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Status Updates posted by Hawksmoor

  1. I put up a small gazebo for a socially distanced meal with my daughter and grandchildren. Instantly, the rain became torrential and the wind speed increased to + 50 mph. Erecting a gazebo appears to have a more dramatic impact upon the weather than purchasing a new telescope! Who would have guessed?

    George holding on tight to a lifting gazebo in Lowestoft. A bit like the film 'Up' but damper.

  2. I should moan about the weather more often. Been terrible all day but just now I've been treated to the most transparent and steady summer sky I've ever experienced over our back yard in July. I could see M31 with the naked eye even though it was still quite low in the east. Similarly I could see M33 through my big bins but hand held. Vega, Altair and Deneb were so bright that the summer triangle looked 3d. I'm pretty sure that bins and averted vision allowed me to spot the tiny blur of M57 in Lyra. Could also see M71 in Sagittarius and M27 in Vulpecula. Along the way I picked up nice views of the big two globular clusters in Hercules, the Coathanger and the double cluster in Perseus.

    In my bins I could follow the Milky Way right down to the rooftops on our southern boundary. Generally interesting fuzziness in this area of the sky just disappears into the murk and light pollution but not tonight, I could easily pick out all the Messiers  down through Scutum  and Ophiuchus until the roof tops met Sagittarius.

    Finished off a rewarding 35 minutes with a nice meteor and several bright satellites.

    No telescope action and no photography but what a great, if breathtakingly short, night of old fashioned stargazing.

    Hope you all enjoyed some clear skies where ever you are.

    Night night from George happy in bed Lowestoft.

    1. Littleguy80


      I saw a cracking meteor in the region of Aquarius last night. Briefly thought it was a firework as it was so bright 

  3. I was going to have a go at imaging Mercury from the churchyard with my small travel rig but the clouds rolled in at sunset. I also noted that the jet stream has positioned itself over the UK reminiscent of this time last year. Does it know that I'm almost ready to have my 127mm. Refractor back in operation on my new concrete pier?  I think it does - I hate you clouds and jet stream! :hmh:

    Grumpy George in bed Lowestoft

  4. If you are a fossil collector, one day you realise that once you know what you're looking for, that is how big they are - what colour they are - how shiny they are, you find lots more of them. Tonight I had a similar Eureka moment with the veil nebula. I've never been able to see it through my 11x80 binoculars before tonight.

    Having photographed the eastern veil for the first time a few nights ago, l had a feel for how big and how feint it was in the sky. So tonight when I turned my big bins towards Cygnus, there it was feint but with averted vision clear as day, a broken ring of nebulosity in the sky.

    I finished an hour's viewing catching glimpses between fast moving clouds of: the Ms in Auriga and Cassiopeia, the Andromeda Galaxy group, the Double Cluster, the Pleiades, Aldebaran and friends and what I took to be Neptune.

    Astronomy rocks!

  5. Interesting evening under starry skies in Redgrave, Suffolk. Sat next to a guy in the pub who played an officer on the Death Star in the first Star Wars film. Fell three feet into a sunken garden in the dark. Luckily the earth 's crust broke my fall. Survived to tell the tale and now back in bed in Lowestoft.

     George shaken but not stirred in Lowestoft

  6. Interesting fact I discovered yesterday - the Dadaist and Surrealist artist Max Ernst was a big fan of the German astronomer Wilhelm Tempel - comet discoverer extraordinaire.  Max produced a series of drawings and symbols which he labelled as 'illegal astronomies'. Bloke was absolutely barking, thought he had hatched from an egg laid by his mother. However, his artistic endeavours offer wonderful off world and alien landscapes. Creations no more strange than the false colour images we routinely capture. I also discovered that he  used state of the art 'wet photography' techniques to achieve his finished works. Sounds a bit familiar? What he might have achieved if Photoshop had been available will never be known!

    1. orion25


      Here is one of my astronomy-related music videos. I use these as educational tools as well as cool vehicles for my music:

      I incorporated some video from one of my piano performances at the local hall, some stock astronomy footage, studio shots, and some of own space cam footage and processed images of Mars. I hope you like it :) 


    2. Hawksmoor


      Hi Reggie

      Your video and sound track are excellent. You are a very talented man! Thank you for your kind words re my bits and pieces on my blogs.  Merry Christmas to you from a very cloudy Lowestoft.

