Friday, April 3, 2015

Non-astronomy photos

Those of you who know me, will have seen many of my astronomical photos. However, since I became interested in taking astronomical photos, I have also become interested in other types of photography. For example, I have taken lots of "tourist" photos from around the world.

I have also started taking photographs of plants and wildlife. They are all in my Photobucket under "Miscellaneous Other Stuff" but I'm planning to created sub-albums:

Here's a few recent examples of these photos:

I will not be adding all of these photos to this post but will add a few highlights. Everything will be posted on Photobucket, though.

April 19th

I did a shoot of flowers in the garden and the pick of the bunch (excuse the pun) was this close-up of a bluebell.


April 26th


I took some flower pictures again.




Wednesday, April 1, 2015

April 2015

April 30th 2030 GMT

Conditions were pretty bad but I managed to stack 52 lunar images from 123.

April 30th

I reprocessed a solar hydrogen alpha image from April 9th 2011.

April 29th 1940 GMT

I took 98 frames of the waxing gibbous moon. I stacked them using Microsoft ICE and finished in GIMP.

April 28th

I reprocessed a solar hydrogen alpha photo from April 16th 2010.

... and another two from April 18th 2010.

April 27th 2000 GMT

I followed up with some more full disc lunar frames.

April 27th 0610 GMT

I bin scanned the Sun in clear conditions but did not see any sunspots.

April 26th 1930 GMT

I took a few frames of the Moon with my Mak and Konica Minolta DSLR.


April 26th 1500 GMT

It was quite late in the afternoon when it cleared enough for me to bin scan the Sun. Two sunspots were close to rotating off.

April 25th 0830 GMT

Conditions were very poor and several gaps in the cloud showed nothing but, with a lot of persistence, saw a couple of sunspots.

April 24th 0730 GMT

The Sun was low down and conditions were hazy but I decided to bin scan the Sun, knowing that the weather forecast for later was less than reassuring!

April 23rd 2030 GMT

It was well into dusk when I went out to snap the Moon. I took about 200 frames in 10 minutes using my Konica Minolta DSLR and 127mm Maksutov. I used ISO 800 and 1/640 second exposure. Not all of the frames were of good quality, so I stacked the best 112.

April 23rd 1130 GMT

 I had thick cloud cover first thing in the morning. Conditions were somewhat better at lunchtime, with various thicknesses of moving cloud. The sunspot pattern had changed, yet again but I considered it likely that I had missed some fainter sunspots.

April 22nd 1140 GMT

I checked the Sun with the PST. Most of the surface activity was around the sunspots and there were some nice prominences on display.


April 22nd 0635 GMT

I bin scanned the Sun and saw the sunspot pattern had changed yet again.

April 21st 2020 GMT

I went out with the Nikon DSLR and tried to snap the Moon with Venus and some close-ups of the Moon.
Unfortunately, I could not achieve focus on the Moon.
However, a more successful shot caught Jupiter's moons and the Beehive (M44).

April 21st 0635 GMT

I bin scanned the Sun when it was low down, although the sky was clear. The sunspot pattern had changed, yet again

April 20th 1120 GMT

I was clear when I bin scanned the Sun at lunchtime. I could see many more sunspots than the day before, due to the conditions.

April 19th 1105 GMT

Conditions were almost impossible. I saw 2 sunspots through the cloud but it missed many fainter and smaller ones.

April 18th 2250 GMT

I went out to look for Lyrid meteors/ I saw one at 2317 GMT but didn't catch it on "film". It was about magnitude 2 and travelling west.

In my attempt to catch a Lyrid on camera, I took 3 sets of shots: one near the horizon with my Konica Minolta DSLR. This did not yield a decent image.

I caught Lyra and stacked 19 images at ISO800 18mm focal length and 30 seconds exposure with my Nikon D3200. I ran out of memory using Deep Sky Stacker, so used Microsoft ICE instead and finished off in GIMP.

I used a similar method for Hercules but only 6 frames.

April 18th 0950 GMT

Through the PST the Sun looked more active in hydrogen alpha light than the day before.

