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Blog 19648

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Full Moon - early hours of the 6th of October 2017

I was so keen to use my new 'fixing plate' - piggy-backing my little 66 mm. Altair Astro ED refractor, that I defied the clouds, a rain shower and finally extremely bright moon light.  First of all and to test the seeing I tried capturing some video clips of Neptune using my 127mm.Meade Apo Refractor and a x3 Televue Barlow.  An absolute disaster ! - Neptune was quite low over my neighbour's roof and the tiny image was 'bobbling' about on thermally active localised air currents.  Further more an

Hawksmoor

Hawksmoor

 

'How to use radio signals to catch meteors'

Having read this article in the June edition of the Sky at Night magazine I became unusually fired up by the thought of a bit of DIY. After some preliminary rumaging around in B&Q and Maplins, I set about constructing a Yagi aerial under the cover of my car port. Tension mounted as the July edition of Sky at Night, containing part 2 of 'How to use radio signals to catch meteors', landed on our door mat. Following tricky negotiations with my partner, the long suffering Anita, I ordered th

Hawksmoor

Hawksmoor

 

Io Mystery

Some time ago, I published an image of the shadow transits of Ganymede and Io I had taken on the 9th March 2014. The moon Ganymede was clearly visible but try as I might I could not find Io against the clouds of Jupiter. I used APS 'creatively' to try and convince myself that I had found it but eventually realised that if you clicked the sharpening tool enough times in any location on the cloud tops of Jupiter you could create a nice Io just about anywhere you wanted to! Anyway and eventually,

Hawksmoor

Hawksmoor

 

Mars

Last night was absolutely beautiful in Suffolk. There was a little high level cloud but otherwise it was quite perfect for backyard astronomy. I decided that I was going to take my first photos of Mars. I used the Logitech Webcam that I had previously cannabalised and took several AVI clips through my refractor using a 3x Barlow lens. I did not get any dark or flat frames which probably would have improved the results. I then processed the images using Registax, IRIS and Photoshop. Although the

Hawksmoor

Hawksmoor

 

Oh no it isnt - Oh yes it is - Aurora Borealis - well is it?

You could have knocked me down with a feather, when at 1.00 am. yesterday my partner said "why dont we go down to the seafront and see if we can spot the Aurora".  So off we went in the family truckster with tripod and camera box in the back.  We were originally going to set up base camp at the UK's most easterly point but the lights from the Birdseye factory were a problem. We ended up on Corton Cliffs with a fine view North towards  Great Yarmouth and the offshore wind turbines. Well after an

Hawksmoor

Hawksmoor

 

Corton Beach after Dark

Well last night, my partner's Aurora alarm app went off whilst we were having dinner - so pudding had to wait!  We loaded the tripod and camera bag into the family truckster and headed off to Corton Beach under cloudy but clearing skies.  Sadly, the street lights dont go out until midnight so Corton Beach, relatively close to our house, provides a dark site with a northerly view back over the cliffs largely missing the 'orange glow' that is Great Yarmouth. Whilst we were on the Beach the clouds

Hawksmoor

Hawksmoor

 

Summer Treats

Its a beautiful sunny day on the East Coast. Have been to the hospital to have an MOT on hip and back. Received great service and care from all staff at the James Paget Hospital. The NHS is great!:hello2: Having a bit of time on my hands and wanting a sit down, have spent an hour with an old photo of M57 which I took last summer in my backyard. Quite pleased with myself in that I have worked out how to use the de-convolution algorithms in IRIS software. (Probably less than pleased with myself

Hawksmoor

Hawksmoor

 

Les Granges

Toot and I had a wonderful week with Olly and Monique in the Haute Alpes. We enjoyed the magnificent dark skies, the stunning Milky Way, looking through Olly's big Dob and drawing and painting with Monique.   We saw for the first time: The Crab Nebula, The Swan Nebula, The Eagle Nebula and all of the Veil Nebula. The Witches Broom was fantastic and through a wideangle eyepiece and Olly's monster of a Dob it appeared almost 3D. We also looked at the Lagoon and Triffid Nebulae before they drop

