Saturday, December 3, 2016

December 2016

December 29th 1705 GMT

I bin scanned Venus. I could not estimate the phase but it seemed decidedly "egg-shaped".

Its published phase was 81%.

December 29th 1110 GMT

The Sun looked quiet again in hydrogen alpha light but, as the day before, took some full disc and close-up shots.

December 28th 1445 GMT

A solar bin scan did not reveal any sunspots, even though the sky was clear.

December 28th 1100 GMT

Finally, some proper clear daytime sky! The Sun was very quiet, though, and no amount of etalon tuning, detuning and retuning could bring out any noticeable detail. I took some full disc and close-up shots.


December 26th 1300 GMT

It was more clear later in the day, so I took some full disc and close-up shots.

December 26th 0950 GMT

It was hazy but I checked the Sun in hydrogen alpha light with my PST. I could not see anything visually, I took some full disc shots but there was not enough light to do any close-ups.

December 22nd 1120 GMT

 Finally some clear sky! Despite reports of sunspots being seen the day before, I could not see any in my binoculars.

December 14th 1305 GMT

I bin scanned the Sun. It was hazy but clear enough to see limb darkening. I did not see any sunspots, though.

December 12th 1830 GMT

I caught a small gap in the clouds to take a few frames of the Moon at 300mm focal length, ISO 400 and 1/4000 second exposure. The focus was a bit out.

December 11th 0930 GMT

To be honest, had I seen more of the Sun mid-week, I'd have given it a miss. I managed just one shot in hydrogen alpha light that worked.

December 7th 1310 GMT

I bin scanned the Sun under hazy conditions and did not see any sunspots, even there were still some on the Big Bear images.

December 4th 1130 GMT

I bin scanned the Sun and saw a smaller sunspot that I hadn't seen in my PST. It was due to the additional aperture of my 70mm binoculars.

December 4th 1110 GMT

I checked the Sun with my PST. Apart from two sunspots, I could see no surface detail and no prominences. I took a few full disc and close-up shots but could not find the sunspots on the images. I planned to return outside to catch the sunspots in white light.
The first shot was composed of a single frame.

I had enough shots to try stacking the bottom left quadrant but the stack looked more like an egg! Oh well, single shot again.

Better with a single frame again.

... and again.


December 3rd 1820 GMT

I caught the Moon and Venus close together in the west and took a series of shots.
The first was a deliberately-overexposed shot of eight seconds to catch some background stars.

The second shot was a more "regulation" lunar shot composed of 3 frames.

I deliberately WAY over-exposed the Moon using 1/100 second exposure to catch the dark side.

OK, could do better!!

December 1st 1305 GMT

The weather forecast had originally been cloudy but it was clear when I saw the sunspots that were about to rotate off and (finally!) a new one.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

November 2016

November 30th 1750 GMT

I stopped off on the way home from work and snapped Venus and Mars together in the south west. I had a bit of camera shake but they showed quite clearly.

November 30th 1305 GMT

Despite the clear conditions, I was only able to see the same sunspot pair that I had been following.

November 29th 1305 GMT

Despite the clear conditions, I was only just able to see the sunspots from the day before. The new ones, visible on the Big Bear images, were nowhere to be seen.

November 28th 1305 GMT

The Sun was low in the sky, even though it was barely an hour since noon. The sunspots were quite hard to find and were approaching the centre of the solar disc.

November 26th 1320 GMT

I bin scanned the Sun through hazy conditions but was able to see the sunspot clearly. The sunspot I had seen the day before had a small companion. It had either formed recently or, possibly, become visible as it had rotated to a better viewpoint.

November 25th 1900 GMT

I tried to catch some star trails of the Pleaides and set my DSLR at ISO 40 18mm focal length and bulb.


November 25th 1320 GMT

The Sun was already starting to get low in the sky but I managed to get a scan in  after walking a way for it to clear the treetops to the south west. I saw the new sunspot activity, that had rotated on, for the first time.

November 25th 0720 GMT

Finally, a bit of action after a week of cloud. I took a few full disc shots of the Moon with my DSLR.