    3. orion25


      Thanks, George. Merry Christmas to you and yours from balmy Macon, Georgia in the southeastern U.S. :) 

    4. Show next comments  9 more
  7. Ironically, tonight I watched the full moon rise serenely above the North Sea. Very beautiful but 24 hours too late.

    George eclipseless in Lowestoft.

  8. It wasn't supposed to be clear here tonight but as it turned out I managed a good hour and 15 minutes out under a starry sky. Very transparent at times although the moon in the west rendered everything lower than Altair in that part of the sky invisible.

    Managed to find Uranus and Neptune both appeared very 'blue' in my 11x80 binoculars. Another night I must try to image them with my big refractor. I have a better planetary camera now than when I last imaged the 'Ice Giants'.

    Using my little red torch and the October Edition of Sky at Night - Sky Guide chart, I set about finding some of the stellar highlights.  Globulars M15 and M2 were easy finds albeit quite small - I can usuaslly find these without a chart. Similarly I know where to find  M31 and M33 although M33 is not always easy to spot - tonight it was easy as was the large planetary nebula M27. I do like looking at M31 through my big bins it is so big, so far away and so mysterious. I had a fancy that I could just see M74, small and faint, through my bins but this could have been wishful thinking.

    I managed to view a number of beautiful open clusters - The Double Cluster, M103, M34, M52, M39 and NGC 752. M103 is jewel like through big bins and NGC was a new cluster for me - very large and a mixture of bright stars with a dusting of stars on the verge of resolution - very beautiful indeed!

    The best thing about Stargazing is you can always learn something new. Its a bit embarrassing but I realised tonight that I've been miss identifying the constellation Cepheus. Up until tonight what I thought was Gamma Cepheus turns out to have been Delta Draco. It helps to have a chart infront of you when stargazing. What a numpty!:happy6:

    Hope you have clear skies wherever you are - nighty night stargazers.

    George off to bed in Lowestoft.


  9. Its been a funny old day here in Suffolk. One moment sunny the next rain but hey am I depressed - not me- well just a little.  I was hoping to get my big scope out on the mount and stay up to see if Saturn cleared my neighbour's roof at the back of our yard but the weather forcast for tonight is more of the same. :hmh:  

    Any way,  I v'e had a good shed day.  Spectrometer Mark 3 continues apace.  Without the aid of a lathe Ive reduced the diameter of a round aluminium bar inorder that it will plug into my telescope's focuser.  Next step is to drill it to take the fibre optic cable that arrived through the post last week. I have no idea whether my latest design proposal  will work but thats half the fun of it!

    Good news is - BBC Weather Lowestoft says that tomorrow night it's going to be 'cloud free' Woo Hoo!:happy6:

    Just had my first ever 'Strawberry Daiquiri' cocktail - nice!

    George 'unlikely to be sober tonight' in Lowestoft

  10. Just about finished analysing my first batch of data from The LVST  sdr meteor catcher. Have been looking in detail at the Perseid Shower 2016. Now I know this is not cutting edge and that 3 years is a bit of a delay between receipt of signals and doing something with the data but I am a bit old and defocussed since giving up regular employment. Anyway I'm quite pleased with myself even if I've got the math wrong and jumped to the wrong conclusions in interpreting the data.  I will be publishing my findings on my LVST (Lowestoft Very Small Telscope) Google Site tomorrow. (subject to distractions too numerous to mention)

    George drowning in numbers in Lowestoft.

  11. Just back from a 14 day holiday in India. Had a great time. Levels of atmospheric pollution in and around Delhi and other cities visited made stargazing difficult! Many reasons not to moan about being located by the sea in Suffolk.

    George back home in Lowestoft.

  12. Just got in after witnessing a 3 hour long display of 'The Northern Lights' over Reykjavik New Harbour. Absolutely fantastic light show in green, magenta snd blue. I would recommend excited atoms for exciting old amateur astronomers. Now enjoying a glass of Bushmills to calm me down and then off to bed.

    Nighty night stargazers wherever you are.