April 18th 0845 GMT

A solar bin scan showed that the older sunspot group was fading and the newer one was changing and darkening.

April 17th 2200 GMT

There was a lot of cloud about and I would not normally have gone out..However, I had a new Nikon D3200 that needed first light. I started off with the telephoto lens at 100mm, ISO 6400 and exposure of 4 seconds.
I started off with Jupiter and, although the preview suggested that it was overexposed, the reality was somewhat different. I also caught the Beehive (M44).
I also took some photos around Beta Ursae Minoris and Cassiopeia. They showed quite a lot of detail, despite the cloud.


I tried Jupiter, the Beehive (M44) and Nu Draconi at 300mm. Focus was out but the results were not too bad. However, I decided not to process them.

April 17th 1350 GMT

Due to a conference call, lunch was late. I checked the Sun with my PST and saw a lot of activity but no obvious prominences.

I took some full disc and close-up shots,


April 17th 0705 GMT

I bin scanned the Sun through thin cloud and found that the sunspots had rotated ad the pattern changed again.

April 16th 0745 GMT

It was cloudy in Wiltshire but clear when I arrived at work. The sunspot pattern was becoming increasingly interesting.

April 15th 0620 GMT

I woke up to a clear sky and found that the active sunspot group was becoming even more interesting.

April 14th 0800 GMT

I bin scanned the Sun in a clear sky when I arrived at work to find the sunspot patterns had changed.

April 13th 1805 GMT

I bin scanned the Sun through cloud. Although it was low in the sky, I could make out the new sunspot activity.

April 12th 0850 GMT

I was able to see some sunspots through my PST but doubted that they would be visible in the photos. The Sun was otherwise quiet but I took some full disc and close-up frames.


April 12th 0840 GMT

Despite the presence of new sunspot activity on the Big Bear images, I could not see any sunspots through my binoculars and filters.

April 11th 2240 GMT

With a bad back, carting my Mak out to see Jupiter was out of the question, so the plan was to do some binocular scanning while taking some frames of Leo.

It was much more clear than the hazy afternoon and evening would have suggested. I hadn't seen either M81 or M82 for a while but I soon found them. The Beehive (M44) was much easier and looked as good as it ever had in my binoculars and I could also see M67. I  found M65 and M66 and even picked up some fuzzy patches in the Virgo supercluster. I did not check for any positions beforehand as I was not expecting to see anything there.

Naturally, Melotte 111 was easy to see but I also saw the global clusters M3 and M13. Despite the low elevation, I saw M52 and M103 in Cassiopeia.
The Leo image was composed of 11 frames at 18mm ISO 800 for 30 seconds and includes Melotte 111.

April 11th 1020 GMT

I checked the Sun with the PST. It was very quiet with some plages where the sunspots probably were and a small prominence. I took some full disc and close-up frames.


April 11th 0950 GMT

I bin scanned the Sun under clear conditions but did not see any sunspots.

April 10th

I reprocessed a solar hydrogen alpha shot from October 20th 2010.

April 10th 1320 GMT

Conditions were slightly hazy and I could not detect any sunspots through my binoculars.

April 9th 2040 GMT

I went out to prepare for the pass of the International Space Station (ISS). Conditions were rather hazy, particularly near the horizon. Sirius appeared much fainter then Procyon. I did not capture much of the ascent but the descent came out much better. I used ISO 800, 18mm focal length and 30 seconds exposure. Closer inspection of the ascent frame showed some camera shake, so I processed the descent frame only using GIMP.

April 9th 1200 GMT

I checked the Sun with my PST. Most of the solar disc was quiet but there were some sunspots surrounding the sunspots and a nice prominence show at the 8 o'clock position.


April 9th 0925 GMT

I bin scanned the Sun under slightly hazy conditions and saw that the sunspots had rotated and the pattern changed again.

April 8th 2100 GMT

I took 11 frames of Jupiter in Cancer. This captured the sickle of Leo, Leo Minor, Castor and Pollux and the Beehive (M44) in Cancer. For some reason, Deep Sky Stacker did not produce a result, although Microsoft ICE did.

