Wednesday, September 2, 2015

September 2015

September 30th 2000 GMT

I did a photo shoot of Aquila and then Cygnus with Lyra. I used 18mm focal length, ISO 800 and 30 seconds exposure. I stacked 4 frames of each.


September 30th 0720 GMT

The Moon was up and it was clear so, having missed it the evening before, I took a few frames at 1/1000 second exposure with the Mak and DSLR. I stacked 38 frames.
I followed up with the Sun but, with it being low in the sky, I needed 1/1250 second exposure to capture the disc. The chain of sunspots looked quite amazing.
Finally, I cleaned my eyepiece and took some afocal shots with a compact digital camera with my PST. The solar disc looked quite bland, except for the region around the sunspots.


September 29th 1150 GMT

There was quite a bit of cloud around when I bin scanned the Sun. I was at work, so did not have my Maksutov handy. There were four sunspots in a row, appearing almost like a filament.

September 28th 2100 GMT

I shot a few frames of the Moon at 300mm at ISO 400 and 1/4000 second exposure. Unfortunately, they were out of focus.

September 28th 1110 GMT

I did a solar photo shoot. I tried the Sun with the Mak in white light, the telephoto lens in white light and afocal shots with my PST. The Sun continued to be active in white light. Some sunspots and a filament were visible in hydrogen alpha light. The telescope shot was composed of 6 frames.
The telephoto shot was composed of 34 frames and I was delighted to obtain any detail at all.

Unfortunately, my hydrogen alpha shots did not come out. There was enough to suggest that afocal photography with the DSLR could work but a dirty lens marred the shot.

September 27th 1920 GMT

I saw the full  moon and could not get it all into a single camera frame. I took a lot of overlapping frames and stacked 46.

September 27th 1320 GMT

I checked the Sun in white light and 3 main sunspot groups were visible. I was becoming quite pleased with my white light results.

September 27th 1035 GMT

There were some changes to the features on the Sun in hydrogen alpha light. I took some full disc shots and close-ups.


September 27th 2300 GMT

It was local midnight and the Moon was just about due south. I took some full disc shots but reduced the exposure time to 1/1000 second. I stacked 246 images.

I also had a quick bin scan. Melotte 20 showed a few stars but the fainter ones were drowned out by moonlight. I could see the main Hyades and Pleiades but lost some fainter stars I hoped to be visiting both again with my camera on a moonless night. The Double Cluster was far from impressive under the conditions and I would probably have missed it, had I not known where to look. The same could e said about M34 but, if anything it was clearer than expected.

I saw the Andromeda Galaxy (M31) but it was well past its best. In the west the Wild Duck Cluster (M11) was just visible.

September 26th 1250 GMT

I photographed the Sun with my usual set-up and there appeared to be more sunspots than the day before.

September 26th 0845 GMT

Although the solar disc looked quite bland in hydrogen alpha light, there was a standout filament. I took full disc and close-up shots.


September 25th 2210 GMT

The Moon was nearly full and there was some haze scattering its light. No deep sky photography but good thing I like the Moon. I took 270 exposures at 1/800 second exposure and got this full disc image.

September 25th 0740 GMT

I returned outside with white light equipment. I could see 2 sunspots on the camera LCD and I took a few full disc frames.

September 25th 0720 GMT

I checked the Sun in hydrogen alpha light with my PST. It was a lot more quiet than the day before. I took some full disc and close-up images.


September 24th 2125 GMT

There was lots of moving cloud around but I had a go anyway and captured a few lunar frames at 1/400 second. Under clearer conditions, I would have tried 1/500 second.

September 24th 1635 GMT

There was not much steady sunshine during the day but a bit right before sunset. I saw four sunspots.

September 23rd 0750 GMT

I checked the Sun with my PST and could see one filament and no prominences. I took some full disc shots and close-ups.


September 23rd 0730 GMT

I did a white light solar shoot. The activity I had seen before was close to rotating off nut new activity had rotated on.

September 22nd 2020 GMT

Finally, some clear sky. The Moon was gibbous and getting noticeably brighter. I took some snaps at 1/125 second exposure. Otherwise, all other settings were the same.