    1. JimT


      Well done George, was there a few year ago and although we enjoyed it the display was ruined by a laser which lit up the sky all night right in the middle of the lights.  Think the laser was something to do with Yoko Ono and peace, certainly had something to say about and it had nothing to do with peace  :)


  13. Just opened my Sky at Night Magazine and noticed your fine image of Saturn is 'Photo of the Month'. Well done and well deserved - a beautiful and detailed image.

    best regards from  George

  14. Just poked my head outside and its raining. Looks like February which this year looked strangely like July. Weird!

    Night all.

  15. Just returned home after a day out in Wells next the Sea with friends, Moon followed us all the way home nearly full and quite beautiful peeking between diffuse 'rainbow' clouds.

    Night all :happy7:

    1. orion25


      Beautiful report. The full moon peeked out from behind rain clouds and played hide and seek for a bit before the clouds took over. We're in a rainy "dog days" pattern (ugh). I'm praying for clear skies for the upcoming eclipse here in the States.


    2. Hawksmoor


      Hi Reggie

      Hope the weather stays good for your eclipse. In 1999 my partner and I were in France for the solar total eclipse. We saw the diamond ring and totality rushing across the fields towards us. We heard the birds getting ready to roost. The temperature dropped. Then the clouds obscured the sun's disc and we never saw totality and the corona. We enjoyed the experience but we have always been saddened by missing those vital two minutes.

      Hope you fair better.  Let us know how you get on and post a photo of totality for us. From our location in the UK and if we are lucky we might get to see a tiny bite being taken out of the Sun just as it sets.

      Best regards from George in Lowestoft.:happy7:

  16. 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.

  17. Just watched 'The Martian' on DVD. Really enjoyable and not completely 'daft' scientifically. So I didn't start playing the banjo halfway through and consequently in partner's good books.  Now in bed, as outside it's still cloudy in downtown Lowestoft. All I need is my telescope and a star to sail it by!



  18. 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 ;) 

  19. Just watched the Ian Dury Biopic - excellent! Followed by learning the 'Sex and Drugs & Rock and Roll' riff and middle eight on my acoustic guitar in modal tuning. Feeling oddly 80s and punk for an OAP. Think I will give the 'hot chocolate' a miss tonight and live on the edge! ?

    1. Pete Presland

      Pete Presland

      Great band, musically and lyrically, some edgy lyrics/stories in their back catalogue. Almost "Chas n Dave" at times, then so reflective and then so caustic!

      Ian was a far cry from the dull, boring, plastic pop stars of today! "spasticus autisticus" the epitome of Ian Dury, DONT TELL ME WHAT TO DO! 

      One of my favs is "Poo Poo In The Prawn" lyrically brilliant! 

    2. Hawksmoor


      Thanks for your comment Pete. I hadn't heard "Poo Poo in the Prawn" So watched and listened on 'U Tube'- Excellent!  I love his use of 'rhyme and assonance' a phrase from which in his day, he would of undoubtedly extracted the liquid waste.  But any how -who couldn't fail to be made cheerful by ' the smile of a parrot' .

      Regards from a sunny Lowestoft by an unpolluted sea - courtesy of European Union Legislation.

  20. Last night did turn out to be splendid in Lowestoft. Got out my scopes out in the backyard. My recently home constructed spectrometer saw first light attached to my 127mm Refractor. It appeared to work OK and I managed to capture some video footage of Deneb,Vega and Altair and their respective first order spectra. So quite excited and a little daunted at the prospect of using Iris and Vspec software to analyse the data. Have previously read "Using Commercial Amateur Astronomical Spectrographs" by Jeffrey L Hopkins. Guess I need a reread pretty urgently!

    It was a great night and stayed out to 3.00am this morning. Took some widefield images of M57 using my 127 mm Refractor-0.8x focal reducer and field flattener and Canon 600 d Dslr all guided with my Qhy5-11 camera. (At ISO 400 and 800 - range of exposures 30 secs and 3 mins.) Also used my home made light box for flat frames for the first time with my big scope and that seems to have worked OK. The use of cheap 0.5mm white plasticard rather than the more expensive and heavier opal perspex for the light box screen-diffuser seems to have been at no obvious detriment to the flats. Tomorrow, after some compulsory gardening, I will complete my 'Ring Cycle'

    Sky tonight fully overcast, so off to bed!

