030 GMT

After a cloudy day, there were some clear patches, so I attempted to photograph Perseus, Melotte 20 and the Pleiades using my DSLR and tripod.

Now I really MUST find some way of improving my pointing accuracy! The first shot shows only part of Perseus but not a bad rendition of Melotte 20.

I caught a part of Melotte 20 showing part of the chain of stars but I was too far north.

I didn't catch any part of the Pleiades whatsoever but thought it was nice to see a group of stars, somewhere in and around Taurus. As I'd zoomed in, there was some trailing.

Aug 29th 0950 GMT

Conditions were rather tricky but, as I was back home, I took my Mak outside, only to find that my compact digital camera was functionally challenged (it <expletive> well didn't work!).

I did a drawing of the sunspots and reversed it to make it consistent with more recent drawings.

Aug 28th 0050 GMT

I snapped the Moon with my DSLR from my hotel window.

Aug 27th 1630 GMT

A solar bin scan showed a single large sunspot that had rotated onto the solar disc.

Aug 26th 0610 GMT

I checked the Sun through filtered binoculars but didn't see any sunspots.

Aug 20th 1950 GMT

There was a lot of haze, so I just photographed the Moon, taking 18 frames at 1/4000th second exposure and stacked and processed them.

Aug 19th 2030 GMT

I went out just after dark local time in Dusseldorf. The Moon was low and there was some thin cloud about. I took several frames of the Moon with my DSLR alone and stacked the best four.

I also took a photo of the main asterism of Delphinus and another showing part of Delphinus and Sagitta and the now imfamous Nova Delphinii.

Aug 19th

I reprocessed a Jupiter shot from September 26th 2011.

Aug 16th 2145 GMT

I checked the skies for Nova Delphinii and could see it clearly in 15x70 binoculars and would place it brighter than the 5.0 magnitude estimates around (more like mag 4.5). I didn’t try to photograph it, as there was a lot of cloud.

Aug 16th 2100 GMT

The Moon was low in the south west and I took several shots: full disc and close-ups with my DSLR and more close-ups with the webcam without a Barlow lens.

Aug 16th 1615 GMT

A look through my Coronado PST showed sunspots, both surrounded by plages and 3 large filaments but no prominences.

I took some full disc frames at 1/50 and 1/100 second exposures. Unfortunately, none of the shots showed the same detail that I could see.

Aug 16th 1240 GMT

Conditions for solar viewing were worse than the day before and I just saw a single sunspot, although it was likely that smaller ones were present.

Aug 15th 1640 GMT

I bin scanned the Sun through moving cloud and saw quite a lot of sunspot activity, with one particularly large one.

Aug 14th 2310 GMT

I went out with my DSLR to try and catch some Perseid meteors. I took some star trails near Polaris, a few exposures aimed at Cepheus and some noctilucent clouds. The Cepheus shots only showed part of the constellation, as my aim was more at Cassiopeia.

Aug 12th 2115 GMT

I spotted a fireball in Aquila. It seemed a long way from the radiant but was travelling in the right direction. I saw 5 others, some as bright as magnitude 1. I did some constellation shots of Ophiuchus and a star trail near the radiant. One of the star trail images shows part of a meteor track but it was only visible in the red channel.

Aug 12th 0016 GMT

I had been checking to see if the sky was clear several times and I looked out for another check at 0016 GMT and spotted a bright fireball travelling north.

Immediately, I was out with my camera and took some star trail exposures in the hope of catching a Perseid on film. However, conditions were rather difficult. While aiming my camera at Polaris (where there was a clear-ish patch of sky), I saw 2 faint meteors in Perseus at 0035 GMT but conditions were so bad that I couldn't see the directions, as I only saw part of the trail. Similarly, at 0038 GMT, I saw part of a trail pass Capella and was of similar brightness and another faint one in Perseus.

At 0046 GMT, an incredibly bright fireball, at least magnitude -10 travelled west. I had my camera in the approximate direction but early indications suggested that I hadn't captured it on camera.

The only photo that worked was a star trail one of Perseus.

Aug 9th 2250 GMT

I went out, hoping to catch some Perseids but the sky was quite cloudy overall. I took some snaps of the Pegasus/Aquarius part of sky and some longer (star trailing) exposures around the Perseid radiant. I also took some 30 second exposures of Cassiopeia. As luck would have it, I saw a Perseid about magnitude 0 at 2317 GMT. I saw sporadic meteors in Andromeda at 2305 GMT (faint) and 2318 (magnitude 1). I also saw a bright sporadic meteor in Cygnus at 2320 GMT.

I was hoping that an unseen meteor would reveal itself in the photos but, unfortunately, none appeared. I decided, contrary to popular opinion, that the star trails that show the constellation shapes look best.

Aug 9th 1150 GMT

It cleared enough to see the Sun in hydrogen and there was a large filament.

I’d been struggling with solar hydrogen alpha photography since the old camera packed up but I had a go with the DSLR. The overall shoot was disappointing but I did capture the filament.

