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Status Updates posted by Hawksmoor

  1.   Beautiful Mars and waning gibbous Moon conjunction. Took a few images with my Canon DSLR at f=300mm. Interesting how the naked eye and brain can better accommodate the difference in brightness between the Moon and Mars than can the camera. To my eyes Mars shone like a pink jewel whilst the Mare on the Moon were in dark contrast to the southern highlands. My camera, set to show lunar detail, rendered Mars a very dull and tiny disc. Looks like a job tomorrow for 'photo editing software'!

    Now in bed in Lowestoft. Nighty night stargazers.

  2.  Just got back from a holiday in Brittany. Enjoyed some nice although small views of Mars and Saturn through my Altair Astro 66mm. Refractor.  Viewing these planets this year from a lower latitude really helps. If the weather is kind this week, I will try to image them from my backyard through my larger scope. Hopefully both will appear sometime through the night between the roofs of my neighbours' houses. Such fun!


    1. RichM63


      Glad you had some decent views.


  3.  What does a meteorologist mean by partly cloudy and how does it differ from mainly clear ? I really enjoy my astronomy but some times I do believe I'm bonkers. I've spent an hour setting up my scope in hope that partly cloudy means there are gaps between clouds and that when and if it moves on to mainly clear the gaps will be bigger and last for longer. Currently in Lowestoft partly cloudy means I can just about see Vega, Deneb and Altair.  I'm sitting in my backyard writing this on my laptop by red torch light -I'm holding the torch in my mouth and starting to dribble. All this grief because I fancied imaging asteroid Florence as it goes whizzing by, a 3 mile wide rock 7 million kilometres distant. As my mate Big Phil from Sheffield would say "Why do you want to take hundreds of photographs with really expensive equipment that mainly comprise white dots on a black background" He has got a point!:happy7:

    Do you know what, I think it is clearing a bit so 3 star alignment here I come.

    George trying to take pictures in Lowestoft

    1. ronin


      This is something I have asked a few times. It is obviously different to our idea of clear. Occasionally I have had "Clear" but a heavy fog. As fog is a local event it is not covered by the weather forcast usually. So Clear and you cannot see the other side of the road.

      I suspect a trip to Exeter and the main Met Office might help but equally I suspect that it is almost arbituary and could depend on who wrote up the forecast.

      In worst case Clear could be not raining and good horizontal visual clarity.

      Big George has a point.

    2. Hawksmoor


      Thanks for the comment. The weather did improve sufficiently for me to get a few images of NEO Florence in between the clouds. By heck that lump of rock is moving at a pace. Couldn't find it in my big bins but go-to technology and my 127mm. Refractor did the trick.  I think the moon light was a bit of an issue. Tonight much clearer but moon very bright and setting later. Have to say after last night falling into bed at 3:15 am and someone's car alarm going off at four, two late nights in a row are not an option.  Tomorrow I will have a go at putting together an asteroid animation.

      Best regards from George by the sea and now in bed.

  4. 'rah'! -  finally, I was able to spot Comet W2 AFRICANO sailing through Andromeda. Managed to get a few widefield images of it but sadly through high level cloud and brightening moonlight that rather spoilt an otherwise good night with my little 66mm Altair Astro Lightwave scope.  Will have a go tomorrow at processing what I gathered tonight. Weather forecast for Lowestoft over the next couple of days is quite poor so I need to make the best of my blurry images as I'm unlikely to capture anymore anytime soon.

    Nighty-night Stargazers

  5. Pulling an all nighter as the clouds that were supposed to disappear at midnight have inconveniently not consulted a meteorologist. I've given up trying to obtain 4min subs at ISO800 in favour of 2min subs at ISO1600 whilst cloud dodgin' without a 'G'. Why is it that 'mainly clear' isnt and that mainly it isnt clear in front of the thing you're trying to photograph?  It is also mind numbingly cold in our Backyard - my nose has started to run and my clumsy rating has started to climb exponentially.

    Nighty night stargazers wherever you are.

    George not asleep in Lowestoft

  6. Lowestoft Pier Construction (aka George's Column): First concrete pour accomplished and all covered up prior to the arrival of rain. Hopefully,tomorrow will be fine and I will be able to complete the concrete work with the second pour. Gave the steel levelling plate a coat of Hammerite - literally watching paint dry. Too jiggered to do more work on Spectrometer 3 Project - having a sit down before dinner.

