Friday, December 03, 2010

What a sight!

The early morning sky this morning was something to behold.

Around 6.45am, looking almost due South, The moon was a perfect crescent, Venus was shining brilliantly above it, which was also a crescent, and then hovering a short way above that was Saturn.

Regardless of being unable to get my telescope out, due to the snow, I have neither the scope or the camera to capture such an image. The fact that the morning air was so clear just added to the spectacle. The Dawn sky tends to have just one feature for me, Venus, so to have the crescent moon and Saturn as well was fantastic. Spica was also visible but not quite as impressive.

I'm unsure as to when this alignment will happen again (Venus and Saturn will be there but I don't know about the moon) so it was a shame I wasn't able to photograph it but it's something that I'll remember for a while. I called my partner and 2yr old to see it as well and both were suitably impressed.

As mentioned in earlier posts, taking pictures of what we see is a great aid to our layman descriptions but sometimes it's not feasible. The best way to see what it looks like is to see for yourself!

Keep looking up!


Sunday, November 28, 2010

Chilly .... I said chilly ....

OK, so no picture this time, but it was such a good night on Saturday (27th Nov.) that I just had to get the scope out. Things of interest were: Jupiter - still no southern equatorial band and no red spot when I viewed it (typical!) but four moons. M45 was splendid and clear. Orion nebula (M42) was really good - and I got this through a tree almost on the horizon - the air was soooo crisp! Then I was getting cold and my wife came for a look, so swung over to the Andromeda Galaxy M31 - what a sight that was - absolutely splendid!
All observations through 4in. Mak using low to medium power (no barlow).


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Yesterday's Moon

Here we have the Moon at approx. 4pm on 15th Nov 2010. It was still daylight and the moon looked superb with Jupiter just to the south-east.
The air was really cold and crisp.
Taken with Nikon D40 at prime focus using Celestron 80mm Wide View with 400mm focal length. f/5 1/320sec. ISO 200. Light metering is centre weighted.


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Enough ...??!!

I know we may be getting too much Jupiter and Moon (is that possible?!) but as they are looking rather splendid and it'll be something else's turn soon - Orion, Saturn, etc. let's stick with it.

The Jovian system again here and the Moon with some highlights.

I have also found a superb Moon primer on the Interweb here.

Both photos are from a 102mm Mak (1300mm fl) at prime focus using a Nikon D40.

Normal observing was best with my 15mm Meade Plossl (86x).


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Moon, 11 days Old

Apologies to those who are bored with moon pictures but I thought it would be a good comparison to show the moon just two days apart.

When these shots were taken, 19-11-2010, the moon was 11.77 days old and 251.601 miles away. It was also at 90% illumination so features like Tycho, where as they are just visible in the pictures below are rendered almost flat when viewed face on. Depending on the skys tomorrow I will try and get a shot of this again as Crater Schickard looks very impressive if the light is right.

Finally, as more of the surface is revealed what were prominent features before start to look flat as you view them "face on". However Crater Copernicus, 2/3rds up on the right hand side above Tycho, looks impressive with it's ejecta clearly showing as opposed to the picture of the moon at 9 days old where it looks like any of the other craters, all be it deeper.


To put the record straight ....

There has been much consternation (?) about my image of the Jovian system a few nights ago. This is to set my good friend (Al's) mind at rest. Here is a screen shot from Stellarium timed to the night in question.
Thanks to all the good folk who took time in trying to answer Als questions.


Monday, October 18, 2010

The Moon, 9 days old

The last 2 weeks have not been much good for spotting anything other than cloud but last night, 17-10-10 the cloud parted and the stars were back.

These are my latest, and in my mind, best pictures.

The moon was 9 days old and approx 245,000 miles away, it was also at 75% of it's full brightness so the views in the scope were quite clear

The top picture shows an untouched picture of La Luna in all it's glory.

The middle shot is a close up, using a 10mm eyepiece and clearly shows Crater Bossingault, which is 131km in diameter & Crater Boguslawsy which is 97km diameter toward the bottom of the picture and Piccolomini at 88km diameter at the top of the two deeper craters toward the termination line.

Excuse the artistic license on the last shot but by rotating the image you get a more "Apollo" view. I'd seen this done on other sites & thought I'd give it a try..


Thursday, October 14, 2010

By Jove

This image of the Jovian system was taken last night. I still haven't got the exposure correct, but shows clearly the four Galilaen moons.


Thursday, October 07, 2010

Forget East and West, Look Up!

