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Status Updates posted by Hawksmoor

  1. Just took a quick handheld snap from the bedroom window. The extra elevation enabled my first views of Saturn and Jupiter this year, low over my neighbours' roofs. Oh for a clear view of the southern horizon!

    George now tucked up in bed.

  2. Watched the ISS  go over Lowestoft followed by the much fainter Crew Dragon capsule. Could just see the latter and might have got a handheld image or two whilst hanging out the bedroom window.

    Last night I set up my big refractor and captured some video clips of the Moon at first quarter (at f=2250mm and f=2700mm). Some time consuming processing awaits!

    Lovely clear night this evening after a really beautiful sunny day. Nighty night stargazers.

    George still socially isolated on the East Coast.

  3. Been a 'good' old boy and managed to get my very old QHY5v to talk to an old copy of PHD2 in order that I might use it for guiding. This frees my QHY5L-11 colour planetary camera, which I had been using for guiding, for other uses. Been a 'bad' old boy this week and purchased a QHY5L-11 mono camera for spectral application in combination with a 'homemade' transmission grating Mark 3.  It is my understanding that an under £200 purchase in lock-down is acceptable behaviour for the 'older retired gentleman' in 'not upsetting long-suffering life partner' mode.😉

    This new camera - Peak QE 74% and pixel size 3.75 um- might also be used  in combination with it's colour variant to take some images of brighter DSOs - probably worth a try out on M27 and M57 later in the summer, as long as it doesn't get too hot. (not much chance of that on the UK's desirable East Coast!)

    Very excited awaiting a package from Modern Astronomy. Come on Bernie!

  4. I dont know!

    I decide to get my 5inch refractor out and on its pier, first time in a while. Lovely sunny day here on the coast. Beautiful blue sky, as you can see on the photograph from this pm. Within literally minutes the sky turned as black as thunder and has remained that way. 'Metcheck clear sky' completely ignored by the weather. This hobby is not for the faint hearted. You can probably work that out for yourself if you noticed my 'tidy' wiring festooned over the scope and its locale. Don't do this at home kids!

    Walk on the wild side 010small.png

    1. orion25


      I am well and hope you are too, my friend.  Been having some really nice skies my way with less pollution and aircraft (but still those bothersome geo satellites). I can't wait to see your images. I've taken several widefield shots of the waxing crescent and Venus. Did you see Venus cross the Pleiades earlier this month? I got some cool pictures of that.


      Clear skies,

      Reggie :)

    2. Hawksmoor


      Glad you are keeping well. I did see your sequence of images of Venus crossing the Pleiades. I thought they were a very good set. I missed the event as weather was poor here. My last good weather window was either the 28th or 29th and just before the Venus Pleiades conjunction. I saw Elon's Starlink Satellites for the first time on that night. It was quite spectacular as they crossed the sky on either side of the ISS.

      I've also noted the reduction in planes and improvement in air quality. I also observed that the signal to noise ratings on PHD whilst I was 'guiding' the other night were really good. I guess that is a measure of good seeing and improved air quality.

      I've been processing the images today but not quite finished them. Tomorrow I'm providing support for my grand children on 'lock down' in three separate towns around the UK. I'm hosting an internet 'art class' for them. My partner did a 'cooking class' for them today.

      Hopefully, I will get some time to finish my image processing tomorrow and get them 'posted'.

      Best regards and stay safe.


    3. orion25


      I'll be waiting with bated breath, lol!

    4. Show next comments  3 more
  5. 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

  6. Two nights in a row out under the stars. No cloud at all tonight so excellent! Managed to see Comet 2019 Y4 (ATLAS) through my big bins and now hopefully imaging it with my widefield mini- rig. Self isolating in a big way as the rest of  Lowestoft's residents appear to be asleep in bed. Don't remember ever seeing Coma Berenices quite so bright with the naked eye and spectacular through my bins. What a great night for stargazers. 

    1. orion25


      Nice report! 