    George 'tired but happy' in an overcast and rainy Lowestoft

    1. JimT


      Well done George, good to hear you are getting somewhere.  Have restarted my observatory rebuild in what I can only say is a wreck of a garden, clearing it all up and laying the floor of the observatory a bit at a time.











    2. Hawksmoor


      Best of luck with your observatory floor.  Hope the weather stays fine for your construction works.  I was lucky with the weather today and managed to complete the concreting by about 5.00pm.  Its staying light to quite late now, spring has arrived.  Jupiter is looking good if a bit low in the sky.


  7. A pretty thing:

    Turned my bins towards the terminator on the waxing gibbous Moon tonight and watched sunlight kiss the peaks of the Jura Mountains behind the Bay of Rainbows still cloaked in the darkness of lunar night. 

    Craters Tycho and Copernicus were very bright and clearly defined. The rays of projects from Tycho were very obvious. The dark lava of Plato stood out as a tiny oval against the lighter uplands.

    Nighty night stargazers.

    George in bed in Lowestoft

    1. orion25


      Nice report, George. Did you see the close encounter of the first quarter moon and Aldebaran on Wednesday night? I always look out for those occultations; I've imaged a few. Right now, I'm dealing with cloud, for about a week according to the forecast, UGGGGH!?

    2. Hawksmoor


      Hi Reggie

      Unfortunately, I missed close encounters of the Aldebaran kind. Sad to hear you have had an extended period of cloud. Hope things improve soon, forecasts aren't always right!

      Weather in Lowestoft still good but Moon so bright everything else very washed out. Spent 30 minutes looking at the Moon through my big bins. Tonight Gassendi was on display. Very interesting effect - the rims of the craters from Gassendi to the terminator and south  along the terminator were illuminated and looked like two bright straight lines at right angles.

      The other very visible feature on display was the elongated crater Schiller looking like a dark scar in the brilliant white southern moonscape.

      I love looking at the Moon through bins over a run of consecutive nights.  (Weather permitting)!

      The changes occasioned by variation in the angle of incident sunlight are quite fascinating.

      I quite like the low magnification of bins (11x), as you can see the whole Moon on display at a glance but have to really focus and concentrate to pick out the detail.

      Now off to bed

      Best regards George

  8. A very cold and frosty night on the east coast. The moon just passed full, complete with atmospheric halo, is being followed closely by a very bright Jupiter. I'm off to my warm bed, too cold and bright for scopes and cameras!


  9. A very Merry and Starry Christmas to you all!

    Best regards from George and Anita in Lowestoft next the Sea.

    Xmas2019 019small.png

    1. orion25


      Same to you, George!

  10. After a grey and cloudy day the sky cleared for a quick look at the Moon. The crater Aristarchus was well clear of the terminator and shining brilliant white against the darker mare lava.

    Nighty night stargazers

    George the old man by the sea.

  11. After an extended period of being 'uncle dick', during which I totally forgot that I had registered my interest in taking part , I finally got around to starting the OU-Moons free distance learning package that had been lurking in my Yahoo inbox.  Had an enjoyable day catching up the first week of studies. Week two - tomorrow, if all goes to plan.  Here in Lowestoft it looks set cloudy for awhile.?

    1. orion25


      Have fun until the sky clears, George :) 



  12. After another day in isolation we decided to go for a walk at about 21:00 BST.  After a morning on which we had a short snow shower and lots of cloud, we were surprised to see some stars. The crescent Moon, Venus, Hyades and Pleiades conjunction was  a real visual treat. Quite unexpectedly, the Space Station went over accompanied by a retinue of Elon Musk's Stsrlink Satellites. By heck there were a lot of them and quite bright!

    When we got home I grabbed a camera and tried to get a handheld image of the conjunction before the clouds rolled in. I hope to post something tomorrow.

    Quite excited as we have made our first batch of yoghurt today and will be trying it in the morning for breakfast. We could have made one small step towards dairy self sufficiency or a biological weapon of mass destruction. Only time will tell!

    Now in bed awaiting sleep in Lowestoft

  13. All Christmas decorations taken down and put away but still no stars in Lowestoft.?

    1. Show previous comments  1 more
    2. Hawksmoor


      Yes that Lowestoft and it still has Pleasurewood Hills open during the warmer months. High winds and tide today so currently enjoying a bit of local flooding. Our house on high land so not affected. A few stars visible tonight so better weather on the way? Fingers crossed.

