Friday, May 3, 2019

May 2019

May 14th 2110 GMT

It was a bit hazy but I had a go at the Moon anyway. I used my DSLR at 300mm focal length, ISO 100 and 1/800 second exposure.

May 14th 0550 GMT

The Sun was low, so I increased the exposure time to 1/1600 second when I did my DSLR shot. Unfortunately, I did not detect any sunspots.

May 13th 2105 GMT

It was hazy but the Moon was high in the sky. I took some frames at 300mm focal length, ISO 100 and 1/800 second exposure.

May 13th 1120 GMT

I repeated the solar shoot with my DSLR and filters.

May 13th 2315 GMT

I took some Moon shots with my DSLR and Mak at 1.54m focal length, ISO 100 1/100 seconds exposure. Then I took close-ups at 4.62m with exposures of 1/10 then 1/6 seconds exposure.

May 12th 2115 GMT

I repeated the Moon shot but with ISO setting of 100.

May 12th 1715 GMT

I took a few shots of the Moon in daylight at 300mm focal length, ISO 400 and 1/500 second exposure.

May 12th 1210 GMT

I managed to capture the large sunspot "on film" with my DSLR 300mm focal length, ISO 100 and 1/4000 second exposure. I also used my Baader filter.

May 11th 2210 GMT

The Moon was almost at first quarter and I repeated the shot from the evening before.

May 11th 1230 GMT

I bin scanned the Sun through a gap in the clouds and noted that the sunspot had rotated.

May 10th 2230 GMT

I caught the Moon through a gap in the clouds at 300mm focal length, ISO 400 and 1/1000 second exposure.

May 10th 1000 GMT

Conditions were poor, with lots of moving cloud of various thicknesses. I bin scanned the Sun but only saw one of the sunspots that I had seen on the Big Bear and Learmonth observatory images.

May 6th 0940 GMT

I used my DSLR and solar filter to capture the Sun. Focal length was 300mm, brightness ISO 100 and 1/4000 second exposure.

Unfortunately, my focus was slightly off and I only saw a faint hint of the sunspot on the images.

May 5th 2215 GMT

I had a rather fortunate short session as the weather and forecast had been bad all day. There was cloud and haze, so I decided to do some visuals with my 15x70 binoculars. Obviously, I went straight for the Beehive (M44). It never ceases to amaze me photographically or visually. M35 was lost in the murk (no surprises there either!). Melotte 20 was as badly placed as it gets from the UK but was still a pleasant sight. I was also delighted to see both globular clusters in Hercules: M13 and M92. I tried to catch M29 in Cygnus but haze and distinction stopped it. Thin and thick cloud started to encroach from both east and west, so that was that.

May 4th 2130 GMT

Either it was not quite dark or there was lots of extinction near the horizon. I would have probably gone out later but I had work the next day. I set my DSLR to 70mm focal length, ISO 6400 and 8 seconds exposure. My targets were M35, the Beehive (M44), Melotte 20, the constellation of Lyra, M29 in Cygnus and an audacious attempt at the galaxies M81 and M82 near the Plough (Big Dipper).

My first image was the Beehive (M44).

I didn't get M35, despite two attempts to aim my camera at it. It expect it to be the last opportunity of the spring, as it was getting really close to the Sun. However, the attempt was not a total waste of time, as I captured some nice star fields in the Milky Way.

Melotte 20 showed well, as usual.

Naturally, I was pleased with Lyra.

I didn't catch M29 but caught a few stars in the area.

No, I didn't get M81 nor M82 but the area in Ursa Major looked nice anyway.

There was also a meteor in one of the last set of frames.

May 4th 1640 GMT

There was some clear sky. The Sun looked quiet in hydrogen alpha light but I had a go anyway with my PST and DSLR.