Last night I decided to look for something different and decided on C39 (or Mel 20 depending on which catalogue you use) and aimed the tripod at C39 using the given co-ordinates. It said it was in Perseus but I don't think I quite understand how star charts would "wrap around" your head if you looked at them yet. Anyways.....I pointed the telescope almost straight up into Perseus' "Sword handle" and, my word, forget your East and West, look up! It's my first galactic cluster and I was amazed at the 100's of stars visible in the 10mm eyepiece. As I moved the slow motion controls backwards and forward there was just more and more stars. I will try and get a picture but in the meantime the picture, on the right, is an image taken from the European Southern Observatory. This is a wide-view picture of what I saw.

In future posts I will try and take my own picture of the cluster so we can compare and contrast between the images taken in a Sheffield back garden and ones from the European Southern Observatory!


The new scope

So, as it was the first clear(ish) night for a while I thought i'd give it half an hour and check out my new scope.
I had to set up low down in my decked area so that I could best avoid street light glare and also someone's security light! (Turn the damn thing off when you're at home!).
The scope is a 102mm (4in) Mak. I stuck to a low power - 52x, so to maintain a wide field.
Well I am soooooo impressed by the new scope. Checked out Jupiter - only Northern band visible still and the Red Spot not in transit.
All four Galilean moons were clearly visible. Then I swung east to the Andromeda Galaxy M31. This never ceases to amaze me. The central "bulge" clearly visible.
I then went on a hunt for Comet Hartley, but couldn't find it. What I did observe was the Double Cluster just South-South East of Cassiopeia - a lovely sight.


Wednesday, October 06, 2010

The Jodcast

Just thought i'd let folk know of one of the many on-line resources myself and Al use which is the "Jodcast".
The podcasts are also available free via iTunes for those with iPods.
There is also a related site to get a low-down on the night sky month by month here:


Monday, October 04, 2010

I Can See!

Last night I set up my new scope (IE finding Vega and aligning the RA ring so that it read 18:36) and decided to have a quick scan around.

The sky was full of wispy clouds but there were many tempting sights for me to find up there. So initially, I went for Jupiter, since it is so bright and easy to find. My first sight amazed me. I’m using a Celestron 102mm spotting scope with a 10mm eyepiece so wasn’t sure of the detail I would be able to see. I literally took a step back once the cloud bands on Jupiter were revealed. I say “bands” the Southern Hemisphere ban was missing which would have made it easier to see the red spot if it had been facing the earth (it wasn’t). I also saw 3 of it’s 4 moons, which they were I can’t be sure but my image looked liked MJ’s post and picture of last month.

The point of this post is to explain the superlatives I may use when I do locate objects of interest. I am still in awe of the things I can find with my relatively cheap equipment. All you need is a little patience and and a half decent star chart.

Next on the cards (and the weather looking good for tonight) is Andromeda. I know roughly where it is but I’ve still to find it in the scope. While I'm in that area as well I may seek out Hartleys comet. But one step at a time and all that.


Friday, October 01, 2010

Monkey See, Monkey Do

As my learned friend has given a brief synopsis about his interest I thought it only wise to include mine.

My interest stems from my brother who had an interest in stars. Back in the early 80's, along with my dad they mounted an old brass telescope onto an improvised "tripod" using an old broom handle and 2 bits of wood. My brother taught me the where the Plaides, Cassiopeia and Orion were and, thus, a spark was lit.

I was a naked eye astronomer until about 8 years ago when I bought my first scope but having little patience my main target was the moon as I could find it without too much trouble!

Most of my astronomy is still done with the naked eye and as a "fair weather camper" I'm always amazed to see the multitude of stars when out in the field hitherto unseen in the City. It is with this in mind and my fellow bloggers enthusiasm that I now take to the garden on a clear night and look heavenward.


Comet Hartley 2

You should deffo try and see this!


Just thought that I would give a little background as to my interest in all things Astronomical.
It was Christmas 1981, I was 10 and was given a 3” reflector as my “main” present. At the time it was the best thing ever (I now know it was really a “toy” scope). Never the less, it opened up a whole new interest for me – I could always get a good view of the main points of interest – The Moon, Jupiter, Saturn, Orion and Halley’s Comet. I also used my Dad’s 10x50 binoculars masking-taped to his old Velbon tripod!
I joined the local Astronomy Society but even at that young age realised it was run more like a Gentlemen’s Club (and still is to this day as far as I can see – what a shame). This whetted my appetite even more as we did at least get to use the 18” reflector that they had in a dome, my main memory being that of seeing Saturn just sat there in the heavens.
The rest is history really and I have gone in and out of my interest for years, but recently (with my very close family friend who I share this blog with) I have become more and more “into” it. I think to some extent fuelled by recent events and personalities – The International Space Station, TV programmes like Wonders, Prof. Brain Cox and of course Patrick Moore and Brian May (eh?!) – You know, bushy haired guitarist with Queen – he’s a scientist!