      George awaiting sleep in bed in Lowestoft.

    3. SacRiker


      I used to visit Pleasurewood Hills every summer when I lived in England. Loved it. Sorry to hear the weather is rough! I live in California now and we are having a lot of rain! Shock!

    4. Hawksmoor


      In the words of 'Woody Bear' " Pleasurewood Hills is your biggest day out ever"! However, even in the rain, California probably offers a much bigger day out. Glad you enjoyed your visits to Lowestoft in the past. Only been to LA in California once long ago, had an excellent weekend on route to Auckland NZ. As a 'fossil nerd', La Brea Tar pits a highlight for me. Sea lions and pelicans in the harbour pretty special too.

      Best regards George

  14. All sorts of weather in Lowestoft today. Did get to eat lunch in the backyard, which was nice, and the evening cloud, that rolled in after dark, finally cleared to reveal a gibbous waning moon. I love the moon in this phase as it looks positively 3d to the naked eye and a bit backcloth scenery Startrek 1960s.

    I believe I'm losing the plot. When I went out to lock up my shed/mission control, at about 23:30, I noticed an almost vertical shaft of light poking up above my hedge. I started to get all 'old man' angry about it. Had another one of my neighbours fitted laser bright security lights or had a local 'entrepreneur' installed the club standard searchlight?  Then I realised it was only moonlight reflected from a passing jet plane's diffusing contrail.

    Best drink my cocoa and take myself off to bed. -  "Ah bless! "- As they say in Suffolk.




  15. Another lovely autumnal night here on the east coast. Took a few snaps of the constellations Cassiopeia and Perseus with a tripod mounted DSLR. Quick spin around the sky with my binoculars and so to bed.

    Reckon I could see Comet W2 ARICANO with my big bins close to Gamma Persei but could be my old chum ' wishful thinking' kicking in.

    Night all


  16. Anyway it didn't rain so I caught some photons arriving from the general direction of Gemini.  High level cloud kept coming and going and as I was feeling tired and old I didn't await the street lights being extinguished at midnight - so I captured plenty of atmospheric sodium into the bargain. Must save up for a light pollution clip filter for the Canon.

    Did take some nicely composed widefield frames of the Hyades and Pleiades. Finished the evening in the backyard by snapping some shots of everyone's best mate Orion.

    Now nicely warm tucked up in bed. Back to decorating tomorrow. Hopefully will get to stack and play about with tonight's images tomorrow night.

     Nighty8 night Stargazers.:happy7:

  17. As my partner's aurora alarm went off, so did we to the dark delights of Corton beach car park. Looking north we thought we could see something other than the Orange glow of Great Yarmouth 10 miles to our North. So I took a few 20 second images at F3.5 and ISO1600. I then realised how dark the site was and decided to take a few images of the Milky Way running through Cassiopeia and Perseus. Andromeda was naked eye bright as was the Double Cluster. The Seven Sisters had just appeared out of the North Sea horizon. Quite a lot of people lurking about in the dark on and around Corton Car park and I'm pretty sure few of them were Stargazers. Hey - ho it takes all sorts. :happy6:

    George now in bed after an hour or two of image processing. Will post the results tomorrow in blog format. Nighty night stargazers wherever you are.

  18. As the clouds are back over Lowestoft, I decided to give Perseids hunting a night off. Some weeks ago someone on SGL had recommended the webcams on www.Shetland.org 60 degrees north for the aurora and birdwatching. Over the light nights of June and July, I got hooked watching the Puffins. Well it suddenly struck me that if it was clear over Lerwick, meteors might be visible via webcam. I have been laying in bed watching Cliffcam One and Auriga and the kids are clearly visible above the horizon, so Cliffcam One has an eastern view. What's more I've seen two meteors and all without leaving my bed. What I call a cloudy night result.


  19. Back to cloud and rain again but I did get to see the comet in the early hours yesterday. Tired but happy in Lowestoft.

    Night all!

  20. Batteries charged, mount polar aligned,white light solar filters made and fitted and laptop clock synchronised with atomic clock. Come on Mercury!  I'm up for it and prepared.


    1. Knighty2112


      The countdown has begun!





      1......... :) 

    2. David Smith

      David Smith

      Good luck! Looks like it will be clouded out here.