November 18th 2310 GMT

It was not cloudless but the weather was far better than  predicted.  As I was tired, I just took:

13 frames of the full lunar disc at ISO 400 F/L 300mm and 1/4000 second exposure.
4 frames of Orion's belt at the same but 2 seconds exposure. As three were blurred, I processed a single frame to get this.


4 frames of 6: M42 as above


3 frames of the polar region with 30 seconds exposure

November 17th 1800 GMT

I did another lunar shoot.

November 17th 1315 GMT

I bin scanned the Sun, having seen some sunspots on the Big Bear images in the morning. I did not see any, despite the unexpectedly clear conditions.

November 16th 0720 GMT

I had some clear sky before I left for work, so did some lunar frames at 1/4000 second, 300mm focal length and ISO 400.

November 13th 1140 GMT

Would you believe it was my first look at the Sun in hydrogen alpha light in the month? Not if you'd seen the weather in England. The white light images from the professional observatories showed nothing, so I went straight to hydrogen alpha.
Despite tuning, I could not see any detail on the solar surface but I did full disc and quadrant shots anyway.


November 13th 0000 GMT

Finally, some clear-ish sky. The Moon was two days from full phase, leaving only one sensible option. I took several full frame lunar shots with my Mak and DSLR at ISO 400 and 1/1000 second exposure and some close ups with a 3x Barlow lens, giving a focal length of about 4.5 metres.

When I ran out of space on my camera, I had a quick bin browse but cloud had moved in to obscure most of the north and west. The Hyades seemed largely unaffected but the Pleaides (M45) revealed few more than the main stars. I caught some of M35 and the Orion Great Nebula (M42) looked good for the conditions.

November 10th 1730 GMT

Again, the Moon was out but cloud was forecast for later. I repeated the shot from the day before, with a slightly larger phase. 

November 9th 1800 GMT

With a bad weather forecast there was some clear sky, so I took a few frames of the Moon at 300mm focal length, ISO 400 and 1/4000 second exposure.

November 9th 1305 GMT

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

November 7th 2050 GMT

I set a camera on a bulb exposure and 18mm focal length. I tried using ISO 200 to see if it would reduce the background noise and pointed it north west, for a change.

November 7th 1750 GMT

I needed to stop on the way from home and noticed it was rather clear. Venus was near the horizon but not too ear anything else. I took a few frames of the Moon at 1/1000 second at ISO 400 and 300mm focal length.

I also snapped the Moon with Mars.

I also had a sneaky look at the Pleiades, Melotte 20 and the Perseus Double Cluster. It wasn't quite dark but the latter two clusters showed just about as many stars as in full darkness. I could only see the main stars of the Pleiades but it was very low.

November 4th 2330 GMT

I went out again at 2330 GMT. I looked for Taurid meteors, while taking some exposures of the Hyades star cluster.

I saw two meteors, almost identical, at 2335 GMT and 0000 GMT, with the second being about 0.3 to 0.4 of a magnitude fainter. Both travelled east below Auriga but had short trails. They were 3rd magnitude.

I also took a look at Betelguese and it was back to the same old problem. It definitely appeared brighter than Rigel and much brighter than Procyon. However, it was not much brighter than Aldebaran and far fainter than Capella. So what was its magnitude??? 0.4 would be a good bet!
The Hyades did not stack with Deep Sky Stacker but I managed to stack 82 images with Microsoft ICE. I finished off with GIMP.

November 4th 2115 GMT

I took a couple of 30 second exposures of the Perseus region in the hope of capturing a Taurid meteor.

I then took a longer "bulb" exposure of about half an hour to capture star trails and hope another meter or two would appear. In a word, no!!!

November 2nd 2150 GMT

I took a couple of 30 second exposures of the Perseus region. I processed the better one and could see M45, Melotte 20, M34 and the Perseus Double Cluster.

November 2nd 1750 GMT

I saw the Moon and Venus on the way home but the A46 isn't always the easiest road to pull over on. I tried some lunar shots and some of Venus but was unable to capture both in the same frame before Venus vanished!
I did not catch Venus on any shots but the zenith showed Cygnus and Lyra.

November 2nd 1325 GMT

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