September 22nd

I reprocessed some hydrogen alpha shots from January 8th 2012.


September 21st 1830 GMT

With the weather predicted to get worse, I grabbed 38 quick lunar frames using the same method as the day before.

September 21st 1230 GMT

There was a bit of clear sky at lunchtime. I was in the office, so bin scanned the Sun but just saw a single sunspot. The ones I had photographed with my DSLR and telescope were too small for resolution.

September 20th 1915 GMT

The weather had been very poor all day and the weather forecast for the evening was thick cloud. I was surprised to see the Moon. I took 41 exposures at 1/100 second with my Nikon and Mak. I finished off in GIMP.

September 19th 1930 GMT

The Moon was quite low down and affected by thin cloud. Nevertheless, I decided to have a go but ended up using an exposure of 1/50 second. Quite honestly, the result was rather poor.

September 19th 1120 GMT

There was some haze but I decided to have a go at snapping the Sun. I used the same set-up as the day before: Skymax 127 and Nikon D3200 DSLR and same settings.

The Sun seemed rather quiet in hydrogen alpha light and I took a few exposures with my PST and compact digital camera, more in hope than expectancy.


September 18th Evening

I completed installation of McAfee and my usual image processing files. I found that wxastrocapture is not supported on Windows 8.

September 18th  1100 GMT

I checked the Sun in white light. Immediately, it clouded over. When it cleared, I even underexposed the Sun!  That takes some doing in white light, so I managed a few successful frames with my 127 Maksutov at ISO 400 and 1/4000 second exposure. I was unable to get any stacking programs to work, so I processed a single frame in GIMP.

September 17th Evening

I was hoping to catch the Moon but it was partly obscured by cloud. I had posted everything I had done while I'd lost my computer. I started by backing up my serious files to a USB.

September 17th 0800 GMT

I had to stop for the LBR on the way to work, so bin scanned the Sun just after. I saw one sunspot through thin cloud but I’d seen more on the Big Bear images.

September 15th 1105 GMT

I bin scanned the Sun through a slightly hazy sky and did not see any sunspots.

September 13th

With thick cloud all day and some rain, I did not make any observations. I made a tentative start at starting my beginner book again. I’ve always wanted to write a beginner book but found it difficult to find a publisher willing to take it on. In some ways, the beginner end of the market is over-saturated but, in many ways, I think many books are wide of the mark. My plan for a beginner book is to really hit hard on how to get started.
I wrote a few hundred words but deleted over half of them, as I felt they were just missing the head of the nail.
Of course, not every book I have started or completed has made it to the public but there have been four that have. They are all aimed at the intermediate level market. To find out more see here:

September 12th 1335 GMT

I bin scanned the Sun through gaps in the cloud and saw two sunspots.



September 10th 2030 GMT

I had a look at my Cassiopeia shot of 8th and saw what appeared to be a comet. Further investigation showed it was the Andromeda Galaxy (M31). I attempted some photos of the region and Aquila but the results were out of focus and there was dust on the sensors. Fortunately, the evening wasn’t a total waste of time because I was able to see quite a lot of objects in my binoculars, many that would not be visible most nights.
I started off with M31 and checked its position relative to Cassiopeia. I confirmed that it was, indeed, the mystery comet I had seen on September 8th. Many thanks to Charles Messier for his “catalogue” of non-comets. M31 looked quite good, despite its low elevation and I could also pick out the Pinwheel (M33) against the murk. In the same part of sky, I saw Melotte 20, the Perseus Double Cluster and M34. These all showed well. M15 was marginal. The Coathanger was an easy pot and I also saw a faint smudge where the Dumbbell (M27) was. Surprisingly, I couldn’t make out the Ring (M57). Usually, when looking for both, M57 is easier to see because it is in a convenient position, whereas M27 is brighter but harder. The Wild Duck Cluster (M11) showed well and I even saw that rather elusive smudge of light known as M26. Not only is M26 much fainter than M11, it is also further south and more likely to be caught in the murk.

