Tuesday, July 1, 2014

July 2014

July 31st 0750 GMT

I checked the Sun in hydrogen alpha light and found it to be surprisingly quiet.


July 31st 0705 GMT

A solar bin scan showed that the sunspot patterns had changed yet again.

July 30th 0800 GMT

A solar bin scan showed that a new sunspot had rotated on and one I hadn’t seen the day before was visible. It was probably a faint double one that had merged into one and, for some reason, was below binocular resolution the day before.


July 29th 0745 GMT

I checked the Sun in hydrogen alpha light. It was more quiet then the day before. I could not see any prominences but there was a nice filament.


July 29th 0735 GMT

I bin scanned the Sun. I was surprised to see the small sunspots from the day before had rotated off but a new sunspot had rotated on from the far side.


July 28th 1115 GMT

I checked the Sun in hydrogen alpha light at lunchtime. It was back to being more active and I could see several plages, filaments and small prominences. Unfortunately I was not able to get a result with the full disc images but managed a few close-ups.


July 28th 0745 GMT

It was nice to see clear sky again. The large sunspot had moved and it was accompanied by two smaller ones.

July 26th 1225 GMT

It was rather hazy but I managed to see the sunspot from the day before. It had rotated and looked slightly “rounder” as it moved closer to the centre of the solar disc.

July 26th 0030 GMT

I went out with my Startravel 80 and DSLR on the T-ring. To be honest, I has hitting problems immediately with focus and pointing. I started with Melotte 20, as it has a bright star that helped me eventually get focus. I reeled off a few frames at 4 second exposure at ISO 3200. 

It was a disaster, with all frames out of focus.

Then I moved to Albireo and took about 20 frames.

I managed better focus but the camera shake was poor. Only 2 frames were suitable for processing in Deep Sky Stacker. This brought out the rich stellar background very well but over-exposed the double! I went back to the best original frame and pasted the two stars over the over-exposed image. I was quite pleased with the final result.

By that time I was getting a bit tired. OK, I thought I’d just try M13 before calling it at night but was never quite sure if I had it in the finderscope! I broke my intended policy of more frames of less objects and ended up snapping frames across the region.

Unfortunately I didn't manage to snap M13 and didn't find anything too interesting in the frames.

The Pleiades had cleared the rooftops in the east and dawn was just starting to break before I finally called it a night.

July 26th 2315 GMT

The sky had cleared somewhat since dusk, although it was more clear to the east and south than the north and west. I went out with the DSLR and tripod. I attempted a few frames of Cygnus but it was very high in the sky and I was having problems.I didn't realise it until later, when I discovered I had 11 useable frames.

I gave up after a while and shot multiple frames of Cepheus, which was quite high up but still reachable with the tripod. Although I shot 24 frames, only 12 were usable but the benefits of using more frames was very clear.

I also took my binoculars with me to have a look round while I waited for the exposures. The Andromeda Galaxy (M31) was low down but showed well and got better as the night went on. The Pinwheel (M33), I wasn’t sure about. I thought I saw a faint smudge where it should be but was not completely certain. There was no doubt about M15, though. M13 and M92 were both clear in Hercules but M3 was not. The Wild Duck Cluster (M11) showed quite nicely but M26 didn’t. In fact I consider it a rare “pot” with my binoculars. I thought there might be an outside chance of seeing some of the globular clusters in Ophiuchus but had no luck. A more pleasant surprise was that I could see M8 and M20, although they were far from at their best. Other attractions, such as M22 were not.

I managed the rare pot of the Ring (M57) then it was only when I was doing the write up that I forgot about the Dumbbell, which is brighter but harder to find. I managed the usual double stars but could not see M29, M39, M52 or M103. They were simply lost against the Milky Way background, which was quite superb. It was quite remarkable just to scan it from Perseus to Scutum and was largely visible without optical aid. On the subject of Perseus, I could not miss Melotte 20 and the Double Cluster and I could also make out M34, even though they were low. It was nice to see a few things again.

July 25th 1210 GMT

A solar bin scan showed that the sunspot pattern had changed once again.

July 24th 1745 GMT

I checked the Sun with my PST in scorching heat! The disc did not show much detail but I could see a nice prominence at the 11 o’ clock position.

July 24th 1610 GMT

A solar bin scan showed that the sunspot had rotated and a smaller one was right beside it.

July 23rd 1040 GMT

A solar bin scan showed that the sunspot I had seen the day before had disappeared and a new one had rotated onto the solar disc.

