Saturday, August 2, 2014

August 2014

August 31st 2045 GMT

I attempted some 70mm shots of the polar regions with ISO 400 and 4 seconds’ exposure. The first set were off target and not at quite the right focal length either. I managed a few frames in the target area, though.

I stacked the best 10 images from the first set but, unfortunately, they were not quite at the right focal length..

The second set of photos aimed at Polaris were out of focus, so my idea did not work.

August 31st 1325 GMT

I caught the Sun with my PST through a gap in the cloud. Apart from the sunspots and a large filament, it seemed rather quiet.

August 31st 0940 GMT

Conditions were much clearer than the day before and there was a rather nice sunspot pattern, with no less than 5 visible to binoculars.


August 30th 0750 GMT

Conditions were quite poor, with lots of thin cloud. I managed to see two sunspots.

August 28th 1340 GMT

Conditions were poor, with thin cloud but I managed to see three sunspots quite clearly.

August 24th 1445 GMT

It was cloudy in the morning but I managed a binocular scan in the late afternoon. I saw the same sunspot I’d been following and it had rotated from the day before.

August 23rd 2130 GMT

I went out again with my Startravel 80 and DSLR. More than a “sighter” than anything else, I started off with Melotte 20, one of my favourites. After that I tried to hunt for M13 but just caught a few background stars. I found M31 but the M33 attempts were too blurred. I turned by attentions to M34 and the initial results looked quite good. I finished off with the Perseus Double Cluster.

Due to mount stability problems, only one frame worked for Melotte 20, despite doing 15. Fortunately, the result was not too bad.

Of the first set of 5 Hercules close-up frames only 2 were clear, so I processed them to get this.

I managed to stack 6 of 7 frames for the 2nd Hercules close-up.

I managed 15 images of M31 but Deep Sky Stacker brightened the nucleus and made the outer parts of the galaxy almost invisible, so I simply processed the best image.

I stacked 30 images of M34 and have to admit was very pleased with the result.

Finally, 19 of 20 images were used for the Perseus Double Cluster.

August 23rd 2100 GMT

It was just about dark, do I decided to do a few frames of Ursa Minor while looking around with the binoculars. Comet Jacques was a bit hard to find but, once I found it, it had moved quite a lot. It was also more clearly comet-shaped. I even saw M81 and M82, despite them not being ideally placed. Naturally, M3 was also visible and also Melotte 20. I could see some structure in the Andromeda Galaxy (M31) and could also make out the Pinwheel (M33).


August 23rd 0945 GMT

I checked the Sun in hydrogen alpha light. Although there was only one prominence apparent, there was a region of plages surrounding the sunspot and lots of filaments. I took some full disc shots then the cloud rolled in.


August 23rd  0915 GMT

A solar bin scan showed just one sunspot that had apparently grown.

August 22nd 2120 GMT

There was some thin cloud around but some parts of the sky was clear. I was rather tired after a long day, so decided not to take any telescopes out but my binoculars and DSLR.

I found Comet Jacques in Cassiopeia rather more easily than I had expected. It looked more like a fuzzy blob than a traditional comet shape but there it was. The Andromeda Galaxy (M31) was relatively low down but visible nevertheless. The elusive M33 was, as expected, elusive and I couldn’t see it. On the other hand Melotte 20 and the Perseus Double Cluster showed well but I could not find M34.

To the south, The Wild Duck Cluster (M11) showed quite well and M15 was visible, too. Both globular clusters M13 and M92 were visible in Hercules. It was while I was exploring this region of sky that I saw a Perseid meteor flash through Cygnus at 2205 GMT. I didn’t get a good magnitude estimate but I’d say it was magnitude 1 at least. I was able to see the rather elusive planetary nebulae, the Ring (M57) in Lyra and the Dumbbell (M27) in Vulpecula. I saw quite a few satellites as well, one of them about magnitude 0.

Photographically, I did a few frames of Aquila, as my main target area of the pole was clouded out. Unfortunately, it didn't work well as I was imaging too close to a streetlight.

I then tried a few experimental shots at 70mm focal length and 4 seconds’ exposure at ISO 3200 in an attempt to try (in turn) Melotte 20, M31 and M13. 