      Cheers! :) 

    2. pipnina


      I have to agree! A wonderful set of nights perfectly coinciding with me being home from work.

      Hope to get some good use from my kit. Pleiades was clear as anything when I was outside just now. A lot of the cluster of stars surrounding Aldeberan were visible too despite the light pollution being heavier in that direction.

  7. Nice evening but too much moonlight. As I don't have narrow band filters taking astro 'snaps' other than of the Moon was not on, so I decided to capture low res spectra for Capella, Aldebaran, Regulus and Arcturus. Lots of fun and only out for an hour so didn't get cold. Struggling a bit to get my head around using VSpec to adjust spectrum profiles to take camera response into account. I guess I need to keep reading the online manual, lessons and avi clips.

  8. Could not increase the signal to noise ratio significantly using my redundant QHY5v planetary camera as a spectrometer so decided to use it as a guide camera freeing up my QHY-11c for acquiring very low res spectra and blurry images of planets. Some fiddling about later managed to obtain a spectrum for Sirius. Best thing being, I managed this without venturing out into the cold. South facing living room, open the patio door, point tripod mounted Altair Astro 66mm Doublet with Spectrometer Mark 3 attached and job done. Quite a lot more fiddling required to get grating and imaging chip better aligned but in principle it appears to work. Also used a new black and white laser printer to print an objective grating on acetate sheet for my 5 inch refractor. Thought it would be interesting to compare spectra produced using converging and non-converging arrangements on the same scope. 

    Now off to bed so night-night stargazers.

  9. Wind and rain! Rain and wind!

    So rather than "pining for the fjords", I thought to try a bit of astro 'DIY' light. Managed to fit an old Orion EZ red dot finder onto my Altair astro 66mm Lightwave refractor. 

    Also decided to reuse my redundant QHY5v planetary camera for obtaining low res spectra. Managed to complete a few basic calculations and mount a transmission grating at an appropriate distance from the imaging chip. Then set about getting my laptop to communicate with the old camera. Went to QHY site and downloaded the most recent driver for the QHY5v.

    Downloaded a more recent version of Sharpcap which seems to work with the QHY5v using ASCOM. Need to work on settings as first captures were hyper noisy. Not really sure what I am doing but I've never let this stop me in the past. "Ever backwards and downwards"!

    George now tucked up and pleasantly cosy in my sleeping chariot.

  10. Just watched the first episode of StarTrek Picard. Nice!

    Not only do we share the same values but he has proved conclusively that I'm not too old to go into space. "Boldly going-----" and all that malarkey. Good on you Jean Luc!

    1. orion25


      You're never too old to go into space. After all, that's where we came from!


      Reggie ;) 

  11. Good heavens! another night that appears to be clear. Hope it stays that way, Already out playing with my mate Orion.

    George outside in the dark wearing a woolly hat In Lowestoft

    1. orion25


      Enjoy it for all its worth, George! :D 

      Don't forget to to see Venus and Neptune less than a degree apart on Sunday and especially Monday evening.




    2. Hawksmoor


      Hi Reggie. Nice to hear from you. I have been taking full advantage of the unusually clear skies over Lowestoft this weekend. Venus has been a spectacular beacon in the early evening and Orion strides over my south facing backyard for most of the night until I lose it behind a roof at about 2:00am. Have been working on a couple of widefield images of Orion for a day or so which I hope to post soon.

      Had a great day out with friends today in rural Norfolk. Had an excellent lunch at a posh pub. Most unusually it had original art works by Tracey Emin, Damion Hearst and Lucien Freud on the walls. They also had a herd of about fifty red deer with very large antlers in the adjoining grounds. Didn't get home until about 21:00 so even though the stars were shining brightly over our house l decided to give stargazing a miss for one night.

      Hope you are well and enjoying the skies over Georgia.