April 8th 2007 GMT

I hadn't checked the timing but was putting some rubbish out when I saw the International Space Station pass Jupiter. It was noticeably brighter than the planet but fainter than Venus, so I estimated its magnitude to be -3.2.

April 8th 1250 GMT

Conditions were somewhat clearer than the day before and I saw a small second sunspot and the first had grown.

April 7th 1105 GMT

It cleared enough to bin scan the Sun and I detected a small, faint sunspot. The Big Bear images showed some smaller ones.

April 7th 0800 GMT

I woke up to 100% white cloud cover. I used it to shoot a new set of flat and bias frames.

April 6th 2235 GMT

The Moon was low and surrounded by thin cloud, which was spreading from the south east. Only the Moon was really a suitable target. I started off with ISO 400 but this time increased the exposure time to 1/1000 second to compensate for the low altitude, phase and cloud. Without intending to, I captured 210 frames.

April 6th 2100 GMT

There was some haze about, especially near the horizon but it wasn't too bad overhead. I took a new set of dark frames and a set of frames overhead. While doing this, I had a good look round with the eye and binoculars. Venus showed a disc of about 65-70%, as the telescope had suggested the day before. Jupiter showed 3 moons, with two to the west and one to the east.

The Pleiades (M45) and Hyades were low down and I could make out the main asterisms but no faint stars. I could also just make out the Orion Great Nebula (M42). M35 was slightly better placed and was a nice sight. The Beehive (M44) was particularly well placed and looked just great. I was able to see Melotte 111 but could not see any galaxies in Leo. I did see a satellite pass through.

The eastern part of the sky did not show anything great. I split Mizar and Alcor and, while looking for Nu Draconi (which I later found) saw another satellite travelling through.

Although the zenith frames were somewhat out of focus, I managed a passable result.

April 6th 0800 GMT

I went out with my Mak and filters to capture the Sun in white light. I had seen some faint sunspots on the Big Bear images and hoped to see them. Having fiddled with my webcam the night before, my focus was way out, so I had to re-do it. I couldn't see anything visually but I took 54 frames of the solar disc using a Baader filter and the same settings I had used for the preceding lunar session.

As you know, not everything I touch turns to gold. Whilst I managed a nice lunar image the night before, I found there was just too much dust. Instead, I used the positions of the sunspots to make a drawing, although it was probable that they would not have been visible in my binoculars.

Of course, totally no prizes for guessing what came next! Not that I give prizes, anyway. I could see the sunspots using my PST and there was a large prominence at the 3 o'clock position. Otherwise the solar disc in hydrogen alpha was rather featureless.

April 6th 2320 GMT

After a cloudy spell and a film on TV, it cleared. I was now at the confusing time of year when it was Monday but GMT was still on Sunday.

I went out with the intention of capturing about a hundred frames of the Moon but ended up with 227! They were at ISO 400 and exposure of 1/2000 second. I used the Mak, so the focal length was about 1540mm.

I tried fiddling with my webcam but it was just too trying.

April 5th 2015 GMT

It was dusk and I attacked Venus with my compact digital camera and webcam. I could see a phase of about 65 to 70% and a disc that was still rather small.

Jupiter only showed a featureless disc and no moons with the webcam, not great, so I tried the compact digital camera as well. Although all four moons were visible, I only caught two on camera. I captured some detail afocally with the compact digital camera.


April 5th 0935 GMT

I bin scanned the Sun through cloud. I could not see any sunspots, although the Big Bear images suggested that some faint ones were present.

April 4th

With complete cloud cover, I reprocessed a solar hydrogen alpha shot from October 20th 2010.

April 3rd

I reprocessed another solar hydrogen alpha shot from October 17th 2010.

April 2nd

I reprocessed a solar hydrogen alpha shot from October 17th 2010.

April 1st

I reprocessed a solar hydrogen alpha shot from November 19th 2010.

April 1st 0710 GMT

A solar bin scan revealed a clear disc, suggesting that the sunspot had rotated too close to the limb of the solar disc.