Hawksmoor

Hawksmoor

 

'One of those'

After many a night of stretching pillow cases over the end of my telescope, no offence intended, I have finally got around to making myself a light-box for taking flats.  I can only hope this will improve my images. I gleaned most of the materials from the back of my shed, added a few LEDS and a switch from my best mate Mr Maplin and attached a bungee and batteries from everyone's favourite country 'Poundland'.  It doesn't look pretty but I cant wait to try it. Come on weather make an old m

Hawksmoor

Hawksmoor

 

Spectrometer Mark 2

After completing my current oil painting blitz, I spent some time today completing 'Spectrometer Mark2' in the 'clean room' or the kitchen as my wife likes to call it.  The primary reason for the redesign is my desire to use either my QHY5v or QHY5-11 as the imaging camera, without dedicating either camera to capturing spectra.  So a modular approach seemed sensible and the ability to experiment with different diffraction gratings was also an objective.  Mark1 was virtually built for 'nowt',  Ma

Hawksmoor

Hawksmoor

 

Lowestoft pier aka. George's column - nearing completion

The pier construction project for my 5 inch refractor is nearing completion. Today, I bolted the oak capping, the mild steel levelling plate and my NEQ6 Pro equatorial mount to the top of the reinforced concrete column.  All in all I think the project will have cost me about £120 for materials but I did have some of the stuff I needed already in my shed.  The weather, true to form, has suddenly turned grim - grey clouds horizon to horizon.  I guess this is my fault. Everything seems to have

Hawksmoor

Hawksmoor

 

"I must be getting old"!

Late on February 10th and in the early hours vof the 11th, I tried out my newly purchased QHY5-11 camera.  Whilst awaiting the appearance of Jupiter over the hedge, I had my first go at 'guiding' using ther QHY5-11 as a guide camera and my Canon DSLR as an imaging camera.  All went surprisingly smoothly. Orion was loitering in the south-east and although the light pollution was not good ,  I targetted  Alnitak and all the usuaL culprits.  I chose a guide star, locked on and started a series of 3

Hawksmoor

Hawksmoor

 

The Moon,Venus and the Pleiades

Beautiful night in Suffolk. Took quick photos with tripod mounted compact camera and then used Iris and Photoshop to create composite showing the Seven Sisters as well as our closer neighbours the Moon and Venus.

Hawksmoor

Hawksmoor

 

Noctilucent Clouds

Well I never got to photograph the Transit of Venus because of the awful weather which has continued almost unabated. However, after a day when we experienced a power outage because of a lightning strike, and torrential rain and hailstones, the clouds parted and by the time we went to bed and the street lights went out, the stars shone in astronomical twilight. Looking out our bedroom window, which faces north, Noctilucent Clouds were evident. Using my compact camera and leaning out the window,

Hawksmoor

Hawksmoor

 

My brain has finally given up!

Wasted a couple of hours this morning obtaining video clips of sunspots in white light through my scope. Finished taking the shots, all appeared well. Just got my kit put away before a rain shower. All accomplished before lunch, I thought. This afternoon, when I came to look for the files on my laptop, nowhere to be found! Must not have registered the files or some dumb trick best known to man and IT savants. I am a complete numpty!!!

Hawksmoor

Hawksmoor

 

Saturnalia

I look forward to Saturn coming to opposition each year or each 378 days to be precise. The sky over our backyard in the early hours of the 24th of May was clear and the stars shone bright. In the east, the stars of Cygnus and Lyra were shining brightly and Saturn was a brightish yellow presence due south over my neighbour's house rooftops. Through the eyepiece its rings shone bright, the Seeliger effect making a clear difference. Sadly, my imaging and images were affected by the planet's low

Hawksmoor

Hawksmoor

 

Lovely Night

My eight year-old grandson came to stop with us for the weekend. We picked him up after school in Southend so after a two hour journey to our house we were all tired. The mist cleared by the time we reached Lowestoft and he asked about the bright star in the sky. I said it was the planet Jupiter and he was interested to see it through my scope. Showed him Jupiter, the Pleiades and the Moon through my refractor. He thought it was all great! Astronomy in your backyard doesn't get better than this.

