Sunday, April 1, 2018

April 2018


April 21st 1730 GMT


I checked the Sun in hydrogen alpha light. It looked quiet again.
 
 


April 21st 1515 GMT


I checked the Sun in white light with my bins but did not see any sign of the activity that I saw on the SOHO images.


April 20th  2135 GMT


 
I was late back from work, so did not have time to do much. I took some DSLR shots of the Moon then aimed my DSLR at the head of Draco, with an outside chance of catching a Lyrid meteor or two.


I did not catch any meteors but I did catch Nu Draconi, in the top left of this image.


I caught some other stars in Draco in further exposures.


 

April 20th 1250  GMT


 
I checked the Sun in hydrogen alpha light and took some afocal shots with my PST and DSLR. It was quiet again.

 


I had seen some activity on the SOHO images and it was natural for me to check it out. The review binoculars gave me a great view the Moon, with great contrast. There was some minor chromatic aberration. I had some difficulty getting the solar filters on, as the caps are attached. The view of the Sun was brighter than with my own bins but I did not see any activity. The chromatic aberration was minimal.


April 19th 2110 GMT


I went out again with the review binoculars. I started off with the Beehive (M44), one of my favourite objects. It did not look much different to the view through my own bins but the lack of astigmatism at the edge of the field of view showed the background stars. Next up was Melotte 111 and I saw a satellite pass through it. I started generally browsing around and the review binoculars really showed their capabilities! Melotte 20 showed better than with my bins and I was able to pick out M36, M37 and M38 in Auriga. This was at an unfavourable elevation and with the Moon only a few degrees away. I could also see M35. I picked off Mizar/Alcor and Nu Draconi but no surprises there. What really surprised me was being able to see M65 and M66 in Leo. Seeing M81 and M82 was more difficult, as I had to rest my neck. M13 looked superb, despite the poor elevation and I also saw M3 and M51. I only regret that I had to work the next day, so would not be able to stay up after moonset.


April 19th 1940 GMT


I was tempted to snap the Moon and Venus but had a review to write. First Light Optics had lent me some Helios Stellar II 15x70 binoculars. This was especially interesting, as I had bought their predecessor in 2002. My first impression is that they were much more sturdy by design but heavier, too. The build quality was much better than my existing bins. I first tried them on the Moon and the general impression was favourable and the “earthshine” showed much better than with my bins. The only negative was that there were some yellow-orange colour fringes near the limb on the light side but these were worse in my bins. There was no astigmatism, even at the edge of the field of view, unlike my bins.

 

To both bins, Venus showed a full disc and the brighter stars were clear and sharp. The Stellar II binoculars picked up many fainter stars in the twilight conditions.


April 19th 0750 GMT


I checked out the Sun in hydrogen alpha light early, as not to miss it. It was still quiet.
 
 

April 18th 2015 GMT


It was a day of glorious sunshine. From an astronomical point of view, I missed it due to work but at least I was earning. I was home for a late dinner and caught the Moon and Venus in the evening sky with my DSLR at 70mm focal length. I also took some frames of the Moon at 300mm focal length.
 
 


April 16th 0715 GMT


There was some hazy sunshine. I decided to take an early look at the Sun in hydrogen alpha light, as the forecast for later was cloudy. Again, the Sun was quiet.
 
 

April 14th 2230 GMT

There was lots of haze. Jupiter was low in the south east but I could not see any moons. I was able to see the Beehive (M44) and Melotte 111 but neither were at their best and I did not fancy my chances of getting even a half-decent photo.


April 14th 1950 GMT


It was clear, with Venus in the west. Unfortunately, I was unable to obtain an image using the Bresser Electronic Eyepiece. I saw the planet through an eyepiece but could not tell it from 100% phase.

 

April 14th 1540 GMT


The Sun was quiet in hydrogen alpha light but it was great to see it again. I caught only part of the disc, though.
 
 

April 5th 0900 GMT


 
The sky was clear, for a change, so I had a go at photographing the Sun in hydrogen alpha light with my PST and DSLR. Although the Sun was quiet, I also tried quadrant shots.


had some detail on one quadrant shot but I had a little idea I was thinking of.