May 3rd 2300 GMT

I had an unexpected clear spell for a while. Without any whole constellations on show, I did a shot of Melotte 111 with my DSLR at 70mm, ISO 6400 and 8 seconds exposure. I managed to get a few frames in before cloud moved in. Rather than inwardly moaning, I was glad to manage anything at all on a poor night. I kept half an eye open for Scorpiid and late Lyrid meteors, The odds were against it and I did not notice any sporadic meteors either.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Phil's Profile

About Philip Pugh

Philip Pugh describes himself as a boring person who sometimes does interesting things. From 2007 to 2011, he published four titles under Patrick Moore's "Practical Astronomy" series.

Despite the success of these books, he always wanted to write a beginner book and published "Being an Astronomer" in 2018. He is now writing shorter pieces under the "Phil's Scribblings" series. The first one is "Astrophotography with a DSLR". Many of Phil's Scribblings were available on the now-defunct "Astronomy Wise" website.

Phil's writing history goes back to 1980 when he published a humorous piece in "Angling" magazine. Recently, he has had articles published in Best Binocular Review:

He is an active astronomer, with a special interest in the Sun and has a popular blog, known worldwide:

Despite having a small budget for astronomy and photography equipment, he has produced some interesting photographs:
Phil is married to Helga and they have one adult daughter, Marcela.

Although mostly known most recently for astronomy, Phil was once a competitive chess player, winning county junior championships and was a bridge master. His other claim to fame was being born exactly the same day as Bruce Willis.

Thursday, April 4, 2019

April 2019

April 25th 0000 GMT

It was clear, having been cloudy for most of the day. My plan was to catch Lyrids, so I set the camera at 16mm focal length, ISO 6400 and 8 seconds exposure. Unfortunately, conditions deteriorated, so I was moving the camera around to catch some clear patches of sky. Needless to say, I did not see any meteors.

I had four decent frames of Ursa Minor.

I had 18 frames of Lyra but Deep Sky Stacker selected 11 and I also caught Cygnus.

I only had one frame of Bootes with Corona Borealis but it was enough.

April 22nd 0000 GMT

The Moon was low in the south east. I used my DSLR at 300mm focal length, ISO 100 and 1/500 second exposure.

April 21st 2145 GMT

There was some clear sky but, on closer inspection, it turned out to be hazy. With it being one day before the Lyrids maximum, I went out armed with my DSLR. I set the focal length to 16mm, ISAO to 6400 and exposure to 15 seconds. It was obvious that I was catching a lot of sky glow. I aimed at the head of Draco and set the exposure time to 4 seconds. I did not see any Lyrid meteors but saw a faint sporadic meteor flash through Cygnus.

I thought I had caught a faint, short meteor trail but it turned out to be a satellite trail.

I used Deep Sky Stacker to create this widefield image of Draco's head from 150 frames using a 2-stage stack.

April 21st 2315 GMT

I snapped the Moon with my DSLR at 300mm focal length, ISO 100 and 1/800 second exposure.

Although the scattered moonlight did not instil much confidence, I started at the region around Lyra for a few minutes. Afterwards, I was still waiting for my first meteor of the year.

April 20th 1230 GMT

I photographed the Sun in hydrogen alpha light with my PST and decided to try autofocus. No such luck! I did not have any useable frames.

April 18th 2215 GMT

Conditions  were hazy again. As I was tired, I just snapped the Moon with my DSLR at 300mm focal length, ISO 100 and 1/500 second exposure. I stacked 5 of 9 frames.

April 18th 1500 GMT

It was a bit hazy, so I went for the Sun with DSLR again, in hope.

April 17th 2200 GMT

The Moon was nearing full phase and thin cloud was scattering its light. The faintest star visible was Castor. The only sensible target was the Moon itself but I wasn’t complaining. After some under-exposed shots, I used my Mak and DSLR at 1.54m focal length, ISO 100 and 1/500 second exposure. I took 100 frames. It was under-exposed but a bit of processing sorted it out.