Hawksmoor

Hawksmoor

 

Excitement mounts

It's a very miserable afternoon in Lowestoft. It is raining and the sky is an unrelieved expanse of grey stretching from horizon to horizon. Early this morning the sky was clearer but not sufficiently devoid of cloud to permit the useful deployment of my 'scope. Due mainly to my overwhelming cheerfulness, I spent a happy pre-dawn hour with my 11x80mm binoculars looking at all the usual summer astro-culprits . This afternoon I have been removing malware with mixed success from two laptops. Why

Hawksmoor

Hawksmoor

 

Right up Mount Teide

I decided to try the month's free access to the Bradford Robotic Telescope on Mount Teide, Teneriffe. So thanks 'Sky at Night' Magazine! The free trial is limited to a number of given objects and the exposures and filters are all preset, so you cannot go wrong, but all in all I was quite pleased. I am considering investing the less than prohibitive £3 a month inorder to try out the real thing. Seems to me a very inexpensive way of accessing objects near or below my southern horizon with bette

Hawksmoor

Hawksmoor

 

Grrrrrrrrrr !

If it looks like a clear night, is cloud free like a clear night and you can see stars like on a clear night............ It probably isn't a clear night because there's just enough fog, mist or other agent of atmospheric mischief sufficient to prevent me obtaining a sharp avi-clip of Mars. It's 12.20am, the Council has been kind enough to extinguish the street lights, Mars is approaching opposition and I might as well go to bed!!!! I'm not adding an 'entry image' because I haven't got one. Grrr

Hawksmoor

Hawksmoor

 

Starthrotch Analyser Mk1

When I was a ten year old kid I used my pocket money to buy job lots of old broken clocks from Maidstone Market.  I would take them home and spend hours in my Mum and Dad’s cellar taking them apart ostensibly to get them working again. They never did but hey I never let failure deter me. Nowadays, being happily retired (and no gloating intended), I have many an hour to while away in my shed.  Nothing that I can get away with, gives me greater pleasure than recycling old bits of metal, plast

Hawksmoor

Hawksmoor

 

Lowestoft Pier

Well I've made a start on constructing my permanent backyard telescope pier by drilling the 6mm. mild steel laser cut 200mm. dia. disc to take the three levelling threaded studs and the 12mm. bolt for fixing my pillar extension tube to the plate.  My investment in new drill bits and cutting oil turned out well, particularly as I have no pillar drill and had to accomplish the task using my trusty handheld Black and Decker.  I am trying to minimise the costs involved by using as many bits and

Hawksmoor

Hawksmoor

 

Aurora Reykjavik October 2017

Just got back from Iceland having enjoyed a few days sploshing about in the geothermal waters, looking at waterfalls and geysers and eating lots of cod. As you can imagine, we were very excited at the prospect of seeing the Aurora Borealis.  Unsurprisingly, nights went by under a dense blanket of cloud. Then, on the morning of the last full day of our holiday, the sun came out and so did we.  After a full 10 hours traipsing about a glacier and investigating basalt columns on a black beach we ret

Hawksmoor

Hawksmoor

 

I've gone a bit technical

Well normally I'm a bit of a " give it a go" or "I wonder what happens if I push this button" sort of bloke. Anyway for whatever reason I purchased a couple of ledger type books from Poundland and started two observational logs. One log for visual observations and one for the LVST (the Lowestoft Very Small radio Telescope). So last night, I used the moon to calibrate the focus points for my camera - telescope -barlow lens combinations and wrote it all down in my log book. Train spotting next

Hawksmoor

Hawksmoor

 

Man Flu

Have been coughing and sneezing my way through February. When you add "am I feeling up to setting up my scope" to "are there clouds" to "is there too much moonlight" ?? Its all too easy to leave the scope in its box and rack up in front of the fire. Anyway, the 21st February presented a fine clear night and I enjoyed imaging the ‘king of planets’.

Hawksmoor

Hawksmoor

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