The Melotte 20 shot was a real success, while the M31 and M13 photos captured the stellar background but not the objects. At least it proved that the idea of higher ISO, shorter exposure and longer focal length was rather good at capturing stars and gave me some great ideas for other targets.

It finally cleared around the pole for me to be able to do some wider field shots. For some mad reason it didn't stack using Deep Sky Stacker but worked using Microsoft ICE.

August 22nd 1300 GMT

The sky cleared for a short while and I was able to see two sunspots.


August 20th 1030 GMT

The Moon had shrunk to a thin waning crescent. I shot a few full disc frames. I had trouble with some blemishes on the camera lens but this did not affect the lunar crescent.

The Sun was showing a lot of sunspots and I took a few full disc frames before cloud moved in. Again, a bit of trouble with blemishes.


August 19th 2030 GMT

I went out to see the ISS and snap it. In first inspection, I thought I'd missed it but when I saw the photo on the laptop, I realised that I'd caught part of the trail on the bottom left before it disappeared behind a cloud.   

I was also able to capture Ursa Minor, even though it was still very much dusk but the Ursa Major attempt failed due to camera shake.

August 19th 0750 GMT

I bin scanned the Moon. As it was nearer to the “new” phase, the southern craters were no longer visible, so Oceanus Procellarum dominated the moonscape. Grimaldi was near the lunar limb, so the overall view was not as interesting as the day before.

August 18th 0810 GMT

I missed the conjunction of Venus and Jupiter due to cloud but it cleared a bit later. Unfortunately, I didn’t have time for a long break, so bin scanned the Sun and Moon. The Moon was just past the last quarter phase, so some of the southern craters showed well and the Appennines straddled the terminator.

August 17th 1650 GMT

I checked the Sun with the PST and could see some plages and a couple of nice prominences. Unfortunately, cloud moved in and the prominences were no longer there when I tried again later. Fortunately, although I didn't see the prominences, I still caught them in the photo. I was unable to do anything about the colour in the full disc shot, so I just left it in greyscale.

August 17th 0835 GMT

I bin scanned the Sun through moving cloud and was unable to detect any sunspots. Some small ones were visible in the professional images.

August 16th 1055 GMT

A bin scan under poor conditions revealed a single sunspot, although the GONG Project images suggested a more active Sun.

August 15th 1600 GMT

Conditions were poor, at best. I saw a bird fly across the solar disc but no sunspots.

August 13th 1340 GMT

Conditions were not great, with moving cloud. I saw the Sun in hydrogen alpha light and it seemed rather quiet, except for some activity around the sunspot. I took some full disc and close-up frames. I found it took a lot of processing to get any sort of detail from the full disc frames and I couldn't get anything at all from the close-ups.


August 13th 1120 GMT

A solar bin scan revealed that the sunspot had rotated again. There was a small one visible in the Big Bear images but I couldn’t see it. 

August 13th 0040 GMT

After a shower or few, it finally cleared long enough for me to take a few full disc frames of the Moon before cloud rolled in yet again.

August 12th 2200 GMT

I went out to try and catch some Perseids. I hadn't had much luck at catching meteors on camera before but I took my camera out anyway. There was some cloud about and there was lots of scattered moonlight. Nevertheless, I could make out most of the constellations.

At 2208 GMT, I spotted a magnitude -2 meteor travelling north through Draco.

At 2213 GMT, I spotted a magnitude 0 meteor travelling west below the Plough.

At 2317 GMT I saw a sporadic magnitude -1 meteor travelling from  Cygnus to Polaris.

At 2325 GMT I saw an Iridium satellite flash just east of the Plough.

At 2335 GMT I saw a magnitude 0 meteor travelling west near the Plough.

The polar regions clouded over, so I continued my search to the west.

At 2338 GMT I saw a magnitude 0 meteor travelling south through Aquila.

At 2341 GMT I saw a magnitude 1 meteor travelling south through Lyra.

At 2347 GMT I saw a magnitude -1 meteor travelling south through Cygnus.

At 2355 GMT I saw a magnitude 0 meteor travelling north west near the northern horizon through a gap in the cloud. It clouded over soon afterwards.