  21. Last night I actually captured some photons from the old backyard. Up until 3am. waiting for Jupiter to clear my neighbours' roofs and our olive tree. Very noticeable how much smaller the GRS has become since I first viewed it through my old 90mm. ETX RA Mak some 17 years ago. Also I remember Jupiter riding high in the sky rather than grazing my southern horizon. Trouble with astronomy is that it often reminds you of the inexorable passage of time and your own brief relationship with the Cosmos.

    George awaiting the blissful sleep of the innocent in Lowestoft.:happy7:

  22. 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.

  23. Last night I put out the 127mm refractor to image M 87 at approx f=750 mm. Very cold, a tad windy , lots of low-level cloud and too much moonlight but otherwise just what the old amateur astronomer dreams of! At least I managed to get a snap. Used my homemade Batinov mask for the first time - worked effectively so well pleased. 

    George now in bed - Nighty night all.

  24. Last night was a beautiful night in Lowestoft. I didn't crack out any of my imaging rigs as some of my children and grandchildren are staying with us this weekend. Did however, watch the ISS sail across the sky in its own majestic way. It always cheers me up. However much the news is full of grim stuff about our species, it remains such an inpiring symbol of what Homo Sapiens can achieve when we cooperate,  collaborate and celebrate our intelligence rather than our prejudices.

    After midnight, I also 'snuck in' an hour observing with the naked eye and my big Bins. The Milky Way was truly magnificent stretching from almost horizon to horizon.  I also believe that with averted vision I could just make out the misty patch that is the Andromeda Galaxy. If I did, its the first time with the naked eye from our backyard. The sky was pretty transparent as I could see quite a lot of stars within the square of Pegasus.

    I finished the night in my shed monitoring my laptop screen as my homemade SDR radar meteor set up captured some pretty hefty pings. I know interpreting this information is quite difficult, but I presume the duration of a ping is in some way proportional to a meteor's momentum and that if meteors from a shower share a common velocity, then these meteors had a greater mass than many of the others my set up has recorded over the past two days.

    1. orion25


      Great report. I love watching the ISS, too. The Milky Way must be gorgeous from your location. I live in a small city with a Bortle scale of about 5, but sometimes I can get away to the country and take in our galaxy in all its glory. Love the idea of having a meteor radar in the shed!

    2. Hawksmoor


      Thanks for your kind comment. You can't best a shed for versatility! Ours multi-venues as : an artist's studio, a kiln room, a craftroom, a lab and control room for the LVST (The Lowestoft Very Small radio Telescope). All accommodated in a cosy 4 square metres!

      Best regards George

    3. orion25


      That's wonderful, George! I just may follow your lead :hello2:

  25. Last night was beautiful in Lowestoft. Really clear night - all night.  On a plus side I set up to take some lights of M31 wide-style. On a negative side my NEQ6 Pro started to play up and in combination with the guiding software and my laptop turned all my stars into arcs. Got to bed at 5.30 am. pigged off!! ? BUT sitting out under the stars for five hours watching the Summer Constellations set in the west and Orion rising in the South East how can that be bad? M33 was really easy in my big bins and I think I spotted M1 with averted vision. Loads of Ms all round and the Garnet Star was big and red and beautiful. Not many meteors (saw three in five hours) but one was nicely spectacular. Have spent today in the backyard re-fitting my mount on its pillar - reduced the play on the central fixing -I also cleaned all the electrical contacts. Will probably reload PHD2 software before I go 'a guiding' again. When the stars come out tonight I shall realign on Polaris but I will give imaging a miss tonight cos I'm a really tired old man and according to Metcheck its going to rain here in the early hours of tomorrow morning.

    I rarely photograph my 'refractor in action' but I did early this morning and it turns out it was the only image worth a look! ?

    The Jodrell Plank Observatory.png

    1. JimT


      Glad you had a good night except for the photos, went for a stroll along the promenade, looked like rain this end when we started off home but stayed dry.  Up bright an early this morn to find the garden wet but not much rain fell around Kirkley.  Just wondering when I will start the pier up, still a few odd and ends to sort out before then namely PCs which I bought from a certain person whom the police have been interested in, see whats going local and get it all sorted  :)


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