I used a 3x Barlow lens to boost the focal length to 4.6m and increased the exposure time to 1/50 second. I took several runs, including Tycho, Plato and Copernicus.

First there was 51 frames of Tycho.

Then there were 50 frames of the terminator below Tycho:

This was another set.

I combined the first 3 sets of close-ups to create a stitched composite.

Then there was Plato.

Mare Crisium.


The final sequence was a bit disappointing.

April 17th 1100 GMT

After a cloudy day the day before, the weather reverted to hazy sunlight. The sunspot took some tracking down and it had rotated quite noticeably in two days.

April 15th 1130 GMT

Conditions for solar viewing and photography were poor again. Owing to the lack of success photographing the Sun the day before, I bin scanned the Sun instead. The large sunspot had rotated quite considerably.

April 14th 2215 GMT

Conditions were very poor but I had a crack at the Moon. I needed ISO 800 and 1/200 second exposure to register an image. Naturally, I used 300mm focal length. The result was very poor and not worth showing.

April 14th 0920 GMT

Conditions were poor, with lots of thin cloud but I proceeded anyway with my solar shoot. I caught the faint signature of the sunspot.

April 13th 1935 GMT

I did some shots of the Moon with my DSLR at 300mm focal length, ISO 400 and 1/1000 second exposure. I stacked six of 11 frames in Microsoft ICE and finished off in GIMP.

April 13th 0920 GMT

I did another shoot of the Sun with my DSLR at 300mm focal length, ISO 100 and 1/4000 second exposure.

April 12th 0900 GMT

My hips were aching, so instead of using my Mak with my DSLR, I used the DSLR alone with 300mm focal length, ISO 100 and 1/4000 second exposure. I could see the large sunspot clearly in the viewfinder but did I over-expose the shot?

I then proceeded to snap the Sun with my PST, as the day before. However, it did not show any more detail than the "white light" shot.

April 11th 1015 GMT

The sky was clear at times. I took a few frames of the Sun with my Mak and DSLR. The large sunspot was easy to see. I used ISO 100, 1/4000 second exposure and 1540mm focal length. Even with filters, the Sun looked clear.

Following some advice from  the folks at East Midlands Stargazers, I re-checked the focus and etalon tuning on my PST. With the sunspot and faculae surrounding it, I managed to see both clearly after a few adjustments. This was much easier than without any noticeable features.

April 11th 2340 GMT

The Moon was low. I went out again but with my camera alone. I used ISO 6400, 16mm focal length and 15 seconds exposures. I took sets of frames of Virgo, Arcturus and Lyra. I have loads of shots of Lyra but it is one of my favourites.

I just caught the Virgo bowl and not the whole constellation. I needed a wider view or multiple images to stitch.

Bootes and Corona Borealis came out well.

Lyra turned out well.

April 10th 2115 GMT

The Moon was a waxing crescent and quite bright. It was some time since I had had a decent lunar session. I took some full disc frames with my Mak and DSLR at 1540mm focal length, ISO 100 and 1/250 second exposure.

I then took a series of sets of frames using the above setup with a 3X Barlow lens and 1/25 second exposure. However, the focus was slightly out.

April 10th 1045 GMT

Despite the weather forecast, there were some clear patches between the moving cloud. I managed to see the large sunspot at last! I was using my binoculars and filters.

April 9th 2015 GMT

Conditions were poor but I had a go at the crescent moon anyway. I used my DSLR at 300mm focal length, ISO 6400 and 1/4000 second exposure, hand-held.

April 8th 1545 GMT

I saw some sunspots on the Big Bear images but a bin scan came up blank.

April 6th 1230 GMT

I tried to check the Sun in hydrogen alpha light but the apparently light cloud obscured any features that may have been present.

April 1st 1150 GMT

April kicked off with a clear sky. Although sunspots were visible on the professional observatory images, the Sun seemed quiet in hydrogen alpha light. I took a few frames anyway.