Aug 9th 1120 GMT

I checked the Sun with the Mak and filters but didn’t see a single sunspot. I took some full disc snaps anyway to see what would happen. I managed to find two faint sunspots in the images.

I took my PST out straight afterwards but clouds rolled in.


Aug 8th 1020 GMT

I bin scanned the Sun through moving cloud and spotted two sunspots.

Aug 7th 2005 GMT

I managed to find Venus in my binoculars and estimated its phase at about 85%. However, due to cloud and low elevation, an attempted webcam imaging run didn't happen.

Aug 5th 1230 GMT

I spotted a single sunspot through the clouds but suspect that fainter ones were present and I just couldn't see them.

Aug 4th 0100 GMT

I had the same idea as before and saw a clear patch around Perseus but, this time, the constellation had fully risen and I could see the Pleiades (M45). I took a few frames before cloud moved in, then a single frame of Ursa Minor before that, too was clouded out.

No meteors to report this time but it is possible that there were some fainter ones obscured by cloud.


Aug 4th 2350 GMT

I went out again to try some constellation shots and hunt for meteors. I tried the Aries/Triangulum area then Perseus but I wasn’t able to take many frames before cloud moved in. The Perseus frames didn't work at all, while the attempted Aries/Triangulum caught them (just) but captured the whole of Andromeda as well. Unfortunately, the focus was poor.

On the meteor front I saw:

2352 GMT mag 4 north
2354 GMT mag 4 north west
2358 GMT mag 4 south west

Aug 3rd 2215 GMT

I went out with the intention of doing a few constellation shots and checking for Perseid meteors. I saw one bright fireball with a persistent trail at 2222 GMT but no others.

I attempted shots of Aquila, Perseus, Cassiopeia and the Square of Pegasus. I also tried a longer exposure to get some star trails around Perseus and Cassiopeia but some cloud moved in. The Perseus shots were aimed too high, so I just ended up with more Cassiopeia frames. The Aquila shot also shows Delphinus and Sagitta and parts of Pisces are visible in the Square of Pegasus shot.


Aug 3rd 2010 GMT

I saw Venus just after sunset. As it was wet, I didn’t fancy taking my laptop out, so I tried to photograph Venus in the dusk sky with my DSLR. Unfortunately, the sky was too bright for Venus to register.

Aug 3rd 1230 GMT

A further attempt to bin scan the Sun revealed just one sunspot, even though it was quite clear.


Aug 3rd 1050 GMT

I bin scanned the Sun through moving cloud but didn’t see any sunspots, probably because the conditions were too bad. In fact, I caught a shower while putting the bins and filters away.


Aug 3rd 0400 GMT

I saw the Moon and Jupiter together in the dawn sky, so photographed them at various exposure settings. Automatic settings worked best but it needed a lot of processing to bring Jupiter out of the dawn background.

Aug 3rd 0010 GMT

Conditions were far from ideal for either constellation photography nor meteor spotting but I had a go anyway. I took one frame of Lyra before cloud moved in and four of Cassiopeia. I hoped to try Perseus but the whole constellation was not visible at the same time. I didn't capture much colour, so I just used the green channel for the Lyra shot and the blue for the 4 Cassiopeia shots. Remarkably, stacking and discarding the red channel removed the clouds.

Although it is possible that I could have missed a meteor, I didn’t see any. 

Aug 2nd 1550 GMT

A solar binocular scan revealed that one sunspot had rotated off, whilst another had appeared near the centre of the solar disc.

Aug 1st 2010 GMT

I saw Venus through my 127mm Maksutov but was unable to get the webcam on it before it got too low. I estimated the phase at about 85%.

Aug 1st 1110 GMT

I checked the Sun with the PST for a hydrogen alpha view. There were two small prominences, an active region near one of the sunspots and a nice filament.

I took some shots with my compact digital camera and DSLR, more in hope than expectancy. The prominences didn't come out so well, although they were better in the DSLR shots. The surface detail showed better in the compact digital camera shot, so I combined the two.

Aug 1st 0720 GMT

August started off clear and the Sun and Moon were both well clear of the horizon. The Sun was showing 3 medium sized sunspots strung out in a line. I stacked 3 of 20 images to get this final image.

The Moon was a waning crescent and the only stand-out feature was Grimaldi. I stacked 9 of 25 frames to get this image.


  1. Hi Philip,

    Bit of a long shot, but some years ago now I was a member of the BBC astronomy forum when I got my first telescope, and a very nice chap called Philip Pugh gave me lots of helpful tips and advice by email.
    The last time I spoke to him I was doing my GCSE's and I unfortunatly lost his email address.
    I am wondering if you were the gentleman I was speaking to?
    My name is Melissa Phillips. If not, pleased to meet you anyway, and I look forward to carrying on reading your blog :)

  2. Hi Melissa,

    Yes, it's me and you probably also remember I have a daughter the same school year as you, who has graduated and hoping to get a place on a teacher training course. I'm still observing, still snapping and still writing, although I took a year off.

    My e-mail is now

    I hope your studies went well and have started your career.