September 10th 1200 GMT

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

September 9th 2030 GMT

It was dark but there was enough cloud around to deter me from doing any photography. As I hadn’t revisited the summer double stars for a while, I soon ticked off Albireo, Epsilon and Delta Lyrae, Nu and 16/17 Draconi. I also saw Alcor and Mizar. The only other deep sky object visible was the Andromeda Galaxy (M31). I made ¾ hearted attempts to find some of the other brighter objects but the cloud rendered them invisible.

September 9th 1750 GMT

After a cloudy day, it cleared but a bin scan revealed no sunspots.

September 8th 2050 GMT

I attempted some photographs of the Cassiopeia/Cepheus region but all frames were out of focus.
I spotted 2 satellite passes and a meteor in the north of Perseus.

September 8th 1435 GMT

A bin scan of the Sun failed to reveal the sunspot I had photographed on Sunday and followed on the Big Bear images.

September 7th 0800 GMT

I bin scanned the Sun but did not see the sunspot I had seen the day before in the Mak.

September 6th 0820 GMT

The sky was clear, so I attempted a white light solar shoot with my DSLR and Maksutov at ISO 400 and exposure time of 1/4000 second.
Despite taking 48 frames, I couldn’t get them to stack, so I processed a single shot. A faint sunspot was visible (probably below binocular resolution) and limb darkening shows clearly.
I then did a lunar shoot at ISO 400 with an exposure time of 1/500 second. I attempted to stack 37 frames. I used mostly the red channel. Although the shot was not as good as many of my night-time shots, I was quite pleased with it.

September 5th

Under the cloudy skies, I took some flat and bias frames and retried the shot from the evening before.

I didn’t get a final image but stored the master dark, flat and bias files for future use.
I couldn’t get a good image from Deep Sky Stacker but managed to stack 9 RAW files using Microsoft ICE. The result was slightly better than the day before.


It appeared as if Algol (Beta Persei) was at minimum but exact magnitude estimation and photography were not possible, due to the hazy conditions.

September 4th 2230 GMT

After a cloudy day and early evening, it was surprisingly clear.  The plan was relatively simple: to take some overhead and polar widefield shots while browsing the night sky with binoculars. Unfortunately, some low cloud in the north east moved in during the session but not before I captured a few frames overhead. I also took some dark frames as well.
The bin scanning started well with a nice view of M13 in the west. I found M92 and it reminded me of when it had appeared brighter than normal and I was starting to think about a new comet! M3 was low but I could still see it, well just.
In the east, the Pleiades (M45) had risen and the Andromeda Galaxy (M31) started to show something of what I was looking forward to later in the year when it would be almost overhead. I could also see Melotte 20 and M34. Returning to the west, I could see the Wild Duck Cluster (M11) but the nearby M26 must have been too low. I could see the Ring (M57) in Lyra. I found the Coathanger but could not find the nearby Dumbell (M27). Although M27 is brighter, M57 is easier to find. By this time cloud had rolled in and I finished by snapping some disco lights on the clouds that looked rather like a UFO.


September 4th 1030 GMT

I bin scanned the Sun through some gaps in the cloud but did not see any sunspots.

September 2nd 2040 GMT

It was dark but there were one or two gaps in the cloud. Saturn was very low but I managed to see its rings through my binoculars. I could see Alcor and Mizar but no other double stars. Despite trying for M3, M34 and M31, the only deep sky object I could see was Melotte 20.

It was hopeless for any sort of photography but I did see something, which I didn't very often in August.

September 2nd

I reprocessed a solar hydrogen alpha photo from January 5th 2012.

September 2nd 0745 GMT

I bin scanned the Moon and its appearance hadn't changed much from the evening before.

I also saw the Sun but did not see any sunspots.

September 1st 2130 GMT

The Moon had risen and was waning gibbous. I took 110 frames at ISO 400 1/800 second exposure with my 127mm Maksutov F/12.7.

September 1st 0645 GMT

After 3 days of cloud and rain, it cleared. The Moon was low in the west. Tycho’s rays dominated the moonscape and Grimaldi was quite far from the limb due to libration.
The Sun was not showing any sunspots.


  1. It has so many changes. It just astounds me. These days the moon was less visible, as it was rainy. I hope it will clear soon. I'd like to see more photos.
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  2. Thanks, Margaret. I try to snap the Sun and Moon whenever I can.