Saturday, September 25, 2010

Looking good

The above are my shots of the moon. I'm still getting used to the equipment but after a bit of jiggery pokery on the PC, Tycho is clearly visible and I'm pretty confident that they actually look like the moon! The top picture is taken with a Celestron 80mm spotting scope + Lumix compact camera using a 10mm eye piece and the second is the same set up but using a 20mm eyepeice.

Friday, September 24, 2010

We are there!

At last!

After cloudy nights for almost a month tonight gave us a glimpse of what to expect this Autumn/Winter. Not the best of nights for anything but the moon to the south, but was good to get out in the chilly air and try the new scope out properly for the first time. (I have "misplaced" my camera remote so had a little trouble getting the images stable enough). The image of the moon here really shows you the ejecta over some of the larger crater floors, but also from the craters themselves - crater Tycho is very prominent. Jupiter was splendid in the scope with the main cloud bands clearly visible. The image here shows Ganymede, Callisto and Europa - Io had just set behind as I got the camera ready!
So, I guess we've done it. Our patience has paid off and we look forward to further posts.


Thursday, September 23, 2010

We're Almost There!

Whereas this blog was set up to discuss our musings and coffee during our many, intended, night time astral activities, apart from the 2 photos by Matt we haven't really lived up to our original remit.

That, however, is about to change. After a correct setting up of my telescope and the iminent setting up of Matts scope in the Peak District we are almost at a stage when we can put regular photographic content onto the page. (My adapter, to attach my compact camera to my scope, should arrive in the next few days.)

Although we will have the technical kit and set up though there is still the problem of the weather. I witnessed Jupiter at it's closest point to Earth on Monday night, a fine sight but no camera to evidence this. Since this date there has not been a clear evening to view anything else so please bear with us.


Monday, September 13, 2010

What I nearly saw!

The last two evenings have proven to be fine nights for sightings and now, at last, the telescope is out in Sheffield. I say out, I still need some fine adjustments between finder and spotter scope but it's outside and looking at the stars. Now then, maybe that last bit needs to be amended, it's more a case of looking for the stars!

My first sighting was, what I thought to be Jupiter, It filled the eyepiece and I was patting myself on the back when looking at the direction it was in it actually turned out to be Capella. Don't get me wrong it was a great sight but I did think it was Jupiter. I was suprised to read that Capella is actually a binary star. It certainly looked like just one object in my scope. I'm starting to doubt it was Capella now!

When I turned the scope around for a look at Arcturus I couldn't find it in the telescope anywhere. What the evening proved was it is just not feasible to hurriedly set up a telescope and expect to be able to find things. It needs a lot more preparation than I gave it to get the results I was expecting. The next fine afternoon I shall be pacing my garden and marking out North with a large stick or marker pen and will hopefully have a more rewarding night.


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

OK, so we're off and running....
Just managed to get these two pictures last night (17 Aug) around 21:30 - Lyra (Vega in the top right) and Mars.
It was slightly cloudy, but later on (2:30 ish) came very clear and Jupiter looked superb and bright in the south. A splendid sight even to the naked eye.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Meteor Shower

Well, we had a look from two different locations but the clouds prevented us from seeing a damn thing.
We should have something to report soon .... surely.

Where ARE those Meteors?

Well, true to form, our meteor shower was unseen by the gents at Constellation and Coffee. What was due to be the best sighting for the past 3 years, new moon etc, was blighted by cloud cover. Cassiopiea was in clear view and looked splendid and Matt had a nice view of Saturn. Me? Other than the Alto Cumulous the only shower I saw was at 6.45 this morning.

Here's hoping for some more positive sightings - bring on those frosty evenings!

Monday, July 19, 2010

New Arrival

Good news, One of the team, Matt, has had a new addition to his family, a baby girl. As such viewings may be put on hold as a collective but I'm sure they'll be many nights spent looking up at stars in the small hours rocking a baby to sleep!

More news as we get it.

Monday, July 12, 2010

1st meeting post-poned

The first meeting is being placed on hold as the weather has closed in on us. We'll keep you posted, well blogged actually ....
(Image from Metcheck)

Friday, July 09, 2010

First meeting

We are due to have our first meeting on the 12th/13th July, fingers crossed! The coffee of choice will be a Sumartran blend. Filtered rather than a fresh bean grind but until we're guaranteed clear skies I'm not cracking open "the good stuff".