In the hour I saw 7 Perseids and one sporadic, concentrating mainly on the polar region but was surprised to see some with long trails reaching the Summer Triangle. It was possibly significant that I didn't see any meteors fainter than magnitude 1, possibly due to moonlight.

I checked the photos but the moonlight didn't help and I would not normally attempt constellation shots near the time of a full moon I did see a faint sporadic meteor near Polaris in one of the photos, though.


August 12th 1720 GMT

I bin scanned the Sun through thin cloud and saw that the sunspot had rotated again.

August 11th 2115 GMT

I stacked 55 of 73 frames to get this Moon shot.

Aug 11th 1825 GMT

The weather had been bad again but I finally managed to see the Sun for a few minutes in the early evening. The sunspot from the day before had rotated.

Aug 10th 2130 GMT

Too much cloud so I bin scanned the "super moon". It did not appear bigger but rather brighter and it was difficult to resolve features. 

August 10th 1250 GMT

Despite Hurricane Bertha, I was able to try my newly made replacement solar filters and was able to see a single sunspot through moving cloud.

August 9th 0030 GMT

The Moon was low but bright and I took 2 sets of frames: full disc and close-ups near Tycho. I had a look for Perseids but didn’t see any. I thought that the scattered moonlight would make any constellation photography difficult.

I stacked 96 of 102 images to get a nice full disc image:

I stacked 19 of 42 images to get the close-up. Although  much of it was over-exposed, the edge looked nice.


August 9th

I  reprocessed the lunar shoot from 6th and found some frames that didn't show the lens blemish.


August 7th 1315 GMT

I did a hydrogen alpha shoot with 2 different cameras. Visually, the Sun seemed very quiet but there was more detail on the photographs.

August 7th 0945 GMT

The Sun was in a clear patch of sky in between the clouds but I could not see any sunspots.

August 6th 2150 GMT

The Moon was low and placed in a gap in the clouds. I took some full disc shots. Unfortunately, a blemish on the camera lens got in the way.

August 6th 1630 GMT

It had cleared, so I checked the Sun with my PST. It was  more active with prominences, a filament and several plages.

Aug 6th 1115 GMT

I bin scanned the Sun in poor conditions through moving cloud and did not see any sunspots.

Aug 4th 2130 GMT

The Moon low and just past first quarter. Clavius was showing. The weather poor with lots of cloud. I stacked 61 of 95 frames, discarding the "cloudy" ones. 

August 4th 1100 GMT

I was able to bin scan the Sun during a break in the cloud but could only see one sunspot.

August 3rd 2100 GMT

The Moon was about 6 days past new  but rather low in the sky. I took 47 full disc images and stacked the best 28 of them.


August 3rd 0845 GMT

I checked the Sun in hydrogen alpha light and it was much more active than the day before. As well as the compact digital camera, I also tried the DSLR, without success.

August 3rd 0825 GMT

A solar bin scan revealed that the larger sunspots from the day before had not rotated much and the smaller ones had (apparently) disappeared.

August 3rd 2300 GMT.


After trying for the Delta Aquarids, I turned my attention to the Perseids. I had a bit more luck, there being no streetlights in the way. I saw a magnitude 1 Perseid travelling north west at 2313 GMT and at 2328 GMT I saw a magnitude -2 Perseid flash near Polaris and it had a persistent trail, looking  a bit like gunsmoke. I had a quick flick through the images but did not see any sign of the meteors.

I did another process of the region to catch more detail on Cassiopeia.

August 2nd 2230 GMT

It was dark, so I went out to look for Delta Aquariid meteors. I didn’t see any and I was having a lot of trouble with streetlights when trying to photograph the region. I saw a bright sporadic meteor flash through Cygnus but I wasn’t sure how bright it was.


August 2nd 2030 GMT

The Moon was low and I took several full disc shots with the intention of stacking them. I found 26 frames of about 50 that were useable and stacked them all.

August 2nd 1620 GMT

It had cleared but the Sun was rather quiet except for a prominence and a large filament.  

August 2nd 1210 GMT

Heavy rain turned into broken cloud and I was finally able to see the Sun. The sunpot pattern had changed quite considerably since the day before.


August 1st 0700 GMT

Conditions were hazy but I was able to see new sunspot activity had rotated on, whilst an older sunspot was close to rotating off.