July 22nd 0945 GMT

During a mid-morning break, I checked the Sun in hydrogen alpha light. It was rather quiet, as expected, but I saw a nice prominence near the bottom of the disc.


July 22nd 0750 GMT

After patiently waiting for over a week, I finally saw a sunspot in clear conditions.


July 21st

In preparing a book for submission, I reprocessed a lunar eclipse photo from April 24th 2005.

July 21st 0720 GMT

I saw a thin waning crescent moon through my binoculars. There were plenty of seas visible but not much in the way of craters and even Grimaldi was not well-placed, due to libration.

A solar bin scan did not reveal any sunspots.  

July 18th 1530 GMT

A solar bin scan under good conditions did not reveal any sunspots.

July 17th 1625 GMT

I took a quick break from work to check the Sun in hydrogen alpha light before it disappeared behind the trees at the back of the house. Not MY trees of course, as I would never plant trees in the west of our garden!

It was (as expected) quiet but I could make out some features. I shot some stills and videos with my Lumix. One of the stills produced the only result.


July 17th 1150 GMT

A solar bin scan under clear conditions did not reveal any activity.

July 16th 1700 GMT

After work, I processed more images from July 6th. I used Deep Sky Stacker and GIMP instead of Microsoft ICE. Now I caught a fair bit of sky glow which I processed out but the results for Cassiopeia and Melotte 20 were reasonable.


July 16th 1105 GMT

With an inactive Sun and cloud, I reprocessed some images from July 6th but used Deep Sky Stacker  instead of Microsoft ICE, having taken a few dark, flats and bias frames at the weekend.

First up was the constellation of Bootes, composed from 5 frames.

I thought I'd created a "dud" while trying to find M13 but did find a few stars. I decided to process it anyway, even though it wasn't my target object and I only had one frame! I was actually rather pleased how many stars I had captured with my Startravel 80 and DSLR.


July 15th 0755 GMT

I checked the Sun with my PST. I could see a very faint filament and a tiny prominence but, apart from that, the disc was bland. Cloud rolled in before I could take a photo.

July 15th 0745 GMT

I bin scanned the Sun again in clear conditions but did not see any sunspots.
July 14th 1015 GMT

A quick solar bin scan showed that the active region had disappeared completely. No further sunspots had emerged nor rotated on from the far side, so it was the first blank Sun for ages.

July 13th 1600 GMT

A small gap appeared in the cloud and the conditions were very poor. However, I did manage to see a single sunspot about to rotate from view.

July 12th 0930 GMT

I followed up the hydrogen alpha shots with some shots with the Mak and Baader Continuum filter. I could not see any activity, except for that in the sunspot region.

July 12th 0900 GMT

I checked the Sun with my PST. I could see 2 small prominences but most of the activity was confined to the sunspot region.

July 11th 2045 GMT

I took the Mak out and decided to try the Baader Continuum filter on it. Not that my Maksutov generates a lot of chromatic aberration but the I thought getting rid of it completely would be a good idea or at least do no harm.

The first set of frames was of the Grimaldi region. Four frames stacked with Microsoft ICE and finished with GIMP.

The next image was composed from just two full disc frames using the same method.

The next image was composed of multiple stacked images in two stages. I felt that the result was not as good as many recent ones I had taken without the filter.

This image was of Grimaldi, as stacking attempts failed.     

I didn't manage to produce a stack for Plato, either.

July 11th 0750 GMT

I checked the Sun with my PST. Apart from a single small prominence, most of the activity appeared to be in the same region as the sunspots.

July 11th 0740 GMT

A solar bin scan showed most of the solar activity had moved further towards the limb. Conditions were perfect.

July 10th 1110 GMT

I did a “white light” shoot with the Maksutov and borrowed Baader Continuum filter. There were lots of sunspots about but they were confined mostly to one region. I took some full disc shots and close-ups. However, despite a lot of lens cleaning, only the close-ups produced usable results.

July 10th 0925 GMT

I checked the Sun with the PST. Most of the activity was around the sunspots but I also saw a prominence  that was in an unrelated area.


July 9th 2055 GMT

It was half time in the World Cup match between Holland and Argentina. I took 96 full disc frames of the Moon and stacked and processed the best 81 to get this.

July 9th 1725 GMT

I checked the Sun with the PST. There were no obvious prominences and most of the activity was around the sunspots.