      Best regards George

  12. Last night I managed to keep going until about 1:30am when the threatened clouds turned up along with a sudden squall of icy precipitation. Just finished sorting out my flats before I was forced to dash carrying my mobile rig into the kitchen to escape the sleet.Opp

    Been busy today so not much time available for data processing but the 3 hours of data captured seems to have yielded two hours of lights worth stacking. My widefield 'Orion Dagger' project appears to be going well!

    Using a x0.6 focal reducer and field flattener on my Altair Astro 66mm. Doublet refractor enables the Flame, Horeshead, Running Man and OMC nebulae to fit on the chip of my Canon 600d DSLR.

    Quite excited and looking forward to the  next stage.

    Weather tonight very poor with no stars visible.

  13. After sorting out my shed I decided to treat myself to a bit of 'mini rig astro imaging' of Orion before the clear sky 'clouds up'.  Trouble is before the street lights go out at 11:30pm light pollution in Lowestoft is a big problem. No prizes for guessing what time the cloud is predicted to roll in overhead?

  14. Went out for a meal at 'the Crown' In Southwold - Very clear night and even with street lighting on could clearly see the winter Milky Way stretching from horizon to horizon. The stars between Auriga, Taurus and Orion were spectacular! According to Metcheck,  Lowestoft weather is set fair for 'Sunday Night and Monday Morning' so may try some widefield  imaging in this area.

    Night all.

  15. 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!

  16. Orion splendid over our backyard!

  17. 70 years old today and I remain unsure as to what I want to be when I grow up.

    1. orion25


      Congratulations on the big 7-0! A piece of advice - NEVER GROW UP

    2. Rob Sellent

      Rob Sellent

      Happy Birthday and I hope you had a good one :smiley:

      Like the question 'what do you do?' the other 'what do you want to be?' has always bemused me. They're lifeless questions rooting for lifeless answers.

    3. markse68


      Happy Birthday! What’s this growing up thing about then 🤔😂

  18. Funny sort of night here on the east coast. Too much moonlight, too much cloud, fireworks and then rain. In between I captured a few widefield snaps of ngc7000. Unfortunately my dslr, intervalometer and staradventurer mount were rained upon when a sudden 'squall' took me by surprise and terminated my imaging session. Have dried everything and all appears well with my kit. An Intervaluometer can get the unwary astronomer into 'cold' water!

    Night night stargazers hope your evening went better.

  19. Tonight the sky is clear and velvet black here on the East Coast. Haven't set up the gear tonight as I have a long car journey tomorrow and I need some sleep. 

    Just went outside and looked up. Pegasus and M31 visible to the naked eye and almost straight overhead. The Milky Way stretched clear across the sky and disappeared with Cygnus to the west. 

    As I turned to look towards the Pleiades, a really bright and red coloured Orionid meteor flamed across the sky below the square of Pegasus. What a beautiful and wonderful thing to witness on a cool autumnal night!

    Nighty night stargazers

  20. Today, I completed my last 'dew zapper' and fitted it to my 127mm. Meade 500. I'm awaiting some bell wire and a 1 amp-9 volt transformer from the 'bay'. When all connected up I shall be ready for 'astro fun and games' throughout a cold and moist winter on the East Coast. 

    I currently have a few stars outside but Metcheck doesn't look encouraging. Think I will stick with binoculars tonight.

    Night all


    127mm Dew Zapper.png

  21. '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

  22. Today, the electrical resistors, essential components for constructing 'dew zappers', arrived by post from China. Excellent, now where did I put my soldering iron?

  23. Spent all day in the loft installing a bathroom extraction fan plus ducting. Now I know how Quasimodo felt. Nice gibbous Moon waxing quietly outside but I'm in bed.

    Night night Stargazers.

  24. 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


  25. Stood in my backyard in Lowestoft and showed the Milky Way and the Andromeda Galaxy to my granddaughter Maisy. Then did a trip around the night sky pointing out the constellations and asterisms. She was really pleased and interested. Living on a main road near the seafront in Southend with so much light pollution has meant that much of the night sky has been lost to her. Realised how lucky I was to live in relatively dark Suffolk.

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