April 4th 2015 GMT


 I set up my DSLR at ISO 6400 (yes, really this time) and aimed it at the pole star, Polaris. I also used 70mm focal length and 7 seconds’ exposure. Some of the frames were ruined by cloud but, yes, I stacked 80 frames in Deep Sky Stacker and actually used dark frames! I was quite pleased with the result, with the Engagement Ring Asterism showing nicely in the centre.
 
 

 
I did a little bit of bin browsing in the west. I could just about make out M41 in Canis Major. The Orion Great Nebula (M42) showed the classis butterfly shape and the Pleiades (M45) and Hyades showed quite well. Melotte 20 in Perseus showed well but the Double Cluster and M34 were tough. I decided to have a go at the Andromeda Galaxy (M31), possibly for the last time in spring. I was amazed to still see it.

April 3rd 2110 GMT


I aimed the camera at M35 at 70mm focal length, ISO 6400 and 7 seconds’ exposure.
 
Doh!! I had left the ISO on 100 for M35. I went out to check and it was hazy around Gemini, so I aimed it at Leo’s back, once I had set the ISO to 6400.
 
I could not stack the M35 shots, nor the shots at Leo's back but one of the second set of shots showed Melotte 111 from a single frame.
 

I took a photo of Arcturus as a separator between two sets of darks and processed it to reveal a few stars.

 
On the morning of April 5th, I decided to commit a mortal sin by re-running Deep Sky Stacker without dark frame subtraction. It worked on Melotte 111.



April 1st 0900 GMT


Conditions were not perfect, with a lot of thin cloud around. The Sun appeared featureless in hydrogen alpha light but I took some full disc shots anyway.
 


Monday, March 5, 2018

March 2018


March 28th 1320 GMT


It was the first day of the year that I went out to observe in shorts and a T-shirt, even though it was a degree or two too cold. The Sun was quiet, although I could visually detect something on the left limb. I took some full disc shots with my PST and DSLR.
 
 

March 26th 0950 GMT

The Sun looked quiet in hydrogen alpha light but I still took some full disc shots with my PST and DSLR.


March 25th 2005 GMT

I took over 200 lunar full disc frames with my Mak and DSLR. I used 1.54m focal length, ISO 100 and 1/1000 second exposure.

 

I then took some frames with my Bresser Electronic Eyepiece.





 
 

 



March 21st 2000 GMT


I had a rare patch of clear sky. I started with the Moon with my Mak and DSLR. As I was using ISO 100, I had to increase the exposure time to 1/100 second.
 
 

 
I wasn’t sure whether to fetch the Bresser Electronic Eyepiece for lunar close-ups or try some deep sky shots. Even though the Moon was around, I went for the latter. I set the ISO to 6400 and exposure time to 1/3 second. I tried for the Pleaides (M45), Orion Great Nebula (M42) and M35.

The M45 result was no different to the sort of shots I took many years ago with afocal projection. I was unable to stack using DSS and had to use Microsoft ICE. I think using RAW format instead of JPEG could have made a difference.


The Orion Great Nebula (M42) shot showed the central part and the Trapezium.



I only captured a single star in the M35 shot!

March 20th 2000 GMT


Conditions were not great but the Moon was in a clearish patch of sky. I took some snaps with my DSLR at 300mm focal length, ISO 100 and 1/250 second exposure.
 
 


March 19th 1850 GMT


I saw the Moon and Venus and tried various combinations of exposure times. I used 1.54m focal length (Mak), ISO 100 and the best snaps seemed to be at 1/50 second exposure. I snapped Venus more in hope than expectancy.
 


March 19th 1300 GMT


I had a rare clear patch of sky. The Sun was very quiet, even in hydrogen alpha light and I took some full disc shots with my DSLR (afocal) and PST.
 
 


March 16th 2010 GMT


I had a rare bit of clear sky, so left a camera out aimed at the Pleaides. I used 70mm focal length, ISO 6400 and 7 seconds’ exposure. I left the camera out, with the faint hope of capturing a meteor.
 
 


March 16th 1730 GMT


I checked the Sun in hydrogen alpha light. It was too low down for clear observation and I did not see any features.
 

March 10th 2120 GMT


Conditions were not as good as when I checked a few minutes before and there was lots of light cloud. I had a go at the Hyades, M35 and Pleaides, more in hope than expectancy.
 