July 9th 1215 GMT

The morning had been mostly cloudy but with no rain. A small gap in the cloud enabled me to look at the Sun though my binoculars. The sunspot pattern was much quieter. I thought that it might be connected with the conditions but the Big Bear images also showed a quieter Sun.

July 8th 1600 GMT

After over 24 hours of persistent cloud, it finally cleared enough to check the Sun with my binoculars. The sunspot pattern was quite spectacular.

July 7th 1120 GMT

 I went out at lunchtime and shot the Sun with the Mak and Baader Continuum filter. I took some full disc shots and close-ups of sunspots. Most photos were left in the original colour but I tried a false colour one to see if it emphasised the features.


 July 7th 0740 GMT

I checked the Sun with my PST. There were no prominences but a lot of detail surrounding the sunspots. I took some full disc shots and some close-ups of the sunspots.


July 6th 2050 GMT

I took 52 full disc images of the Moon and stacked them using Microsoft ICE. I finished off in Gimp and must admit, I rather liked the result.

July 6th 1620 GMT

I did a solar bin scan under  poor skies in the morning but when I did a hydrogen alpha shoot in the evening, I captured all the sunspots anyway. I took some full disc shots plus close-ups.

July 6th 2345 GMT

I went out with my DSLR and Startravel 80 in the hope of capturing some constellations and deep sky objects. I had quite a lot of problems finding things and kept losing focus with the telescope. My attempts to capture M13 and M31 failed miserably and I was tired nearly 2 hours later when I came in.

The first shot was aimed at Bootes but captured Corona Borealis and Serpens Caput as well.

The 2nd shot shows Hercules and also some surrounding constellations.

The 3rd was with the Startravel 80 and shows Melotte 20.  Although I took several frames, they didn't stack.

I finally stacked four frames of Cassiopeia to produce this, which also shows Cassiopeia.

July 5th 2230 GMT

 At last, a clear(ish) night at a weekend. I started with about 60 odd overlapping frames of the Moon and stitched and stacked 47 of them using Microsoft ICE. I finished off in GIMP.

I took a series of close-ups using my Xbox cam and using Sharpcap to capture the images, PIPP and Registax 5 to do the stacking (Registax 6 didn't work on the files for some reason) and finished off in GIMP.

The first image was a stack of two imaging runs featuring Plato, which was sitting nicely on the terminator.

The 2nd shot is just to the right of Plato and shows a few craters.

The next shot is of Mare Crisium. This is not at its best around the half moon phase but I always enjoy photographing it anyway.

I made two imaging runs of the southern craters, so naturally I stacked them and ended up with this.

The final shot was of the middle of the lunar disc near the terminator. To be honest, I cannot remember the names of the craters!

As Mars was near the Moon, I decided to have a pot at it. I could see some albedo features on the screen and I processed the best imaging run to come up with this. Although it was no Damian Peach, I was quite pleased to get anything, with the planet being so far from opposition.

July 5th 1150 GMT

Conditions were rather poor, with a lot of loud around. I was able to see one large sunspot and one small one using my binoculars but suspect I could have seen a lot more under better conditions, as the Big Bear images showed a lot of detail.

July 3rd 2050 GMT

There was quite a lot of moving cloud in the evening but I finally got to see the Moon. I took quite a few full disc frames and processed them using my normal methods.

July 3rd 0745 GMT

I checked the Sun in hydrogen alpha light with my Coronado PST. I could not see any prominences  but there was a lot of activity surrounding the sunspots. Only the full disc shots worked and I combined them using Microsoft ICE and finished off using GIMP.


July 3rd 0720 GMT

An early morning binocular scan threw up a surprise: apparently the two largest sunspots had merged or, more likely, drifted too close for the gap to be resolvable in binoculars.

July 2nd 0810 GMT

Conditions were hazy but a solar binocular scan showed that the sunspots had rotated.

July 1st 2055 GMT

It was half time between USA and Belgium. The Moon was low in the west and I took a few full disc frames. Mare Crisium was well placed and I could see a couple of craters in it using the Mak.

July 1st 0750 GMT

I had a look through the Sun in hydrogen alpha with my PST. The active region that had just rotated on was superb. There were some nearby prominences and a filament that was the only stand-out feature of the rest of the solar disc. I attempted some full disc frames plus close-ups of the active region and filaments.

July 1st 0740 GMT

I bin scanned the Sun to find new activity had emerged onto the solar limb, with 3 large sunspots.