    3. Hawksmoor


      Thanks for the good wishes. Got to see it through the eyepiece and take some images, sadly the hazy high level cloud got me in the end, but my partner brought me out a big gin and tonic which cheered me up!  Not use to catching a tan pursuing this hobby!

  21. Beautiful night but sadly not really dark.  Did go out for a couple of hours with my big bins and my 66mm. ED. Altair Doublet Refractor mounted on a photographic tripod. Had some very nice widefield views of Saturn through the Altair scope with a Teleview 2.5x Barlow and Panoptic lens combo. Nice to get a quick look at Antares between roofs but the sting too low for me to see.  Same eyepiece - Barlow arrangement provided quite a splendid view of M16  'The Eagle Nebula'. Have to say the little Altair scope is excellent value for money and with a field flattener performs very well photographically as a DSLR camera telescopic lens at a fraction of the cost of a comparable Canon lens.

    All in all a nice way to wile away an hour or two on a warm summer's night. Pound for pound I still rate eyeballing Saturn in real time as one of the best astro-treats on offer.

    Night night all you stargazers wherever you are.

    George about to nod off in a balmy Oulton Broad.

  22. Beautiful night for astronomy in Lowestoft tonight. Used my Altair Astro 66mm. Doublet refractor on  my Star Adventurer mount to take widefield images of Comet 41P Tuttle-Giacobini-Kresak in Ursa Major.  Try as I might I wasn't convinced that I could see it through my 11x80mm binoculars but my Canon 600d DSLR captured it easily at ISO 1600 and 30sec exposure. Rather a nice little green comet! :icon_biggrin: Grandchildren coming tomorrow for the weekend, two very nice little girls :hello2: :happy7: , so image processing will take a very poor second place until at least Monday.

    Night night stargazers where ever you are.




  23. Beautiful night in Lowestoft. Have been in Norwich all day and returned home too late and tired to get out scopes. Instead enjoyed fortyfive minutes in the backyard with my big bins. Best 250 pounds I've ever spent on astro kit. 

    The double cluster was spectacular - straight overhead - filled the FOV with jewel like points of light arranged in curved strings. All of the 'M's in Auriga and Gemini were easily visible with hints of individual stars in M35. Pleiades were the best I've seen through my bins - stars visible well beyond the normal cluster of brighter stars - the cluster looking triangular and extending beyond the FOV of my bins. 

    First sighting of Sirius above my hedge this year - always startled by its brightness through my bins. Orion's Sword absolutely cracking view with nebulosity observable well beyond the central bright area of the Trapezium.

    Finished by locating the Comet 2017 01(ASASSN) just above Polaris. Always a treat to see a comet through my bins. Must try to get a photograph before it fades away.


    1. JimT


      Nice one George, had a good four hours last night, dragged myself in gone 0130, starting to get to grips with the gear at last  :).


  24. Beautiful night sky over Lowestoft tonight. Spent 45 minutes with my big bins in the backyard looking for comet 2018 W2 (AFRICANO) in and around Camelopardalis. Think I spotted it with averted vision above and to the right of Kemble's Cascade (towards the Double Cluster). If so very faint but quite large (in my 11x80 bins bigger than M13). Does this sound about right or is this the wishful thinking  of a stargazer who has been too long without a comet to observe?

    George now in bed in Lowestoft.

    1. Hawksmoor


      Last night was another clear night, so I  spent it trying to image said comet using my Altair 66mm scope with x0.6 focal reducer. All with no success and much dewing up of lenses. All got a bit silly in the end when I decided to use my partner's microwaveable'Fox' bed warmer to keep the dew at bay. A stuffed Fox fixed with a rubber band to your refractor tube does not give your rig a 'high-Tec' look! Jolly good job I don't take myself too seriously!

      Night night stargazers.

  25. Beautiful night tonight. Been out in the garden with my bins. Summer Milky Way is now well above my hedge to the East. Summer Triangle nicely displayed. Hercules is directly above our backyard. There seems to be many more satellites in the sky. I thought I would test this by laying my DSLR on its back on the patio table and taking a series of 10x10 sec exposures at ISO3200 and f=18mm. I was amazed and rather dismayed by how many were picked up by my camera in such a short time. I also believe that I'm recording radar reflections from increased numbers of satellites with my sdr.

    George saying goodnight to all stargazers from Lowestoft

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