I caught a meteor in the Hyades shot.
 
 

March 10th 1845 GMT

I saw Venus low in the west when I was out and about. I checked with my binoculars but could not tell the phase from a 100% full disc. After a bit of hunting, I found Mercury about 4 degrees from it, slightly to the right is straight up. I could not detect a phase either but it was clearly a disc and not a point source, like a star. Unfortunately, I did not have a suitable camera with me but it was the first time I had seen Mercury for yonks, where a yonk is Pi (3.14159,,,) years!


March 7th 0800 GMT


 I snapped the Moon with my DSLR, trying out various settings. The result was some detail in the daylight conditions but not one of my best shots.
 
 

March 5th 0845 GMT


Finally, I started March off. I had a clearish patch of sky surrounding the Sun and checked it out in hydrogen alpha light (knowing that there were no sunspots on the Big Bear images). The solar disc seemed bland and uninteresting, so I just took some full disc shots.
 



Friday, February 2, 2018

February 2018

February 28th 1600 GMT


It was well below zero outside, so I checked the Sun in hydrogen alpha light from inside the house. The Sun was very quiet but I took some shots, just in case I could capture anything unusual.
 




 

February 26th 0840 GMT


I checked the Sun in my PST and saw a single flare that I had seen on the professional observatory images. The big question was whether I could capture it on camera. Using my DSLR for afocal photography was quite new to me. I tried using a longer focal length eyepiece of 32mm.
 
Yes, it just shows up a little lower than the centre of the disc and some smaller ones and faint filaments.

February 25th 1810 GMT


I wasn’t happy with my Moon photo in daylight, so decided to have another go. I used 300mm focal length, ISO 100 and 1/500 second exposure. I then found Venus low in the west and took some widefield shots at a variety of exposure times at ISO 6400.
 
 


February 25th 1420 GMT


I bin scanned the Moon with my DSLR.
 
 


February 25th 1405 GMT


The Sun was quiet in hydrogen alpha light. I attempted to photograph it using my DSLR afocally.
 
 

February 24th 2320 GMT


I snapped the Moon with my DSLR.
 
 

February 24th 1800 GMT


The Sun had set a few minutes before and the Moon was riding high in the south and I bin scanned it at 8 days past full. The southern craters were gaining prominence, with Clavius straddling the terminator.
 
I also bin scanned for Venus low in the west but did not see it.

February 23rd 1700 GMT


The Moon was half full, so I took another set of shots with my DSLR.
 
 

Feb 22nd 1815 GMT


I took a few snaps of the Moon with my DSLR. I processed the best shot.
 
 


February 12th 1020 GMT


I bin scanned the Sun through moving thin cloud and saw that the sunspots from the day before had rotated. The Big Bear images showed some smaller sunspots in the same region that I did not pick up in my bins.
 
 

February 11th 0910 GMT

I bin scanned the Sun in a clear sky and saw two sunspots.



February 9th 0820 GMT


I tried to photograph the Sun from indoors, still not being 100% fit. It was too low and shining through trees but I thought it would make an interesting shot anyway.

 

A few minutes later, it had cleared the trees, so I carried out the planned shot. It didn't work, probably as it was indoors, so I did a drawing from visual observations.

 

February 9th 0750 GMT


The Moon was a waning crescent and I took some shots with my DSLR at 300mm focal length, ISO 100 and 1/1000 second exposure.
 
 

February 6th 1305 GMT

I bin scanned the Sun in a clear sky and saw a single, large sunspot.



February 4th 1040 GMT


I finally had some clear sky, so checked out the Sun from indoors with my PST, as I was still ill. I could see some granulation and tried to photograph afocally using my DSLR at 70mm and auto-exposure, with a lens hood. Initial indication were that I’d captured some parts of the solar disc. One shot caught part of the disc quite well but I could not extract any detail from the others. At least, there was something in the concept.
 
 


February 1st 0640 GMT


The Moon was low and bright in the west. I still had a cold, so I photographed it from the house with my DSLR.
 
Unfortunately, focussing a DSLR at 300mm on the Moon is a bit hit and miss and this time it was a miss.